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September 14, 2008 Guest Coach Bruce Weber
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On April 30th, 2003 Bruce Weber was named the new men's head basketball coach for the University of Illinois. Said Ron Guenther, Illinois AD, when he announced the hiring of Weber, "he has all the qualities we were seeking; Midwest roots, Big Ten experience, integrity and commitment to academics." Guenther went on to say, "I think our kids are going to enjoy playing for him because he's honest. I can't say enough about the integrity of Bruce Weber."

Weber, who has obviously earned this opportunity, was spoken of in glowing terms by his long time mentor, teacher and friend Gene Keady, head basketball coach at Purdue, who said, "It's a tremendous opportunity for Bruce. Any job in the Big Ten is a tremendous opportunity. When I took the job at Purdue, I felt like it was a dream come true. I know Bruce feels that way about Illinois because I just spoke with him on Wednesday morning. I'm very proud of him and wish him all the success in the world, except in two games every season, when they play Purdue. It's just a great success story, and I wish Bruce and his family the very best."

Bill Self, current head basketball coach at Kansas, and Weber's predecessor had this to say, "Illinois has made a great choice for its basketball coach. Bruce Weber is a tremendous coach and someone I have a great deal of respect for. We competed against his teams at both Tulsa and Illinois -- we split those games, and we were lucky to do so. Based on what I've seen from afar, he is a players' coach, and Illinois' returners will benefit greatly from his appointment. He will have a similar philosophy to what we did at Illinois -- his teams are always very tough and hard-nosed, yet they have freedom offensively. I'm very pleased for the school and for the players -- Bruce will do a great job in Champaign."

Weber remarked at the time of his appointment, "I've said I would only take a job where I felt I had an opportunity to be at a national program at a place where I had a chance to finish my career ... and have a chance of winning a national championship. And I believe that this is it. I am honored and humbled to be named the coach here, it's a tremendous honor," said Weber, head basketball coach at Southern Illinois the past five seasons.

Weber, who started his head coaching career at Southern Illinois University beginning with the 1998-99 season, enjoyed a large measure of success which propelled him to the UI job.

In five seasons at the helm of the Saluki basketball program Weber coached his teams to an overall record of 103-54 (.656) winning percentage. The Saluki's went 52-15 (.776) winning percentage overall in his last two seasons at Southern Illinois and an astounding 30-6 (.833) winning percentage in conference play. When the smoke cleared following the regular 2002-03 season Weber could take pride in the fact only four Division I teams had won more basketball games the previous two seasons than Southern Illinois had.

In addition Weber's Saluki teams won the Missouri Valley Conference title in back to back seasons and enjoyed back to back trips to the NCAA postseason tournament including a Sweet 16 appearance in 2002. Weber earned Missouri Valley Conference Coach-of-the-Year honors following the 2003 season.

The Bruce Weber coached Saluki teams stock in trade has been an aggressive defense playing fundamentally sound basketball. In Weber's final two seasons at SIU they held opponents to 40% shooting from the field. Offensively they averaged 75.5 points per game in 2002 and 74.5 points per game in 2003. At Weber's departure following the completion of the 2002-03 season SIU has a 27 game home court winning streak.

Weber has 25 years total coaching experience at the NCAA Division I level. He was with Gene Keady for 19 of those seasons including 18 at Purdue. During Weber's coaching days at Purdue the Boilermakers' won six Big Ten championships and made 17 postseason tournament appearances including 14 trips to the NCAA "Big Dance."

Its certainly fair to say Weber has gotten off on the right foot at the University of Illinois. His first season as the Fighting Illini basketball coach produced a 26-7 record (.787) winning percentage, top notch in any coaches league. Weber led the Illini to their first outright Big Ten title in 52 years, having survived a showdown with Ohio State. The 26 games Illinois won in Weber's first year represents the third best in school history. The Fighting Illini finished the 2003-04' season ranked 11th nationally in the final ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll. To top off Weber's first season at the helm the Illini enjoyed a trip to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen.

Bruce and his wife, Megan, have three daughters, Hannah (17), Christy (15) and Emily (11).

 

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