Harrington happy with Whitman's coaching vision

Harrington happy with Whitman's coaching vision

CHAMPAIGN — Part of Josh Whitman’s press conference after firing John Groce resonated with Sean Harrington.

That Whitman stressed he didn’t want it to be a 30 years later “Remember when?” moment about one of the peaks of the Illinois basketball program meant something to the former Illini guard.

“To hear that the head man in charge also has that vision and has that belief, it’s definitely something the fans want to hear and former players want to hear,” said Harrington, who played at Illinois from 2000-03, was director of basketball operations for Bruce Weber’s final four seasons and is now a college basketball analyst for ESPN. “It’s a program that you can get back to the top.”

Harrington’s four seasons helped lead into the peak moment of Illinois making its national championship appearance in 2005. Illinois went 100-35 in Harrington’s career and made the NCAA tournament and finished each season in the Top 25.

“As a former player, we know what this program can be,” Harrington said. “We put in a lot of time and a lot of hard work and were very successful while we were here. It’s something we take a lot of pride in. It’s a great school, a great university. We feel like that about the program, and we feel like it can get back to that.”

Harrington said the Illinois job has lost some of its luster in the last decade. The Illini finished in the top half of the Big Ten four times in that span, and have only made the NCAA tournament three times (2009, 2011 and 2013).

“I would say it’s probably a top-25 job now,” Harrington said. “I think the timing is right, now, to bring somebody in and get the program moving in the right direction. They need a change and maybe a big-name guy to get people excited and get people going in the right direction again.”

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MasterOfTheObvious wrote on March 18, 2017 at 7:03 am

Harrington is cute with his Orange and Blue glasses view of where the Illini program is today.  Top 25?

The Illinois men's basketball program is 3rd best in the state behind Northwestern and Illinois State right now.  

When a program has not made the top 68 in the last 4 years, has no one involved in the program who has been to the NCAA Tournament, it's not Top 25.

Not close.

Keep hope alive, as Jesse used to say, that a miracle basketball coach rides in courtesy of Josh Whitman's search, top national recruits flock to Champaign escewing Duke, Kentucky, UCLA and Michigan State, all of Chicago falls in love with the school 2.5 hours south and starts to buy tickets and donate dollar, the Chief is resurrected and returns to his dancing grounds on Lou Henson Court, Dee Brown gets another 4 years of eligibility, the NCAA vacates the UNC title of 2005 and a Championship Banner is raised in the Assembly Hall, Loren Tate wins a Pulitzer for his first-person account of the whole process, Shaid Khan gives a billion dollars to the DIA, Jimmy John's changes their colors from red and black to Orange & Blue, REO Speedwagon returns to the top of the Billboard charts, Roger Ebert is resurrected and gives the Illini a thumbs up, and Bruce Pearl goes on national television and apologizes to Illini Nation.

Wouldn't this all just be groovy? 



Wiseguy1130 wrote on March 18, 2017 at 9:03 am

Hey Moto.  I'm thinking that in deference to Mr. Tate all should be described as glorious.

Oh, no! I may have just earned another beating.

UNC's title should be vacated if for no other reason than the officiating. Sean May was allowed to bowl over the Illini in the post the whole game while ticky tack fouls were called on James Augustine. Wouldn't really change anything tho.  I can't believe Weber couldn't recruit whoever he wanted after a season like that.


MasterOfTheObvious wrote on March 18, 2017 at 1:03 pm

Illinois got beat in 2005.  The fact that you are still whining about the officiating costing the Illini the game 12 years later proves my point, that Illinois is a substandard program from the inside/out, from the DIA to the fans.  

We coulda been a contender, but the refs took it from us... sad.

Wiseguy1130 wrote on March 18, 2017 at 5:03 pm

I'm reluctant to even respond to that because I can't comment calmly right now.

The program has not performed well in recent years and Illini fans are disappointed. To refer to them as substandard is rather bizarre.


cowpie needs a hobby wrote on March 18, 2017 at 1:03 pm

So cowpie replied to the post he himself wrote as his alter ego moto.

We are getting pretty meta here.

Moonpie wrote on March 18, 2017 at 8:03 am

Masteroftheobvious is correct. Top-25 is a cheerleading fantasy. Perhaps Harrington got that from The Legendary Ancient One. I'll be generous and say top-50 without much conviction.

What is this vision thing Harrington refers to? The Rookie AD barely has a record, let alone any vision. So far, he's hired a mediocre football coach who has a 3-9 record and is facing a similar season.

Maybe Harrington has read too many Tate columns deifying The Rookie AD.

Wiseguy1130 wrote on March 18, 2017 at 9:03 am

The Taters and Kool-Aid drinkers are gonna think you said defier. Here comes another thumping Moonpie. 

Sean is a good guy. I saw him play a few times in high school and was glad he picked Illinois. But for a guard and son of a coach, he wasn't great on free throws.

He's pretty far off on that evaluation.  Probably feels he has to paint it that way. We need to check in with Kenny Battle for one that's realistic.

I'm awaiting a response on the yesterday stuff if you didn't see late entries on "Walker's next move".

I am absolutely baffled as to what I might have said that led to that.

jjohnson wrote on March 18, 2017 at 11:03 am

All you perhaps pseudonymous writers failed to read what Harrington's quote said, not that the program is "top 25," but that the JOB is "top 25."


Wiseguy1130 wrote on March 18, 2017 at 11:03 am

All of us separate and distinct writers did read, I'm sure, but I should only speak for myself.

Regardless of how you interpret, I don't think the program is top 25. But since you know so much, tell us where you think the Illinois job ranks and list the schools that you believe rank above it.

And please don't continue to confuse my smart-aleck with arrogance.


jjohnson wrote on March 18, 2017 at 1:03 pm

Sorry wiseguy, but you still do not get it. I am saying that the article quoted Harrington as saying the job is top 25; he did not say the program is. From my perspective, it (the program) was, but certainly has not been the past five years. I have no idea where the "job" ranks now, but I would think the money and a smart AD and the hope of retaining some decent recruits and developing a few of the juniors-to-be into what they were ranked as coming in would lead a coach who is capable of our returning to a top 25 PROGRAM to take the job. 

Wiseguy1130 wrote on March 18, 2017 at 6:03 pm

I do get it.

My opinion is that the Illinois job has not been top 25 for many years. If it was, overtures to Kelvin Sampson, Shaka Smart, Tom Crean, Mark Few, etc., would not have been rejected. Unless those refusals were all based solely on $$$, but I don't think they were.

Calling it a top 25 job now based on future aspirations or potential?  Silly. But I hope it becomes so again.


cowpie needs a hobby wrote on March 18, 2017 at 1:03 pm

well moonpie, er moto, er wiseguy have routinely demonstrated around here that reading comprehension is not a strong suit.

But they huff and puff at straw regarless.

JamesB wrote on March 18, 2017 at 4:03 pm

My word there are some obnoxious posters on this site.  Harrington's assessment of the Illinois basketball head coaching position being a top 25 job is an opinion and one I agree with.  It is not an opinion based on the recent failings but on potential.  Illinois is a highly rated university in a power 5 conference, situated near recruiting hotbeds of Peoria, Chicago and St Louis.  You can't ask for a better setup than that.

I think Harrington is basing his assessment on where the program was under Henson, Kruger, Self, and the first couple of years under Weber.  Why some fans won't acknowledge this potential is hard for me to understand.  Maybe they're trolls who support other teams?  It's confusing.