Illini men’s basketball to hold scrimmage in preparation for season

Game day is near for the Illinois men’s basketball team.

Though it might not be the typical game for fans, the Illini are taking full advantage of Sunday’s Orange and Blue Scrimmage, using it exactly as a regular contest.

“We’re gonna treat it as a game,” junior Tyler Griffey said. “We’re gonna come in the morning, have pregame meal and shoot beforehand. So it’s gonna be a game day, a game-day simulation. It’s gonna be good for us.”

This is the second public showing by Illinois after last week’s “open practice”: at the Assembly Hall prior to the Ohio State football game. Sunday’s scrimmage will require a $10 general admissions ticket, good for a seat anywhere in the arena and a postgame autograph session.

“It’s great for our players to have this opportunity to play, but also for our fans this is a chance for people who don’t always get to sit down low … and also this is the only real opportunity to get autographs,” head coach Bruce Weber said.

The Illini will play four eight-minute periods, with a possible dunking and 3-point contest during halftime, Weber said.

The teams have been mixed up in practice, but Griffey said he knows for sure he won’t be on the same side as center Meyers Leonard on Sunday.

“Man we play so well together, he’s so fun to play with. He can pass the ball so well out of the post,” Griffey said. “We always say coach never puts us on the same team because it’s never fair.”

What fans can expect is to see a lot of new faces on the court, as the Illini have six freshmen and senior transfer Sam Maniscalco.

Maniscalco, who played at Bradley for three seasons, has brought a lot of experience to practice and will most likely helm the team at point guard.

“A lot of this stuff was new to me when I first got to Bradley, and I struggled with it a little bit at first, you know I had older guys and coaches that kind of helped me along,” Maniscalco said. “And that’s what I’m trying to do with them, is share my experience with them and push them through it and they’ve done a really good job.”

As far as on the court, Illinois has been working on a higher-paced offense and a full-court-pressure defense. Griffey said the Illini would also have more set plays Sunday.

The exhibition season begins Nov. 1 for the Illini and the regular season on Nov. 11. So far, Maniscalco said the Illini are in a good place.

“I like where this team’s at right now, I like where we’re going,” Maniscalco said. “Attitude and work ethic is there and right now in the middle of October, that’s what you want: attitude and work ethic.”