What happened: For a team with a future NBA draft pick in the paint, the following numbers are almost a basketball sin. Illinois tied a season-high by launching 26 three-pointers — and zero free throws. It's always been an offense that relies heavily on the jump shot; seven long years ago the UI shot 40 threes in the NCAA title game. And considering this is likely Meyers Leonard's final run at Illinois, this season might be the most frustrating of all.
What it means: Thursday's game — and this season — was the Weber era in a nutshell: Start with a flurry but struggle to the finish. A clean break is for the best. Weber can have a fresh start at a new place. He already is receiving preliminary interest from programs that have — or expect to have — job openings. And Mike Thomas can continue his research for a replacement. The AD watched from a suite and has received interest from coast-to-coast.
What the Illini said: "If I'm the coach at Illinois, I'll coach every day just like I always do. I think we're a bubble team for the NIT. We just have to see how things unfold. For the kids' sake, I would like something positive." — Bruce Weber
What the Hawkeyes said: "I don't want to go home. I want to keep playing. I don't want to take this uniform off." —senior Matt Gatens
What's next: A coaching change is imminent; it's a matter of when. Weber was expected to meet with Thomas late Thursday or Friday, according to sources. After nine seasons, Weber's tenure is in its twilight hours. There were tears in the coach's eyes as the team prepared to leave the locker room at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. On the other side of the room, Leonard said he wished his teammates good luck, another indication of big changes coming.