When asked if he thought his team would accept an NIT bid, embattled Illinois coach Bruce Weber responded “I don’t know, I don’t know if we’ll make the NIT to be honest.”
After falling to Iowa in the opening game of the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis, all signs seem to be pointing to Weber’s imminent departure from Champaign and the University of Illinois. In his post game comments Weber was reserved and calm, not the meltdown he had after losing to Purdue earlier this season or the anger he has shown so many other times. Weber who once guided the Illini to a Final Four and multiple Big Ten titles seemed to understand that this is likely the end.
“Sometimes, life isn’t fair, and basketball isn’t fair….If you just go on a pity party for yourself, nothing is going to happen.”
The Illini didn’t just need to make a run in the Big Ten Tournament, they needed to win the whole thing to make the NCAA Tournament, failing to do so would mean the Illini miss their third dance in five seasons, that combined with the abysmal record to close the season is probably too much for AD Mike Thomas to ignore.
The Illini season, which started so well at 15-3, fell off a cliff as they dropped consecutive close games to Penn State Minnesota and Wisconsin.
“We have so much talent, I feel like we have all the pieces we could possibly need,” Meyers Leonard said after the latest loss “we were just missing one thing.”
It is a question that has dogged the Illini all year.
“When Meyers said what are we missing? I think it was a leader. We thought we had it early in Sam, but then his ankle got hurt.”
In the end though, it looks like it wont be Bruce Weber who is left to try and find that leader on the team, but it seems as though he is already at peace with that.Follow paulmbanks