It was hard to find a non-derpy picture of Bruce Weber, and that’s appropriate for the end of his Illinois coaching career.
Weber’s firing was announced at a press conference this morning and the hot talk is about Reggie Theus taking the job, with VCU’s Shaka Smart a fun name to speculate on. New Illini AD Mike Thomas has fired the head football coach, the head women’s hoops coach and now Weber. He finished 210-101 in nine seasons.
Weber’s highlight was the 2004-05 team that started the season 29-0 and placed second in the NCAA tournament after one of the great tourney comebacks and games of all time against Arizona (90-89 win in OT after trailing by 15 with 4 minutes to play). That team featured Deron Williams, Dee Brown and Luther Head, as well as fan favorite James Augustine. It tied the NCAA record for most wins in a season, with 37.
The Illini under Weber have missed the tourney two of the past three years, and he and his team have been basket cases this season. There was crying on a bench while godforsaken Big Ten pincushion Nebraska whomped the Illini, a game after Weber threw his team’s character and skill under a tractor in a postgame whine.
This ouster could have happened at any point in the past month, as the Illini lost nine of their last 10 games, so speculation has been rampant. Smart was an early target for fans, and now with Theus making himself quite visible in Chicago, at a recent high school game of a top recruit, the former UNLV star and Chicago Bull with college coaching experience (Louisville assistant to Pitino, one NCAA tourney appearance in two seasons at New Mexico State) is a sexy pick as well. Theus is no Rick Fox, who’s no Billy Dee Williams, but he’s done some acting, too.
Weber leaves as a decent coach and nice guy with a funny voice. Thomas, who worked with Smart at Akron, hired an up-and-comer for the football program–Tim Beckman from Toledo–so a well-known name is not necessarily next up for the hoops team.
When asked if he thought his team would accept an NIT bid, embattled Illinois coach Bruce Weber responded “I don’t know, I don’t know if we’ll make the NIT to be honest.”
After falling to Iowa in the opening game of the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis, all signs seem to be pointing to Weber’s imminent departure from Champaign and the University of Illinois. In his...
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