Bruce Weber has given the devoted fans of Southern Illinois basketball yet another reason to be proud. Prior to last season, you might have found a Saluki fan reminiscing about the days of Walt Frazier and the 1967 NIT championship team, or Mike Glenn and the Sweet 16 team of 1977, or the remarkable three-year run of NCAA Tournament appearances from 1993 to 1995.
Now, Saluki fans will proudly look back upon the 2002 season as arguably the best in school history.
The incredible 2001-02 campaign that ended in a 12-point loss to UConn in the Sweet 16, was about more than just winning, however. It was about establishing a special bond between a coach, his team and its diehard fans.
That set the stage for the 2001-02 campaign, which featured a full roster of players recruited by Weber and his staff. Under the astute supervision of the Gene Keady protege, SIU raced up the polls and the RPI rankings by knocking off big-name opponents such as Indiana, Iowa State, Georgia and Texas Tech.
It was like waking a sleeping giant, as Saluki fans in the community and the region flocked to SIU Arena to watch history in the making. Versus Indiana, the school recorded its first home sellout in 12 years.
The excitement reached a crescendo when the Salukis were assigned to Chicago for the NCAA Tournament. Chants of “SIU,” “SIU” filled the United Center as the Salukis defeated Texas Tech and Georgia.
The trademark of a Bruce Weber-led team is its aggressive, fundamentally sound defense, which was prominently displayed before a national television audience in the tournament wins. Opponents were held to 40.3 percent shooting against SIU last season, the best mark by a Saluki defense since 1967-68. Only four teams shot better than 45 percent against Southern last year.
Energetic and personable, Weber appeared on numerous national radio and television programs on networks such as ESPN, Fox Sports and CNN, bringing unprecedented publicity to Carbondale and Southern Illinois University.
Last summer, the administration of Southern Illinois University demonstrated its commitment to keeping Weber by giving him a raise and signing him to a three-year contract extension that runs through the 2006-07 season and rolls over after each season.
His passion for winning remains unquenchable. Before the season, he re-stated the team’s goals: win the Valley championship, win the MVC Tournament and make another run in the NCAA Tournament.
A rising star in the coaching ranks, Weber remains in close contact with his friend and mentor, Coach Keady. The Keady-Weber years at Purdue produced some remarkable achievements, including 17 postseason appearances (14 NCAA/3 NIT), six Big Ten Championships, two NCAA Sweet Sixteen appearances and one trip to the NCAA Elite Eight (1994).
His association with Keady also allowed Weber to gain experience on the international level. He was an assistant coach for the USA Team at the World University games in 1989 and the Pan American games in 1991.
Prior to Purdue, Weber coached one season at Western Kentucky (1979-80), where the team won the Ohio Valley Conference and advanced to the NCAA Tournament.
Born October 19, 1956, the Milwaukee-native began his coaching career as a high school head coach in Madison, Wis., from 1975-79.
A 1978 graduate of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Bruce and his wife, Megan, have three daughters and reside in Carbondale.
|1979-80||Western Kentucky||Assistant||21-8||10-2||NCAA 1st Round|
|1980-81||Purdue||Assistant||21-11||10-9||NIT Final Four|
|1982-83||Purdue||Assistant||21-9||11-7||NCAA 2nd Round|
|1983-84||Purdue||Assistant||22-7||15-3||NCAA 1st Round|
|1984-85||Purdue||Assistant||20-9||11-7||NCAA 1st Round|
|1985-86||Purdue||Assistant||22-10||11-7||NCAA 1st Round|
|1986-87||Purdue||Assistant||25-5||15-3||NCAA 2nd Round|
|1987-88||Purdue||Assistant||29-4||16-2||NCAA Sweet 16|
|1989-90||Purdue||Assistant||22-8||13-5||NCAA 2nd Round|
|1990-91||Purdue||Assistant||17-12||9-9||NCAA 1st Round|
|1991-92||Purdue||Assistant||18-15||8-10||NIT 3rd Round|
|1992-93||Purdue||Assistant||18-10||9-9||NCAA 1st Round|
|1993-94||Purdue||Assistant||29-5||8-10||NCAA Elite Eight|
|1994-95||Purdue||Assistant||25-7||9-9||NCAA 2nd Round|
|1995-96||Purdue||Assistant||26-6||14-4||NCAA 2nd Round|
|1996-97||Purdue||Assistant||18-12||15-3||NCAA 2nd Round|
|1997-98||Purdue||Assistant||28-8||12-4||NCAA Sweet 16|
|1998-99||Southern Illinois||Head Coach||15-12||10-8||-|
|1999-00||Southern Illinois||Head Coach||20-13||12-6||NIT 2nd Round|
|2000-01||Southern Illinois||Head Coach||16-14||10-8||-|
|2001-02||Southern Illinois||Head Coach||28-8||14-4||NCAA Sweet 16|
|at Southern Illinois||79-47||46-26|
Charting Weber's Success
• 20 Postseason appearances
• 16 NCAA Tournament appearances
• 4 National Invitation Tournament appearances
• One NCAA Elite Eight appearance (1994)
• Three NCAA Sweet Sixteen appearances
• 6 Big Ten Championships
• 1 Missouri Valley Conference Championship (2002)
• 1 Ohio Valley Conference Championship (1980)
• World University Games assistant (1989)
• Pan American Games assistant (1991)