Joe Bertrand makes them laugh off the court but wants to be taken seriously on it.
The latest installment of the Joe Tales hit Twitter on Friday, courtesy of Illinois guard Brandon Paul. The lead character is Joe Bertrand, the redshirt sophomore guard who is, apparently, a funny man. On the day of this chapter, Paul chronicled how Bertrand loaded the parking meter with coins, only to learn class was dismissed early. Instead of hot-footing it out of there, Bertrand took a seat on the hood. "He was sitting on top of his car waiting for the meter to run out,'' said roommate D.J. Richardson. "That's the type of thing that Joe does.'' But seriously folks. . . When Illinois hosts Division II Quincy in the Illini's final exhibition game Monday, Bertrand wants to show his improvement after a hip pointer slowed him during the 79 -51 exhibition win over Division II Wayne State (Neb.) Monday. In his third year in the program, Bertrand appears worth following on the court as much as on Twitter. He was a surprise during the Italian exhibition tour, shooting 61 percent from the field and hitting 3 of 4 from the 3-point line. In the Orange and Blue scrimmage, the athletic 6-foot-5 leaper from Sterling led the day with nine rebounds. With Illinois determined to pick up the intensity defensively, Bertand's mobility and wiry frame could make him an asset in the open floor. As his skills improve, Bertrand would also find a niche in the half court. He had two points and four rebounds in 27 minutes against Wayne State despite the hip pain. "He's quietly doing some nice things,'' coach Bruce Weber said. It's been a slow start to Bertrand's career. He missed his first year when he could never recover from an early knee injury, leading to a redshirt. Last season, he had trouble finding a role in the lineup. With four senior starters and Jereme Richmond gone from last season, this year appeared to be Bertrrand's chance to get into the mix, but he also had to battle seven newcomers for playing time. "Coach told me I've been doing good at rebounding, attacking the lane and with pull up jumpers,'' Bertrand said. "Everybody's been telling me I've been improving everyday. I just try to keep that up.'' Bertrand hasn't been afraid to stick his nose in there. He took an elbow against Wayne State that required stitches to close a cut above his right eye. "I knew my time would come sometime,'' Bertrand said. "I want to take advantage of it, get in the game and play well.'' He might have had more confidence than the folks outside the locker room. When Weber went down the list on media day, he spoke about everyone but one player. "God, no one said anything about Joe,'' Weber said. "I told him that. Use that as a motivator. We're really pushed him. He got hurt, then he got kind of lost. We said, 'Instead of feeling sorry for yourself, get in the gym and do something about it.' This is his opportunity to prove himself.'' NOTES: The Illinois-Michigan football game at Memorial Stadium Saturday was set for a 2:30 p.m. game with broadcast on ABC. John Supinie can be reached at Johnsupinie@aol.com. Follow him on Twitter @JohnSupinie. Illinois vs. Quincy What: Second of two exhibition basketball games Where: Assembly Hall When: 7:30 p.m. Monday TV: None Notes: The Illini hope to play point guard Sam Maniscalco 12 to 18 minutes after he missed the first exhibition while resting a painful left ankle. Freshman Myke Henry is also expected to play after missing the first exhibition with a strained quad. . . A probable starting lineup is comprised of guard Tracy Abrams, Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson with center Meyers Leonard and forward Tyler Griffey. . . Quincy's roster includes redshirt freshman forward Austin Weber, Bruce Weber's nephew, and 6-10 freshman center Drake Vermillion, a Beardstown graduate. . . Quincy defeated Drake 84-74 Saturday before losing 102-63 at Illinois State Sunday. . . The game is shown live on BTN.com. It will be tape delayed on BTN . . .