Chew to Marquette - and explains why

CHAMPAIGN – Illinois basketball missed the NCAA tournament – not to mention the NIT – and previously endured several seasons of mediocre results.

So it was destined to be a rebuilding job.

Now the new coach has to rebuild his staff, too.

John Groce has another hire to make after learning assistant coach Isaac Chew is leaving Illinois for Marquette. Chew said Tuesday he has accepted a position on Buzz Williams’ staff in Milwaukee.

The difficulty of the decision was evident. Chew had been in Champaign-Urbana for roughly six weeks – his family had yet to move to town – and had grown close to the new Illinois staff.

Illinois made a counter-offer to entice Chew to stay at Illinois. But the opportunity to join Williams, who has taken Marquette to consecutive Sweet 16s and has turned down multiple job offers from other programs to stay at the Big East school, was too attractive. Chew was scheduled to leave for Milwaukee on Tuesday night.

“It was an emotional decision. It was emotional for me and for my wife and my family,” Chew said by phone. “Coach Groce is going to do a great job (at Illinois). This had nothing to do with the challenge. I think the world of coach Groce and his staff. I just couldn’t pass up this opportunity. That’s just the bottom line.”

Groce had hired Chew away from Missouri, where he was an assistant on Frank Haith’s staff for one season. Prior to that, Chew spent four years at Murray State, where he helped recruit the core of the roster that barnstormed the Ohio Valley Conference and advanced to the NCAA tournament last season.

His ties to Chicago, where he attended high school, made him an attractive candidate for Groce’s staff.

Unfortunately for the Illini, it also made him an attractive candidate for Marquette. And the news of the move came as a shock to the Illini coaches, a tight-knit group that is quite optimistic about the staff Groce has pieced together.

But there clearly is a hill to climb in returning Illinois to its former self. Make no mistake: this project is viewed as a rebuild.

Groce already had filled one position that opened up when a staffer left for another job. Brandon Miller, a former Ohio State assistant, replaced Ramon Williams in an administrative capacity.

Williams left Illinois for Virginia Tech. That move wasn’t a surprise; Williams went from an administrative role in the Midwest to a full-time assistant coaching position near his hometown of Roanoke, Va.

Chew's decision made sense from his standpoint. Now the Illini will need to make another hire that makes sense from theirs.

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ElDuderino wrote on May 29, 2012 at 9:05 pm

Really? I like coach Groce, enjoyed watching his Ohio team in the NCAA tourney... But it's looking like a revolving door here. Are people coming to Illinois just for resume purposes?  Usually a person doing that at least stays for a year.  Cheese and rice, 6 weeks? Just to leave for Marquette? Marquette? I hope people don't blame this one on Weber

Bear8287 wrote on May 30, 2012 at 11:05 am

Chew leaving for Marquette has nothing directly to do with Coach Weber.

> Make no mistake: this project is viewed as a rebuild.

Now that.  That's all about Coach Weber.  He definitely didn't leave the program in the condition that it was handed to him...

Downtown wrote on May 30, 2012 at 10:05 pm

Why Marquette?  Maybe because they are coming off back to back Sweet 16s, finished 2nd in the Big East and aren't a rebuilding project?  Hate to say, but we don't exactly match up to that right now.

Jam wrote on May 29, 2012 at 9:05 pm

The truth is  College sports (basketball and football in particular) is a cutthroat business. 

illiniart wrote on May 29, 2012 at 10:05 pm

It may be a cuthroat business, but it seems to be our throat that is being cut lately.   From the day Zook was fired, there seems to have been one miscue after another.  Let's hope that Thomas and these new guys are better than they've shown so far.

DoubleR13 wrote on May 30, 2012 at 7:05 am

What a CLASSLESS move by Isaac Chew.  I hope he fail miserably.  You don't go through life, regardless of what your job is, pulling stunts like this.  Just a classless man.  

Also could Buzz Williams be any less classy?  Who repeatedly goes after someone else's Assistant that has been on the job for less than 2 months.

TheGallopingGhost77 wrote on May 30, 2012 at 9:05 am

Seriously, I mean only 6 or 7 weeks on the job and he bails?  That's terrible.   I lost a lot of respect for Buzz Williams as well.  He obviously recrutied Chew to come to Marquette while knowing that Chew was employed at Illinois.

Downtown wrote on May 30, 2012 at 10:05 pm

And Chew was previously employed at Missouri.....

dljonesz wrote on May 30, 2012 at 7:05 am

Agree that it was classless act and things like this have a way of coming back to bite the person(s) who do it. In any event, it looks like Groce must have made a good choice in Chew since he seemed to be attractive to others. At least, unlike Weber, he is selecting people that are sought after and not simply retreads. Groce will find another coach with Chicago about Deon Thomas?

STLINI wrote on May 30, 2012 at 8:05 am

Good riddance.  If he would leave after only 7 weeks, then it's obvious that the guy couldn't care less about Illinois.  Chew had a good resume, but it's not like we can't get somebody just as good, that actually wants to coach at Illinois.  A guy like Paris Parham makes a lot of sense to me.  This has no reflection on Groce, he can't control a guy that doesn't want to be here.  We'll be fine. 

Jam wrote on May 30, 2012 at 10:05 am

Perhaps we see again that when it comes to trying to keep Illinois down opposing coaches and teams will stop at nothing.  I am of course refering to the Deon Thomas debacle where coaches from other teams made fabricated charges to hold down the recruiting efforts of Coach Henson. It is to the advantage of other teams in the midwest if Illinois is kept down so that they can recruit the Chicago area without Illinois around.

uofiisu wrote on May 30, 2012 at 10:05 am

Haha not one of Thomas' hires have even coached a game yet so exactly what opportunity have they been given to show anything?? An assistant left a staff for a better position... it happens all the damn time and it shouldn't reflect poorly on either Groce or Thomas. 

Bear8287 wrote on May 30, 2012 at 10:05 am

> But there clearly is a hill to climb in returning Illinois to its former self.

Very punny Paul!


Go Illini!

DaisyJ wrote on May 30, 2012 at 11:05 am

Glad we found out how this guy operates. It is on his record now. What a bum. If you cannot honor

your committment then how can you ever trust him. We will live without him. Who knows, he may

not show up at Marquette either.

jimbo2009 wrote on May 30, 2012 at 12:05 pm

Is it true that Kintucky has now offered Chewbacca more $$ than Marquette, so he's heading south?  :)

jimbo2009 wrote on May 30, 2012 at 12:05 pm

Is it true that Kintucky has now offered Chewbacca more $$ than Marquette, so he's heading south?  :)

dave1956 wrote on May 30, 2012 at 2:05 pm

Chew on this Chew. This is his 3rd job this year. Missouri, Illinois, now Marquette. He is a vagabond, a carbet bagger and i hope he fails miserably. how can you trust a guy like this who goes from job to job trying to pad his resume. Good Riddance. How long will he stay at Marquette?

GW wrote on May 30, 2012 at 3:05 pm

The guy only spent a year at Missouri, it shouldn't be a surprise that he's baling on Illini. Good riddance

Go Illini!!

Dann001 wrote on May 31, 2012 at 2:05 am

Now, watch Jalen James go to Marquette!

dave1956 wrote on May 31, 2012 at 3:05 pm

If Jalen James wasnt talented enough to play at Illinois he certainly isnt good enough to play for Marquette.

CecilColeman wrote on May 31, 2012 at 10:05 pm

With his Chicago ties, how many Chicago lads were playing for Mizzou or for Murray State?

Hey, Isaac.......don't let the door hit you on the way out................

tunacommander wrote on June 04, 2012 at 6:06 pm

I am especially sickened by this one. Chew could get along with anybody. Why were there these "really confrontational" coaches meetings not toned down? Nobody wants to work in a "boot camp" type setting.