CHAMPAIGN - At times this season the Illinois' offense has appeared set to the motto of "Live by the three, die by the three." While that's not always the case, the offense certainly could be described as perimeter oriented. But before Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson were lighting up the Assembly Hall with their streaky jump shots, the 3-point crown belonged to Cory Bradford.
Between 1999 and 2002, Bradford scored 327 career three pointers - the most ever made by an Illini.
10 years later, and he is still at it.
"I'm playing professional basketball over in Colombia now, and I love it," said Bradford. "Shooting threes is still a big aspect of my game, its been a huge aspect of my whole career, and it is the reason why I am still playing."
Even though Bradford is in Colombia playing for the Caribbean Heat, he still follows the Illini basketball team, and sees constant improvement in every game.
"I'm seeing the light back in the Illinois team. Like any other team, you go through a dry spell when things aren't going well, and the guys are a little tired right now, but this is is definitely a time where you need to be rested," said Bradford." I hope they stay strong, which they will. They will keep giving the fans more things to talk about."
Coach John Groce preaches the term "TNT" to his Illini squad - which stands for toughness and togetherness. However, Bradford says that bull headed factor may be the biggest difference between his era and the 2012 season.
"Coach Groce's style of play is more out of perimeter. Its more spaced out, they obviously shoot a lot of threes. They have a lot of guys that can make great shots," said Bradford. "With my team, it was take what the defense gives you. Whether its outside or inside. We were a rugged team, we were hard-nosed, we always had on our hard hats, and we knew it was going to be a battle every night."
The defense that Bradford's team brought to Assembly Hall is a characteristic that he sees in DJ Richardson. He calls the Illini senior his absolute favorite player.
"He is a great kid, he has a bright future, and I am very proud of him. He is making great plays, but one thing he is not really getting credit for is his defense," Bradford said. "He is playing great defense, making big shots, and he is on a roll right now. He is a big reason they are getting back on pace."
Even though he is enjoying watching Richardson and the Illini, Bradford says he is eager to get back to Colombia and work on his tan.
"I still suck at Spanish. I try to pick it up, but I'm pretty bad," he said.