Saturday, December 09, 2006

Weber Wins First 200 And More

Coach weber is on the rise after logging his 200th career NCAA win over IUPUI on December 6th. Sure, he has a long way to go to catch Rupp, Smith, and Knight - but this is a good start. Overall, he's now 97-18 as head coach for ILLINIOS. Many of those 200 wins came at Southern Illinois. But his record in just over two short-seasons in Champaign (nine overall in CBB) has been awesome. Overall, he's now 201 and 72 as a head coach. With 192 wins entering this season, he's 3rd fastest overall after just 8 years by a head coach.

Pretty impressive stuff. His teams are skilled, tenacious, and known for their agressive pressing defense (at both ends of the floor). Coach Weber has led the ILLINI through its most successful stretch of CBB in school history, including Lou Henson's reign.

Here are some additional imposing numbers:

  • Under Coach Bruce, we're 47-3 at the hall (94%).
  • The 2004/5 season ties the NCAA record for most wins (37). Should have been 38!
  • We're 39-9 in the BIG-10 under Coach Weber's leadership. Wow! (81.3%).
  • 44-4 during the regular season against non-conference foes.
  • 20-7 on the road (74.1%).
  • 8-3 in the NCAA Tourney, including our first - ever appearance in the Title Game Vs. UNC.
  • 13-5 in the post-season overall.
  • 29-6 all - time at the United Center (Since 1996); including today's win over UIC.

This guy can coach. And this year might be his toughest challenge in Champaign w/o that true senior leadership provided in the past by Brown, Head, Powell, and others. This-year's squad is much younger and therefore more inexperienced. The injuries to key players don't help either (Smith, Randle, Pruitt, McBride). Still, we're at 9-2 to start the campaign this year. Both of our losses were to quality programs (Maryland and Arizona). That being said, we should be 11-0 at this point heading into the BELMONT game.

Today's game was another victory, although somewhat of a disappointing ending. Again, we let the lead slip away down the stretch and had to play hard-ball for the victory (71-66 over UIC). The keys to victory today included clutch 3-point shooting from McBride and Meachem down the stretch. Good to see Brian Randle (9 points / 9 rebounds) back on the court after missing 9 games with a groin injury. My team is starting to get healthy and look better.

Don't get me wrong, there' still a lot of work to do before BIG-10 play opens in January. We still get Missour and XAVIER before going to Ann Arbor on January 3rd to face a good Michigan squad. That will be a tough way to start the 2007 campaign for sure.

It's hard to say how far this squad can go this year. I've previously thought 24-6 isn't out of the question IF we get and stay healthy the rest of the way. Of course, 18-12 is also a possibility. Our conference schedule is favorable this year with only two combined games (instead of 4) against Ohio State and Wisconsin - both at the HALL. I'm looking forward to that January 6th showdown in Champaing with those BUCKEYES and Oden.

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