Whitman had a plan to include volleyball in the hockey arena that he had planned for downtown Champaign. That project is probably dead, now, so he'll need a plan B for volleyball. The downtown arena would have been a pretty new face but would have had its own problems. Being close to the dorms, Huff draws a lot of students who are just looking for something cheap to do. It would have been an issue attracting those same students downtown. Parking is also an issue downtown.Let's not get too carried away with this walk down memory lane. In Hambly's first three years, with Bartsch and Ward as AA pin hitters, he took second in the B1G all three years. There are people reading this post who could have at least come close to that with his available talent, which he, admittedly as a great recruiter, brought to Illinois. After that:
2012-8th in B1G - no tournament
2013-4th - sweet 16
2014-3d - sweet 16
2015-7th - sweet 16
2016-8th - no tournament
After beating Michigan yesterday the Illini are tied for 7th, with a far easier schedule than the two teams in front of them, PSU and Purdue, who have tougher schedules including one head to head, which one of them has to lose. For fear of creating a jinx, 12-8 in conference is not inconceivable, as well as a tournament bid.
To this point the only year in which Tamas did not make the tournament was the 2020 covid year in which the schedule was unbalanced against the top teams in the league.
I agree Tamas has to improve his recruiting, noting many of his best recruits have either never or barely played because of injuries. Not sure he can do so when he has to show recruits our facilities compared to the other dominant B1G programs.
I also agree SFC is not the answer for volleyball - too big, no atmosphere, too many conflicts with other events. It does not address the issue of practice or locker room facilities. I also agree Huff needs to be replaced.
Until our facilities improve we are a middle of the road B1G team, I'm sorry to say. I doubt there is anyone out there we could hire who could do more than Tamas has done with what he has to work with. Even Iowa and Indiana have built new facilities in the past 2 or 3 years. Volleyball is perhaps the last Illini major sport who has not seen a major facilities improvement in the past 6 or 7 years. I don't count a video board or paint job as a facility improvement. Whitman has been doing an amazing job improving some of the worst facilities in the B1G. I only hope volleyball is next.