Klee: Embattled Weber takes blame

Klee: Embattled Weber takes blame

CHAMPAIGN — In tracing through the errors that ultimately will lead to the end of the Bruce Weber era at Illinois, the most important one is the most unfortunate.

He tried to be something other than himself.

Whether it was helping Purdue to six Big Ten titles or SIU to the Sweet 16, Weber had a tried-and-true formula for success. Work harder than the competition. Recruit blue-collar kids that do the same and believe in the system. Win games.

Simple, right?

On Wednesday at the Assembly Hall, the kind of players he used to recruit beat the kinds of players he's had so much trouble getting through to.

Robbie Hummel and Lewis Jackson willed Purdue to a 67-62 win that could be the dagger in the Illini's season. Illinois has lost seven of eight and is on pace to miss the NCAA tournament for the third time in five years.

Weber summed it up — not just Wednesday night's defeat, but the majority of the six seasons A.D. (After Dee) — with this: "You're trying to please everyone instead of pleasing yourself. That's my fault in hindsight."

Along the way at Illinois (16-10, 5-8 Big Ten), he strayed from his proven recipe. He tried to recruit the blue-chips instead of the blue-collars. He didn't win at SIU with EJ Gordon and Derrick Rose, two of the future NBA guards he pursued. He won with Darren Brooks and Kent Williams, Big Ten-caliber studs who hated losing more than they loved winning.

The frustrations came boiling over in Wednesday's postgame news conference after his former program beat his current program for the seventh straight time. Weber said he erred by not benching Meyers Leonard earlier this season when the sophomore showed poor "body language" on the court. He said the staff didn't challenge Brandon Paul enough, either.

"We're not doing him justice if we don't make him change," Weber said of Leonard, who had nine points and 12 rebounds. "The sad thing about the whole thing — and I guess it's my fault — instead of creating toughness and developing a team, I coached not to lose all year. And that's really sad, to be honest."

All of what he vented was what he's believed for several years but was hesitant to say publicly. And the honesty flowed in a self-critiquing tell-all that will be lambasted on airwaves today. Many of the players he's recruited to Illinois haven't fit the profile of the players he succeeded with. The same discipline that worked for decades isn't accepted anymore. And he went right along with it, instead of sticking by his own rules.

"It comes down to myself and the staff. If they're not doing it, I guess they're not instructing them well enough," he said. "It's all just little things."

Weber wore the orange blazer he sported at the highest point in his career — the NCAA championship game in 2005. Wednesday's affair felt like the lowest point — a loss to his former team, on the UI's homecourt, that could shove the Illini off the NCAA tournament bubble.

"A road win at Ohio State or Wisconsin is practically a necessity (for an at-large berth)," Yahoo! Sports bracketologist Brad Evans said after the game. "And that's assuming the Illini can defeat Nebraska in Lincoln and win their (two) home games."

Fittingly, the type of player that shares the attributes of Weber's better players almost saved the day. Hard-nosed Tracy Abrams scored a career-high 22 points in a show of great will; not simply for a freshman but for anyone.

"It's a constant fight: Who's stronger, who's tougher?" Abrams said.

"The problem is he's our leader (as a freshman). That's the problem," Weber said. "He's the one talking after the game in the locker room."

These bright lights seemed to change Weber, too. One of the funniest men you'll meet is afraid to crack a joke at speaking functions anymore, or drink a Miller Light in public, for fear of a cell-phone camera taking it to the Internet. Most of all, however, he seemed to bend for others, when his way worked in the past.

"That's my fault (for using less discipline). You've got to develop a culture," Weber said. "I think the last three years all I worried about was winning instead of developing a culture and a toughness. And that's my fault. And it's sometimes the kids. We're always kind of mollycoddling them. Sooner or later if you're a player, you're a player.

"Robbie Hummel's a player. (D.J.) Byrd's a player. They go make plays. Lewis Jackson makes plays."

In a twist of irony, two tough guys that wanted to attend Illinois — but didn't receive sincere scholarship offers — did in the Illini on Wednesday. Hummel and Jackson combined for 31 points for Purdue (17-9, 7-6) and pumped their fists as they walked down the tunnel.

"It's special," Jackson said. "I got bragging rights in my career. I'm (3 for 4) here, 7-2 (overall) so it's great to have bragging rights."


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jgrout wrote on February 15, 2012 at 11:02 pm

For the first time, that sounds like a coach who knows his time is up.

I think he'll land on his feet.  The haters who helped bring him down, not so much.



peterborich wrote on February 16, 2012 at 12:02 am

Coach Weber admits he failed himself, yet It is the haters who brought him down?  What?  Coach Weber throws his kids he recruited under the bus after the game, yet it is the haters who brought him down?  What?   




PeterE wrote on February 16, 2012 at 1:02 am

In my view the Weber coaching era ended tonight. He admitted 3 years of failed strategy and that can't be undone.

Sources tell me key boosters made it clear Weber's $3.9 million buyout should not stand in way of making a change.


optimator wrote on February 16, 2012 at 10:02 am

the haters?  really?  they are the ones not getting it done on the court? or in practice?  the haters?  um, ok


right up until he pulled a Roy Williams and started throwing his players under the bus, I took Weber to be an honorable man.  There was little honor in much of what he said last night.

DaisyJ wrote on February 16, 2012 at 4:02 pm

CeramicGROUT...these haters your speak of,,,are you talking about people that pay money to see Illinois play hard, lose more than win...these people that pay the grant in aid so these kids can get free rides and the perks of D1 ball, these haters, are they the ones that were cheering when we beat the top ten teams we did.  You know, if you accept the fans when they cheer and brag you up, then you really have to accept the booing and the complaining. You  have to accept that  same fans hate to lose and get a little hateful when they do lose, cause geeze, $10,000 grant in aid can do a lot for the community instead of paying a guy like BP, or Leonard to come here, get a few tatoo's,  goof it up on the floor, not hustle or listen to the coach (per Weborns statements) or even how about those TCU drug guys we learn about today. How about that,, those people just might hate that the kids do not respect the coach or fans enough to act real proper like, let alone break the law. People like you GROuCHYGROUT...YOU  like to call people that are fed up haters, and I think that is pretty funny. Most times, folks of your like call others hater and really have never had any ideas themselves as to what they would try....other than trying to call us haters.

mbillini1 wrote on February 16, 2012 at 10:02 pm

i dont hate the guy but he didnt get the job done

aaeismacgychel wrote on February 16, 2012 at 12:02 am

Really sad to see.  I'm sure many will celebrate or mock him, but this is what a frustrated and defeated coach sounds like.  This is what a coach who wants to win and hurts with every loss sounds like, and it's a shame.  He honestly did try and he does care and I'm sorry he didn't have a graceful exit and instead had to deal with a fanbase that turned on him.  I wish him the best of luck wherever he goes, but I honestly think he's done coaching for a while.  He sounds like a coach who needs a break from it.  And I do hope in a few years when he gets the itch again, he takes some midmajor team on a cinderella run in the touney.  Best of luck coach to you and you your family.  You're a good man, and you deserved better than what these last few years brought you. 

jgrout wrote on February 16, 2012 at 12:02 am

Former Atlanta Falcons coach Jerry Glanville's quip... that NFL was short for "not for long"... is the best I can think of that expresses just how fragile the fishbowl world of head coaching can be.  At least we know that Coach Weber's peers like Tom Izzo and Matt Painter and others will be there for him, and beside him, behind the scenes if he is let go.

dotcomthis wrote on February 16, 2012 at 2:02 am
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"You're a good man, and you deserved better than what these last few years brought you."     

Give me a break.  Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think "these last few years" brought Bruce Weber millions of dollars.  There are thousands of people in this world to feel sorry for.  Bruce Weber isn't one of them.

Dan Bloeme wrote on February 16, 2012 at 2:02 am

No kidding! Let's see, Bruce Weber has been here for 9 years making $1.5 Million per year (9 x $1.5M = $13.5 Million) and will still get a buyout of $3.9 Million on top of that when he is fired. That's $17.4 Million for poor Bruce Weber. Nah, he made out just great looks like. Can't say I feel sorry for him in any way. There are others far worse off, much more deserving of our sympathy and others of our adoration.

aaeismacgychel wrote on February 16, 2012 at 9:02 am

I'm sure that's what he was thinking about in the press conference. *sarcasm*  Having met him and his family and tutoring his daughter in chemistry, I can assure you that money was the last thing he was thinking about at the press conference.  We like putting things in tidy little boxes to make sense of things and when things don't go as planned, we seek a scapegoat.  That is human nature.  Nobody deserves to be in the toxic situation he was in.  I'm sorry.  To be pointedly honest, I'm not sure why any recruit or big name coach would want to come here, not with the current fanbase.  Any fanbase who boos their own players doesn't deserve success.  You might think so, as may the ones doing it, but what college kid needs that?  I expect the Illini to follow a similar path as the Chicago Cubs when the fanbase changed from the friendly care-free one to the far more venemous post-2003 one.  Some limited success the next couple years followed by us competing to get out of the basement of the B10 with no realistic hope in sight.  Coaches like Dusty Baker or Bruce Weber need to go, but for the fanbase to take pleasure in it and blame all the ills of society on them?  Nobody needs that or deserves that.

I still cannot believe this fanbase heckles Sam Maniscalco and booed him when he first entered the game.  There's a kid whose dream it was to play for Illinois and he never lacked effort.  Sure his performance massively fell off, but that alone makes him deserving of boos?  Sigh... Eh, it doesn't even matter.  We think we've fallen on hard times with Illinois, but the truth is, most probably can't recall what hard times actually looked like (post Deon), but I have a good feeling we'll know soon enough what the fate that befell Iowa feels like.  And the truth is, unlike the Iowa fanbase which has always been an exceptional one, our fanbase will deserve it.  And that is something I never thought I'd say of our fanbase.

DaisyJ wrote on February 16, 2012 at 4:02 pm

I would not boo Sam,,but I would Boo Weborn,,,you can do that when people get the money he does. Make sure you understand the purpose of the boo,,it is the opposite of the cheer and it is a part of life...sometimes even gets the attention of those that hear it.

Chief4Evr wrote on February 16, 2012 at 11:02 am

Agree with you. I think Bruce Weber is a good man and ran a clean program and deserved better. I have said all year the team lacked a leader and lacked toughness and tenacity. Certainly part of that is coaching but the other part is that the players have to buy in and react when they watch film of how they play and realize what is necessary to win in the Big Ten (not shooting 3 point shots when the notion strikes-last night 14%) For the most part many seem to lack Basketball IQ. I know the fan base is frustrated but to blame it all on the coach is ridiculous. You know what they say, "A coach gets too much blame when teams lose and too much credit when they win".

illiniphil85 wrote on February 17, 2012 at 9:02 am

He has no one but himself to blame. I didn't tell him not to recruit PGs, I didn't tell him to recruit players that don't fit his system. He could have offered Hummel, he didn't bother. It's been one gaff after another since hes been on the job. Yes, call me a hater. I hate we hired a coach that had absolutely no clue on how to put a roster together.

Damn entitled fans, damn lazy players, damn Eric Gordon, damn refs, excuse after excuse has been used and reused for the last six years. Sorry, it's all on Bruce Weber.

PeterE wrote on February 16, 2012 at 12:02 am

Weber: "If they're not doing it, I guess we're not instructing them well enough."

Weber completes press conference that included a ton of reflection on errors he said he has made in recent years.

Weber's comments sounded like the losing side on election night. Sounded defeated and listed many regrets.

Weber just made what sounded like concession speech, regretting not sitting players to develop culture of toughness.

In past, crowd booed when it became disgruntled. Tonight fans seemed more detached, maybe resigned to team's fate?

Weber says he played not to lose all year instead of developing toughness and bench.

Weber: "Instead of creating toughness and developing a team, I coached not to lose this year. that’s really sad"

BW says he should have developed people more, that's what he means when he said he coaches not to lose. "That's my fault."

Bruce Weber: The sad thing about this is that instead of developing a team, I coach not to lose -

illini82 wrote on February 16, 2012 at 12:02 am

Weber HAD a chance to get LewJack. He wanted to come here.  But we were very late in getting an offer to him and we just stuck it out there like an afterthought. Like..."here it is...take it or leave it".

Hummel wasn't pursued by BAM.  Would have been hard to get him away from PU but, who knows.

We also passed on Patrick Beverly. LewJack is one that really hurt as we needed another PG the last few years to spell Dmac and to have on the roster this year or at least the experience. Tonight's game was LewJack's way of saying..."who's sorry now?"

But he's right. What I see on the court are athletes but we are getting beat by teams with BASKETBALL PLAYERS!!!  There is a difference. Look at tonight's game. We won the highlight real with some great plays, dunks, etc. But Purdue won with smarts, patience, tenacity. 

We have  a very low basetball IQ and BP may have the worst as far as errors go. he can't help himself. he averages 4-5 turnovers per game?  he gives you offense but negates with mental mistakes. Henry is the next worst but he is a frosh.

BAM knows it's over. Very sad but looking forward to a new beginning next year.


DaisyJ wrote on February 16, 2012 at 4:02 pm

I sitll would not take LJ...Abrams is hands down better,,,LJ gets by with what he does because not one cares what he does

dotcomthis wrote on February 16, 2012 at 12:02 am
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This whole article reaffirms that Bruce Weber was a poor fit at Illinois from the start.  Weber was tailor made to coach at the mid-major level.  He is a "system coach" in every sense.  The most unfortunate thing about the whole situation was that it took 9 years for it to become apparent to everyone.

Salt Life wrote on February 16, 2012 at 1:02 am
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Well said dotcomthis.  Very good and accurate synopsis. Weber was indeed an ill fit at Illinois. Truly a shame fans had to endure those very frustrating and aggravating past 6 years. Now there is hope again as Thomas will get a better suited coach for Illnois-Chicago's top talent.

bluehavana wrote on February 16, 2012 at 12:02 am

The makeup of Coach Weber's comments after the game summarize many gripes fans have had for a few seasons now.  I am sad to see Bruce Weber need to express statements he made after the game.  Admitting he should have developed a better culture of toughness.  Saying he developed toughness at SIU, but at Illinois just tried to please too many others instead of himself.  The haters won't help bring him down, it is the shortcomings he admitted in that post Purdue press conference that will.

I haven't been Coach Weber's biggest detractor, but didn't like many of his early recruiting classes.  I have not liked the emphasis on 3 point shooting.  But this is also true:  I would love to see this same group go on a crazy run, right now, and make the NCAA tourney.

Pretending there is no 3 point line may be a great focus the rest of the way.  Our best stretches against Purdue showed this.  Good luck men, and finish strong Coach Weber.


Illinigrad wrote on February 16, 2012 at 12:02 am

It is NOT the haters that did in Weber (assuming things do not improve) but the fact that he and his staff did not win enough games. Plain and simple.

billdave wrote on February 16, 2012 at 1:02 am

  It isnt like he has not had time to rectify what he needed to do.  This is a culmination of what has been brewing the last few years.  He has basically lost any confidence with fans, players, and media.  This program now will probably have a major setback for some years.  The way he talked in the press conf. sounds like he knows its end of  the road.  With the money hes made he will be laughing all the way out the door.  This isnt the only coaching job. 

floridaturbo wrote on February 16, 2012 at 6:02 am

I don't think you can build a successful and exciting college team around a lumberling seven footer.  The last several years at Illinois show that.  With a new coach and Leonard leaving for the NBA, we'll have a shot at a team reminiscent of the Flying Illini or the final trwo team.  Win or lose, those were exciting teams and great fun to watch.  Coincidently, they won most of the time.  We have players in place now to duplicate that next year if we can get a coach who will utilize their talents.  

tntsher wrote on February 16, 2012 at 9:02 am

Are you kidding me with " cant build a program around a "lumberling"?? seven footer" ? EVERY GREAT program has a solid big man. Who has OSU been built around for the Matta era? Who was the thorn in our side in '05 vs NC? Sean May!! And we have one of the best (most athletic & promising) bigs in the last several years, IN THE NATION!! But by Webers own admission, wasnt being developed fully. I agree that every time he let his body language show frustration, Bruce should have sat him. You mention the '05 team that was fun to watch, well you still had Augustine, an athletic 6'11" player and Roger Powell inside doing the dirty work. I think everyone who has seen the talents of Leonard would agree that he is even more althletic and promising than either, and I LOVED that team and those guys! The '89 team also had athletic bigs too and again Leonard is their match. The problem was developing his moves, his strength, AND HIS EMOTIONS!! There is not a coach in the nation that would not want to build a program around Meyers. I hope he stays, the same as Tyler Hansburough did at NC. I also hope we get a coach and staff that can develop the skills and toughness that not only he needs, but so do BP, DJ, JB and the rest. We do have several players on this team that will play at the next level, even if it is European leagues, and the right staff could take these players deep in the NCAA tournament in the next few years.

I think Bruce Weber is a fine man, and I hope he will succeed again somewhere, and I believe he will. But, the lessons he has learned from these last several seasons should stick with him. YES! He DOES need to recruit and develop a mentality of toughness and discipline. That has sorely been missing in this program since the '06 season. I blame his staff as much as him, but he is the one that put that staff together. He is accountable for setting the tone. Tom Crean has turned IU around much faster than anyone thought possible, and he did it by instilling discipline and toughness. 

Illinois88 wrote on February 16, 2012 at 6:02 am

After watching Bruce Weber's press conference, it is clear that the Captain has just abandoned this sinking ship leaving his players and the Illini fans on board. Captain Weber threw in a few parting shots at his players as he left the ship as well. The time is now for Mike Thomas to salvage the situation and officially relieve Captain Weber of his duties. Do not wait any longer to do what needs to be done. Captain Weber's treatment of his players with his comments to the media about them has reached a new low and is not acceptable.

tonyjb37 wrote on February 16, 2012 at 6:02 am
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Bye,Bye, Bruce and good riddens! Take all these sissy players you brought in to help you wreck our program with you!

geriatricillini wrote on February 16, 2012 at 7:02 am

I couldn't agree more...if I was a freshman, sophomore or a recruit I would bail out of this toxic environment at the end of the season or NOW. When the new fish comes here to coach bball, he will look at each of them as one of "Weber's Boys". The fans will always look at each of them as one of "Weber's Boys"..they can't win no matter what. Be just like Jay Prosch going to Auburn in football where it matters (I know his mom's illness had something to do with that, but it ain't the only damn reason)...go to a place where bball matters more than it does here. There are several places to go for that...look around. Good luck Meyers Leonard...you will need it in the big time. If I were you I would start showing what you can or should do...there are draft $$$ on the line for your future....get with it kid . Some folks are already ticked off with Thomas for hiring Beckman....and Beckman hasn't even coached one game yet!! Do you think it will be any different when he hires the new sacrificial lamb in bball? Will it be another MAC coach?  It might be worse. It will take years..if ever.. to move up the conference ladder. As for Weber...he's got plenty of $$$, he can get another job and he'll get over this episode...I have no desire to see him fail like did here again, but he needs to start over somewhwere else...the bridges have been burned now. People have every right to be disappointed about the program, but let's hope that they remember when you make a major coaching change in the revenue sports...and we will have changes in BOTH of them...it sometimes takes several years to regroup and start winning again...sometimes it NEVER happens. I wonder how long folks will deal with that or the wait. Something tells me that it won't be very long before we see this kind of thing again in the papers. And at my age, bleeding orange and blue, I wonder if I will ever see consistent winning football and baskeball again here....at 62, my time is measured now...we used to be a factor in both sports...now we are second division fodder...and that hurts...ALOT!!!!

butkus50 wrote on February 16, 2012 at 7:02 am

Bruce Weber is a hired gun and as such deserves whatever civil criticism comes his way. The players are young men, student athletes enrolled at Illinois and do not deserve the comments Bruce Weber made to the press and this is not the first time he has called players out. I urge the fans to support and encourage the players.

uswtmb47 wrote on February 16, 2012 at 8:02 am

To say that he coached not to lose is the worst thing to say if he expects to be here next year.  This is a man who knows his time is up, hopefully the next coach will learn from his mistakes.

On a positive note:  With a new coach next year, and If Loenard stays, we should be a top 25 team.

read the DI wrote on February 16, 2012 at 8:02 am

We "haters" didn't lose those games. We called it like we saw it.

Moonpie wrote on February 16, 2012 at 1:02 pm

Well-said, read the DI. The folks who call others here "haters" are themselves haters -- haters of anyone who disagrees with them. Lockstep fanatics who ought to read past the Sleepy Gazoo and see what real papers say.

SEMOIllini wrote on February 16, 2012 at 8:02 am

Classic Weber---It's someone else's fault!!!  "You're trying to please everyone instead of pleasing yourself."  (I listened to others instead of myself!!)  I tried to please others (fans) by recruiting blue-chip players instead of blue-collar ones.  He's had blue-collar workers after Bill Self's players and couldn't win with them--weren't they good enough either, or maybe Weber just needed to look in the mirror for the reason his teams lost--instead of throwing them and everybody else under the bus.  He was with Gene Keady at Purdue for 16 years and had mediocre talent with limited success, but never anything special.  Weber became a mid-major coach who took mediocre talent and had some success at SIU.  Now, he admits he can not coach blue-chippers and although he recruited them and coached them and is now blaming others for making him recruit them--unbelievable.  Sadly, winning is what pleases everyone--and Weber tried to do that with blue-collar as well as blue-chip players, but just couldn't do it--for whatever reason.  Coach Weber deserves to have success at a mid-major program--but he defrauded Illinois fans by accepting a job that he knew he was not capable of doing.  He is the classic example of someone who, according to the book 'The Peter Principle', has risen to his level of incompetence.    

OKOMIS wrote on February 16, 2012 at 9:02 am

From day one, it’s been a case of a square peg in a round hole. And that’s not to say one’s good and one’s bad.. they just don’t work well together… he’s not Bill Self..he never got comfortable doing what he knows how to do best..which isn’t relating well with athletically gifted, temperamental players.. Randall, McCamey, Leonard.. on and on. Why our old AD didn’t have a sit down before extending his contract and suggest either changing his coaching style to fit the kids recruited or recruit kids suited to his style is beyond me. they have looked so uncomfortable and awkward as a team for so long.. I think the talent is there for the next coach to hit the floor running.. he’ll certainly inherit a better situation the Beckman..

illinifaningeorgia wrote on February 16, 2012 at 9:02 am

Weber summed it up — not just Wednesday night's defeat, but the majority of the six seasons A.D. — with this: "You're trying to please everyone instead of pleasing yourself.

Apparently Bruce wasn't familiar with the Rick Nelson song "Garden Party"

After those post-game comments, there is no turning back---he should be removed immediately, not at the end of the season.  Let one of the assistants run the team for the rest of the year and maybe we can still salvage a Big Dance berth.


illinifan20 wrote on February 16, 2012 at 10:02 am

Well, the Purdue game last nite was a sad ending.  We had the game, but lacked the intensity.  Coach Weber last year stated the same thing that he needs to instill discipline and toughness on the team and still has not done it apparently.  His assistants dont do it, so maybe it is time for Coach Weber if he is kept to let all his assistants go and start fresh with new ideas and start the new college season with an emphasis on discipline and toughness from the get go and do not let up.  Lets go after basketball talent, good talent, and lets focus on many areas of Illinois to find those super players and not just Chicago Public Schools and their coaches.  The players the Illini have are good players but lack discipline and toughness.   Instead of coddling them and patting them on the back, how about a good kick to the butt, for a wake up call.   We need a Bobby Knight type coach for these players who demands discipline and toughness.

dkgoldacker wrote on February 16, 2012 at 10:02 am

Year over year, Illinois will NOT have a Big Ten Conference winning team in either basketball OR football. If we're fortunate enough to have a really good coach they will be wooed to a better, "richer" university after a few years. There's too much big money in college sports today and that's just the way it is. Illinois will still go to the Rose Bowl every 20 years or so, and hope to go to ANY bowl the rest of the time. As for the "Big Dance", we should at least be able to attend the dance, but generally won't make it past the first weekend.

Dogma3 wrote on February 16, 2012 at 11:02 am

If I was an Illinois player, there is no way I could play decent, effective basketball with a coach who constantly runs the sidelines, flailing his arms and screaming at me while I'm trying to play the game.  How can any player watch the coach (be distracted by the coach) and play his game well?  To me, coaching is what is done between games and during timeouts and by adjustments made at half-time, then the players should be prepared to play during the game without having to constantly keep one eye on the coach and one eye on the court.  This has bothered me watching the games all these years.....and this is just from the sidelines as a spectator!

Tattler1 wrote on February 16, 2012 at 11:02 am

Weber is gone because of many reasons but the foremost is he is not a good leader. Did you see the pre-game speech on BTN? He couldn't talk and it was a joke. He is in over his head and time has proven this. He has not recruited one current NBA player. Leonard is miserable at Illinois, and he has ruined the freshman years of everyone but Abrams. Richardson & Paul are no better than when were they freshman. His refusal to play a zone is stubborn to a fault. The offense is slow and methodical and then they have to launch 3's. Maniscalco was and is a bad idea. He let Head walk - what does thay say to the Chicago area recruits. His assistants are the same - which is never a good sign for a program. He throws kids under the bus, even kids who are long gone. Attendance is down. Apathy has set in. He may be the greatest guy on the planet, but he is not a major college coach and Illini fans are tired of the losing. Move on, fire him now and let's work towards the future. If Weber wasn't so proud, he would resign.

dapoohbear247 wrote on February 16, 2012 at 12:02 pm



Sorry, not in college basketball.  Coaches deserve the credit and blame more than any other sport.  In the pros, GMs sign players and draft.  A manager has no control over who he can put on the floor. 


In football, there are many more moving pieces.


In college basketball, you shop for the groceries and cook yourself.  With only 2-3 studs and a few role players needed in today's game for a run, the coach gets the credit and blame.


In this case, Weber bought some decent groceries lately but microwaved his meal.


He deserves ALL OF THE BLAME over the long-term.



Moonpie wrote on February 16, 2012 at 1:02 pm

I like Weber, especially his honesty, but now I think he's gone. And the players let him down. He played a role, to be sure, and has admitted it--good for him. Not much honesty left in sports. But these are weak between the ears and in the heart players. The Moses Tate toss the coach under the bus column must be brewing.

And Foul Machine Myers Leonard is whiny and overhyped thanks to the Sleepy Gazoo.

Rosenbloom at the Trib captures it well:

"I’ve heard it said that Illinois is a basketball school. Actually, it’s a bad-pig-farm-smell school, but as far as sports go, it’s a basketball school by default, which doesn’t mean it’s a prime job."


dapoohbear247 wrote on February 16, 2012 at 1:02 pm

The players let him down?????




He let the players down and he admitted it.  The way he handled them is not good or fair to them or the team.  Even if he didn't admit it, it's obvious.


Let's be clear, the players did not let him down!

Moonpie wrote on February 16, 2012 at 3:02 pm

dapoohbear247--sorry, but many of these players lack heart and toughness and so they do let down the team. I know you want it all to be Weber's fault, but it's both.

peterborich wrote on February 16, 2012 at 2:02 pm


You have lost all credibility quoting Steve Rosenbloom . .all credibility. . .

Rosenbloom trashes everyone and everything . . .he even trashed the Theo Epstein hiring by the Cubs. 

If Rosenbloom can't insult someone or something, it's not worth his time.  . .



Moonpie wrote on February 16, 2012 at 3:02 pm

Hi, peterborich. And thanks, by the way, for countering me at least in a civil manner. Unlike the foklks who shout, "Traitor!"

Consider what I used Rosenbloom for: to demonstrate that even he can see that Illinois is a stepping stone, and even in hoops, and something some folks here and at the Sleepy Gazoo want to deny. Certainly Rosenbloom makes his bones by making fun of people and issues. No attempt by me to disguise that. And his remark about the pig smell is offensive and unacceptable as a means for defining the university.

Keep at it, my friend.

goat_theory wrote on February 16, 2012 at 1:02 pm

First of all, Mr. Klee:  "...Weber takes blame"?  I can only imagine that you were under the bus trying to take interviews with the players, and didn't really get the chance to listen to the same post-game the rest of us heard.

I can point to a vast number of college teams in recent years, full of "blue-chip" players who take instruction, play team-oriented ball and exhibit consistent toughness with a desire to win and a hatred of losing.

To suggest it is some sort of either/or proposition (tough vs. talented) may be one of the most ridiculous assertions I've ever heard.  Either by a coach, or a sportswriter.

WyomingIllini wrote on February 16, 2012 at 2:02 pm


An open letter to Bruce Weber and the Team,

This article is BS. But I don’t expect you and this team to smother yourselves in self-pity. The past is the past.

Bruce do you remember your first year at the University of Illinois and how you had to get the team to buy into your philosophy and forget about Bill Self. Well now is time to stand up again. Coach the way you want to coach and do it not for the fans or the school, do it for yourself and the players. And the team you need to realize this will not be the first time that bad things are going to happen to you. Forget the past play for yourself, your coaches and teammates. Don’t listen to the fans or your so-called friends. Stop worrying about things that are out of your control and start taking your anger out on the opposition. Believe. No one talks about that anymore. But if you all believe in each other just maybe you can do something that is very special.

There are still five games left in the season and a Big Ten Tournament. You guys still control your own destiny.

This weekend my wife and I are traveling 442 miles to see you play a basketball game. We are traveling that distanced because when we show up we expect the coaches and players to give every ounce of effort and beyond to win the game. We don’t expect you to go down fighting we expect you to give everything of yourself to win. We expect you to play as a team and not worry about obnoxious fans and lack of administrative leadership. You are a team. Do it for each other.

Regardless of what other people say you can still make this season special. Come Saturday we will be in Lincoln Nebraska supporting you all the way. – Craig Getchius

ekane555 wrote on February 16, 2012 at 2:02 pm

Moonpie - Are you Serious? You actually quoted Rosenbloom? He's a Chicago Jag that knows nothing about Illinois athletics. I feel dumber having read your post. Please go support another program like DePaul or Loyola. Give Me a Break.

Moonpie wrote on February 16, 2012 at 3:02 pm

Hi, ekane555--as expected, predictably, instead of trying to intelligently counter my view, you insist I am disloyal and must switch to another school. So funny! Move to Cuba! You traitor! The good old lockstep conservative shout the loudest approach.And so third-grade. As an Illinois grad who has watched Illinois sports since the 60s, I seriously doubt anyone here can suggest I must switch schools.I guess that, like Moses Tate, you believe that anyone who disagrees with you can't be a fan.

As for Rosenbloom, it doesn't matter what he may know day in or out about Illinois: he is correct that Illinois is a stepping stone, even in hoops. Like all conservatives you want reality to conform to your ideology.

Why don't YOU switch schools? That request by me makes just as much sense as your demand I switch schools -- none.

Were you there the day I watched Butkus play in person? Or Downey at Huff Gym?

Neofans--how funny!

OKOMIS wrote on February 16, 2012 at 3:02 pm

 Since my time as a student, we lost a coach as John Wooden’s replacement at UCLA, the NBA, after we stole him from Florida which won 2 national championships last decade and whose made 15 moves since, and Kansas… this nonsense we’re some sort of MAC stepping stone is stupid… I don’t think it would happen, but the fact national media sources are even mentioning Billy Donovan as a possibility shows we are considered an above average program.. I doubt we’d ever have a chance at a non-fired Gator head football coach. Are we Kansas, Duke or North Carolina, no… but we are certainly a top 16 program. In 35 years losing a coach to replace John Wooden and one to replace Roy Williams at Kansas hardy makes us a stepping stone.. Lon Kruger has had 5 jobs since 2000, so him moving is hardly exclusive to Illinois.


of course in all fainess, the fact Henson was there 100 years helps our averaage.

crackerman wrote on February 16, 2012 at 2:02 pm

This is the business we've chosen! Hyman Roth.

mahillinois wrote on February 16, 2012 at 3:02 pm

Paul- I've heard Weber's post-game talk on the radio but you wrote a great article that fills in a lot of the gaps and puts perspective around everything that he said. People nationally (and locally) are going to bury him for last night but it really is about the last 3-5 years that bubbled up. Weber is a good coach but I think he is ready for a fresh start where he is able to get back to his core basic principles and the fan base is ready for a fresh start themselves. I don't think people realize how good of a coach he is with the right players (who will listen) in the right system but his biggest flaw may be that he sticks to his system (man to man D-motion offense- 20 three point shots a game) when he knows the players aren't listening to what he is telling them.

They need to finish 8-10 in the league and make the Big 10 tourney final now but that is a long shot. I don't think anyone thought in September/October that Mike Thomas would be replacing this many coaches this year!

allillini wrote on February 16, 2012 at 3:02 pm

   I realize it is probably not possible now, but I really think Weber should be allowed to stay until his contract is up, and if he is sincere about what he said, then he could go back to what always worked for him, and recruit the kind of blue collar players that he should have been going after all along. I recall loud and clear when all the naysayers were saying we had to get the top recruits or we would never be any good, and try we did. We now have some Mr. Illinois players, some high ranked guards, and a team full of players with no toughness, no ball handlers no good penetraters or passers, and only a few capable of playing defense or drawing fouls. It is true that he should have stuck with what had always worked for him, but maybe he has learned that late is better than never? I have never understood why we kept getting guard after guard that could not dribble or pass, and I know you can't win without them consistently. Doesn't any of the recruiters or the coach check any of these traits out before offering a scholarship? Did our coach not notice his good friend Tom Izzo benching his stars or even kicking them off of the team when they did not put forth the effort he expected? Just because Leonard might be good someday, is that really justification for letting him play and never block out, or letting him shoot 3's with no body underneath to rebound. In regards to that, why do the guards not get benched if they refuse to drive to the bucket and try drawing some fouls, or when they shoot three's continuously with no body underneath to rebound? How many times do we allow our players to stay in the game when they just stand there and watch the opponent drive in for easy layups or follow a miss with a slam dunk just because no body wants to guard them or block out? How often do we get caught standing around while the other team is diving for a loose ball? It is almost like we are either slow thinkers, or no one has any basketball IQ at all, nor the toughness or desire to be good. If BW recruited the wrong types that is on him for going against what he thought was right, and not benching the players for not doing what he asked is also on him. I have always been a big supporter of Bruce Weber, but I have always been puzzled about his lack of discipline towards players that don't seem to do what he asks. I know he can win with the kind of players he had at SIU because he used to beat the Illini with those players. I always wondered why everyone kept thinking that midmajor players could not beat us because they already were doing it. We could have made a team from the players that we passed on just because they were not from Chicago, or they were not a top 50 player, so we assumed they were not good enough. I would have loved to have Verdell Jones, Lewis Jackson, Robbie Hummel,and a few others we passed on( look how good these guys are at doing all the things that all of our high ranked players cannot do, and they all wanted to be Illini).We would have won a lot more games with them than we did without them. I guess it all comes down to the fact that when you have been successful you should stick with what you believe in and don't let yourself be swayed by public opinion. I am sure Bruce will learn something from all of this, but I feel badly for him and for our Illini for what it is probably going to cost us. If he was sincere in what he said, I still think we should give him the chance to prove it, and stick by his beliefs and his blue collar kids, and see if he can win. It is a sad day for the Illini. How far backwards do we go from here?

SEMOIllini wrote on February 16, 2012 at 3:02 pm

Illini fans have never criticised coaches tactics when they win--it's the losing that brings out the criticism.  So Coach Weber you were hired to win--yet these last three years you let winning games (or rather not losing) detract you from what again---possibly winning?  You were hired to win--develop a team and win.  Fans early this season advised you to sit Leonard on the bench if he couldn't keep his head in the game and was too preoccupied with the NBA--but you didn't do that did you?  Why not?  If you were so focused on winning and knew this team needed to be tougher, who were you listening to when you did not do what was necessary to toughen them up?  Allowing BP to make one turnover after another without sitting him down--what message were you trying to convey?  You didn't give Griffey any slack--he was yanked time and again.  

Coach Weber your soul cleansing comments just do not ring true--it's looks more like CYA time.  Do the right thing for your team, admit you are overwhelmed and step down immediately.  You can do right by the team and the University by just claiming you have PTSD and need rest.  Give the keys to the locker room to Coach Howard--and go grill something.

WyomingIllini wrote on February 16, 2012 at 5:02 pm

Bench Leonard, your not playing him enough, Bench him, You shouldn't take him out in the first half when he gets two fouls, Leonard is great, Leonard is a fouling machine, Leonard has a lot of potential but he makes too many fouls, Bench him, If Leonard had played more we would have won, Coach doesn't use him right, Why is Leonard at the top of the key, Blah Blah Blah. Listen to us fans we know it all. Stupidity  rains in Chambana.

JimOATSfan wrote on February 16, 2012 at 4:02 pm

Hmmm, the Illini shot 14% from the 3 point line (3-21) and the coach is the problem?

You guys sure see things differently.  Poor play on the court is the players fault.  Benching your top 5 guys is only going to embarrass the younger guys who have less experience and playing time. The starters must produce to win all the time.

Good luck rooting for the next coach. Remember only 1 team wins a national championship each year, so your chances of being disappointed are about 95+ out of 100.



WyomingIllini wrote on February 16, 2012 at 5:02 pm


When the ball bounces off the back of the rim player’s adrenaline is using running too high. When the ball bounces off the front of the rim the player is usually tired or pressing. Hmm, I don’t see any reason why this team would be pressing or playing tight. That was sarcasm.

dapoohbear247 wrote on February 16, 2012 at 5:02 pm

Yeah, but lots of coaches are +.500 in their conference over a 5 year span.


Quit defending Weber, he doesn't even defend himself anymore.

helping wrote on February 17, 2012 at 4:02 pm

The coaching problem doesn't come from guys having an off shooting night.  The coaching problem comes from being 26 games into your season and not having addressed problems and weaknesses that were apparent since week 1.  Why are his players putting up 21 threes when they're one of the worst 3-point shooting teams in the nation?  Why are his players not running the plays that they call during the timeouts?  Because the coach didn't have the onions to instill discipline and require respect from the 1st day of practice.  When the players see that there aren't any reprecussions from ignoring the team aspects and from loafing on the court, it's the coach that enabled that environment to flourish who deserves the blame, which Weber himself admitted!

bluehavana wrote on February 16, 2012 at 5:02 pm

The 3 of 21 in my opinion is a coaching problem.  Illinois is dead last in 3pt % but fires away game after game.  That is a program philosophy, we've shot 3's at will the entire Bruce Weber era, including the '05 Championship game.  Paul and Richardson have two years worth of muscle memory to shoot at any open three they get. 

Coach Weber apparently threatened to sit Leonard before the 2nd half vs Purdue if he didn't get going.  My dream would be for him to do the same to the first guy that shoots a 3 pointer against Nebraska.  That line has been a hidden downfall of Illini teams for several seasons.  Yet Paul lights it up on one special night vs OSU this season, and the 3 point illusion continues.

golferTG1 wrote on February 16, 2012 at 7:02 pm

Go ahead and reply at will, but I won't respond to you... But.
I do feel for Bruce. He is a hell of a coach, and I don't care what you think, but he is a hell of a coach, and seems like a hell of a guy. The team just doesn't play with any heart. Now, I know the coach is there to create motivation, but if the team has no heart, there's no chance for it sink in. It also doesn't help when the leader of the team is a freshman, and I really thought DJ was going to step up as a leader, but I was wrong there. as for Bruce, I feel that he should be given at least another year as this team is still young, but that's just my opinion. All in all Bruce has done a great job here, look at win percentage of 69% in his tenure.

dang wrote on February 16, 2012 at 7:02 pm

i am enough of an avid illini fan that with every loss,  it hurts me as much as the players and coaches.  but bottom line is this.   coach weber and the players are not indifferent to losing either, i dont for 1 minute believe that coach weber is "doing this for just the money" and that the players are not playing "without heart".   my only advice to coach weber,    be yourself,   i know you are a great coach.  just do what you think is right.   for the players remember that you should be having fun playing the game of basketball.  compete to your best, but stick together in the tough times.  hopefully the illini fans will stick you also.  i know i will.    hang tough 

ifullofit wrote on February 16, 2012 at 8:02 pm

I just can't help but think how different this season would be if: 

          ML, -would post up low

                -setscreens and face the ball-don't turn your back-

                -get rid of that attitude and play as a team member-let the coach argue with the refs-

        BP, -clean up your turnovers-limit yourself to 2 or 3/ game-

              -start to play at the tipoff-don't wait until the game is out of reach-

              -drive to the basket-don't settle for the 3 unless it's the only shot left-

        JB, -take charge of the team by proving your worth-better defense will help-

              -wait another year for a 3 point shot

              -your talent is that 12 ft. and in jump shot-this is something the team has missed for

                years with our guards-

        DJR, -you have a great 3 point shot when you square up-don't float to the right-

                -don't blame yourself so much-be a team leader-

                -drive to the basket more often

                -don't throw bounce passes to ML at his feet-he is 7 ft. 2in.

        TA, -play the remainder of the season as a point guard who makes plays happen for

                yourself and other team members

              -drive, shoot, pass, make baskets, get free throws, rebound

        TG, -go for the rebound on every shot at both ends don't worry about fouls

               -shot your 3 when it is there-don't force it-

               -talk to the younger players about being a winner

               -don't settle for 3's and passing-drive, drive, drive

       NE, -keep playing hard- you are better as a freshman than ML was-

              -believe in yourself-you can be one of UI best centers

             -work on that turn-around jump shot

              -dunk the ball-don't try bank shots-show your strength




ifullofit wrote on February 16, 2012 at 9:02 pm

Sorry, I would like to add:

            MH . Don't shoot 3's the remainder of the season - drive 15ft. or the layup

                  . keep rebounding - you have great ball instincts

                  . work on defense don't get lazy- stronger defense will give you runaway layups

              SM . be a team leader by teaching- you don't have to be on the court all the time to be a

                     leader. 15 minutes is great

              MS . play hard every minute you play- practice hard and get ready for next year

                    . work on your passing

              BW. let the team run - if they don't run sit them down - most of our points come from

                     getting down the floor faster on offense

                   . the fans would rather see the players having fun and run than slow down offense

                   .you are not done yet- you have 5 more games in regular season to enjoy yourself

                   .let the players go- don't hold them back

              THE TEAM.   If ML leaves for the NBA and everyone else returns, along with the new

                    recruits, and Langford plays, and with more experience players, we have the basics

                    for an excellent team next year no matter who coaches

                  . you are a great group of talented young men the UNIVERSITY can be proud of-

                   now go out there and play your your hearts out. 

              A lot of fans believe in you.




penniless wrote on February 17, 2012 at 7:02 am

A Mob is a ugly thing.Its to easy to get caught up in its uglyness.A new coach has a 50-50 chance to be a hero or victim.Stop all the kicking a downed human being!!

ColoradoMike wrote on February 17, 2012 at 12:02 pm

Weber just lost me when he called the players out by name.  While he did take responsibility as he should, he didn't need to call the players out to do that.  He's right, if the players aren't tough, it's because he's not tough.  You are the man in the room full of 19 and 20 year old kids.  So now how do you feel if you are BP or ML?  "Hey thanks Coach for telling everyone how you've not coached me properly!"

If you want your players to be like the ones you had at SIU or Purdue then go back their and do that because I don't recall either program winning a NCAA Championship in my lifetime.  Illinois will not see another player like Leonard for another generation and now we are in this situation after your outburst.

helping wrote on February 17, 2012 at 4:02 pm

Poor guy, and in the meantime he'll get a $4 million parting gift.  I should be so lucky!