Let's talk about Bruce Weber

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#51      
Guenther had an almost Reinsdorfian loyalty to his coaches, usually pulling the trigger three years too late.

Then, when even he knew it was Time, he was in his last year as AD and didn't want to fire and hire when a new AD was coming.

Thomas was worse than Guenther. Thomas made terrible hires, and Guenther didn't want/know when to cut bait.

I think it's obvious that Mike Thomas turned out to be a disaster, but one thing we absolutely owe him (IMHO) is trying to rip us out of the "old days" as far as attitudes went. He did TRY to introduce a culture of "big time" athletics at U of I, emphasizing that we weren't the "University of East Central Illinois," as many of RG's detractors called us. Illinois effectively seemed to view itself as an elite private school that happened to be in Champaign, as far as athletics goes, and too many people were proud of that. That was RG's biggest sin, IMO, as it completely strangled long-term growth OR "keeping up with the Jones'."

We needed more of a Wisconsin or Iowa feel (i.e., being the CLEAR team of choice for any and all Illinoisans, alumni or not, in every corner of the state), and MT did put us on that path. His flaws MORE than outweigh that, of course, but I for one appreciated him trying to get games back at Soldier Field, marketing us as the STATE'S team (not just for Illinois alumni) and things like that.
 
#52      
Shaw was a top 10, 5* star kid as a freshman and sophomore. He ended up #63 overall in the class. You cannot fault Weber for recruiting him.

We lost out on E-Twaun Moore because we had Eric Gordon committed. Any coach would have taken Gordon over Moore.

Come on, Weber deserves plenty of blame but these two examples are crap.

Shaw's ranking dropped because he regressed and yes I will hold him responsible for scouting the player just as I can hold Crandall Head against him for believing he was going to be good at basketball. Alex Legion can be held against him too because guess what? He wasn't good at basketball. The whole "well he was a 4* kid" argument is a pretty silly one you scout the kid yourself.

I gave other examples. How about Rich Semrau. How about Charles Jackson. How about Stan Simpson. How about Bill Cole while telling Robbie Hummel he wasn't a high major player. Pargo/Mcneal/Pullen/Vanvleet etc. etc. etc. There were a lot of guards that were interested in Illinois early we didn't give a glance to while Underwood swung for the fence.

Frank K is another funny one. Howard was supposed to go see him workout and "slept in".
 
#53      
PG play has been consistently bad when we've struggled.

Groce couldn't land a PG to save his life, Weber was killed by Frazier and Abrams.

Underwood has had Ayo, Feliz, and Curbelo.

There is a strong correlation between PG play and wins.
How about Trent?
 
#54      
I was against the hiring of Weber in 2003. But the choices to replace Self was Limited as one of the candidates was Crean at Marquette. Weber was not a good fit and he rarely developed the talent we did have. So many embarrassing loses. I wanted him fired after the loss to Western Kentucky game even though Chet Frazier was out with a broken wrist. We are in such a better place now.
 
#55      
Chevy Chase, Maryland
Weber is a very good basketball coach with an awkward personality which may or may not connect with today's youth. He's much better at coaching the Xs and Os of the game than he is managing the personalities involved. In a world where every coach has the same level of talent and the same personalities to deal with, he's going to be in the top 10%. In a world where he has to account for those other things, he's going to be average at best. I don't think it's any more complicated than that. You'll never convince me Greg Gard is a better coach than Weber. Maybe they're equal. But Gard has been able to manage the sideshow acts better than Bruce and provide a more consistent product. Bruce can coach, but he can't build a culture.
Very astute, IMO. A lot of truth here, and in what others have noted above.

I'll add only that from the outset I was concerned that Weber had never been an HC at any level until his early 40s and had resided in Keady's shadow for such a long time. Even at SIU he didn't seem to have a head coaching presence about him, and I worried that would prevent him form being a strong leader and developing cohesive teams.

I wanted Matta at the time. Wish we would have snagged him. Guenther apparently thought his experience at Xavier was insufficient (or am I not remembering that correctly)?
 
#56      
Hoping we can leverage this year's success (and hopefully a long NCAA tourney run) over the course of the next recruiting year. I recall waiting and waiting in 2005-06 and Weber never could deliver a big class.

As of right now, we're essentially "missing in action" when it comes to the Top 100 for next fall's class (Goode). Will be indeed watching April/May/June closely.

I don't think we quite need 1 big class. But we do need 1 key star level player in each class. Underwood really built this thing up with Ayo/Kofi/Miller&Curbelo. Those are 4 special talents. If we can get just 1 or 2 of those level of guys each year, and fill in the rest, we'll be ok. But that's way easier said than done. Ayo and Kofi are 2 of the greatest players in Illini history. You don't just replace those guys. And its lot harder now than in the past since the state of Illinois doesn't produce the amount of talent like it used too. Underwood will need to coach it up collectively to keep us top 20 level when Ayo/Kofi move on. But I do think this staff does have a good eye for elite talent in that top 40 range that can keep us really good for awhile. Ayo/Kofi/Miller/Curbelo were in our sweet spot recruiting range. Even a guy like Terrence Shannon, who we didn't get, but is an outstanding player in that range, shows that this staff knows who to target.

Curbelo, Hawkins, Miller is a pretty good foundation for the future assuming we get 3 more years out of them. The challenge for Underwood is can he win without having a pro 2 guard that can make all the plays on his own, or a 300 pound 7 footer that nobody else can match up with. Because I'll say with 95% certainly he'll never find another Kofi, and probably 80% likely that Ayo is the best 2 guard he'll ever coach.
 
#57      
I was against the hiring of Weber in 2003. But the choices to replace Self was Limited as one of the candidates was Crean at Marquette. Weber was not a good fit and he rarely developed the talent we did have. So many embarrassing loses. I wanted him fired after the loss to Western Kentucky game even though Chet Frazier was out with a broken wrist. We are in such a better place now.

We could have had Thad Matta but RG insisted we keep whatever assistant stayed on and Thad said no thanks.

I don't think Thad would have necessarily had the same success he had at Ohio St. there due to less re$ource$ at Illinois but who knows.
 
#58      
KState has had far more success since we fired Bruce than we have up until this year. The thing is, what Bruce is doing at KState seems to be about the ceiling for him at a P5 program. He's had some really, really bad team, some pretty good teams, and a bunch of middle of the pack teams, but they're kind of all over the place and are never really great teams (except the year he won a ton, big surprise, with Martin's players).

Underwood's approach seems a lot more sustainable, albeit with a small P5 sample size so far.
This is spot on. And right in line with expectations in Manhattan which is why he hasn't been fired (yet).
 
#59      
We could have had Thad Matta but RG insisted we keep whatever assistant stayed on and Thad said no thanks.

I don't think Thad would have necessarily had the same success he had at Ohio St. there due to less re$ource$ at Illinois but who knows.
The assistant was Wayne McClain
 
#60      
Curbelo, Hawkins, Miller is a pretty good foundation for the future assuming we get 3 more years out of them. The challenge for Underwood is can he win without having a pro 2 guard that can make all the plays on his own, or a 300 pound 7 footer that nobody else can match up with. Because I'll say with 95% certainly he'll never find another Kofi, and probably 80% likely that Ayo is the best 2 guard he'll ever coach.
I would be very surprised if Curbelo is here for three more years. My guess is 60/30/10 for 1/2/3 more years.

I'll also take your 95% on Kofi and raise you to 99%.

Someone, please, please teach Kofi the underhand freethrow method. It would take less than an hour for him to become significantly better than his current 60%. Heck, I went from ~20% straight up (I'm really, really, bad) to ~80% underhand with an hour of experimentation.
 
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