Bruce Weber Show Recap

Bruce Weber discusses numerous topics on his Monday evening show including the injury situation at Illinois with Deron Williams and James Augustine as well as the previous week's games. Callers also called in to give Bruce their thoughts on the direction of the Illinois basketball program.

Brian Barnhart: Coach we've been talking off the air, and these last two weeks have been a blur. It's been a bunch of basketball games and now we don't have one for about eight days.

Coach Weber: Well, we had a bunch of travel and basketball games, and it was a blur. A lot of things happened, and then when you add Deron's injury into the mix it made for a long day Thursday and a long day Friday, and even Saturday, just waiting for that eight o'clock start. That was an eternity, but you won three out of four, but you hoped you would have played a little better in New York against Providence, but you didn't. Hopefully now you can have some more practice time here until we get through these exams and make some strides and get ready for Missouri.

B: Give us the update on Deron. How's he doing?

W: Well, he went back to the doctor today. Our trainer took him there, and the trainer has got to get a big gold heart between these last few days with Deron getting hurt and James Augustine getting hurt on Friday in practice.

I think between Friday's practice and Saturday's game, Al did therapy with James five times. Al took Deron to the doctor today, the surgeon, and they said everything's fine. Right now we got to get [Deron] off the medication, the pain killers, slowly, but surely. He wants to sleep at night, but during the day we will slowly wean him from that.

Hopefully next Monday the goal will be to get him back to the doctor and he'll allow him to start doing some conditioning, the bike, but not any physical contact, the week after if everything goes well, he will start doing some more stuff. It is going to be tough on him, and I think he is going to go through a little of a depression state at first. It hits you, you have the surgery, and miss a game and all of a sudden now it is like 'Man, I am not going to play for a while.' So it's going to be hard.

B: It was great to see him the other night on the bench.

W: Well, he came to practice on Friday after surgery. He had a three hour surgery, and then recovery time. He asked Al if he could come, but he was a little drugged up. He was just sitting there smiling, having fun.

I told everybody after the game that he wrote one thing on the board before the game to motivate the guys and he said 'Please Call out Screens.' Hopefully it's a hard lesson learned, especially for him. We'll make sure we call out screens in the future.

B: I think of all the games we have played this year, I thought emotionally that was the first time I saw us, between Deron and everything that happened at Providence, I felt really like these guys were together as a unit. Not that they have not gotten along, but they were in a fight, and they were going to win this thing.

W: The played to win the game. I really that was key, instead of just playing to play the game. We always talk about losing you to the team, and I think everybody lost their selves to the team.

I thought Dee made major strides. He is not getting the numbers. Somebody yesterday while I was at the store said 'Well, he's still struggling,' but I said 'Well, you know he might have played the best game he's played' at least since I've been here. Coach McClain saw in the last two years, just as far as playing a tough hard nosed game, being the leader. All the things that I talked about early, 7 assists, and 7 rebounds. For him to get 6 defensive rebounds, that's a whole bunch. He stuck his nose into the action, and made sure we made the right plays, got it to the right people, and fought through cramps.

B: He wasn't feeling good.

W: No. I think he was so worked up. He called me Friday night at about midnight to 12:30 and I guess he just wanted to say he was okay and that we were going to be fine, or something I don't know. He was there really early for shooting practice Saturday. He was really wound up. I think he felt a little bit of, he was struggling, and he felt that the team was on his shoulders, and he really came through for us.

B: Al right, let's go to some phone calls. A couple of guys have been waiting here. Jack in Belleville, good evening Jack.

Jack: How are you guys doing?

B: Good

J: We get fed what the St. Louis media gives us down here, most of the time. Coach today's little article about you being concerned about how the fans are looking at the coaching. I think I want to just give you a little perspective about where some of them are coming from, although I am not one of the ones on the IlliniBoard that posts. One of the things, this program was on the verge of becoming a top five program, and I think you have inherited some things that you could not control with Villanueva not coming and then of course with Livingston going to Duke.

I think the thing that concerns most people is that when we played North Carolina and Roy Williams was into the game, pumping his fist. Then the cameras pan over and you were standing on the sideline and just kind of letting things go, as far as the flow of the game, and the same thing in the Providence game. I think when they show the Providence coach into the ballgame and then they pan over to you, and it looks like you are contemplating what you are going to do and our team did not look good out on the floor. I think that is where some of the fans are coming from. I know we were kidding and saying if Gene Keady, your mentor, would have been at North Carolina we would have probably seen that sport coat flying.

B: Let's let him address that, okay?

W: I think one of the things is I am trying to get a feel of the team. As the game goes on, you are trying to be positive with them and make sure when you are struggling that you can go one way or the other, you can break the clipboard, or you can try to be positive. We've gone through a lot of frustration, the inner problems with the team as far as the suspensions, the disciplines, and all that. You are just trying to keep everything kind of afloat. At the time, I am just trying to help instruct.

Somebody said, "Why didn't you get after the official?" Well, we were not playing good enough to get after the officials. We're trying to teach, and to get them to understand what's going on. I think on Saturday against Memphis, I showed a lot more emotion. I just said 'heck with it', and we are going to coach and get after it and make sure the guys play their butts off. Whether we are pretty or not, it got to the point where I just said heck with it, I am not going to worry about that anymore.

B: Let's go to Bloomington. RJ, good evening.

RJ: Hey Coach Weber, I just wanted to say that I commend you for your faith and maintaining stability with the Illini camp over there. Like you said you have gone through some injuries and some discipline, and I think your personality fits in the Big Ten. I've seen you work in the Valley, and I want to commend you again for not jumping on the officials, and not letting us be the scapegoats for a team that just came out flat. I know you will do a good job over there. They've got the right guy over there, and unfortunately Illini fans are a little slow in understand that. You're the future over there coach, and keep up the good work.

B: OK Thanks for the call.

W: Thank you.

B: Anything you want to say about that?

W: Well, I appreciate the call, but the one thing is that every game has been a little different. The Carolina game, I think our kids came out too hyped. It was like over emotional, you have to have emotion, but you have to control the emotion. Carolina, the whole thing, the crowd got to us. I think we settled down in the second half and played a little bit better basketball.

Providence game, I have said since the beginning that we have to respect every opponent and I don't think our kids respected them. The road trip took a toll on us, and I think we just kind of ran out of energy and life in the second half. The whole thing, I have said a lot of things, and people have kind of gotten mad at me, but I said we did not have great maturity as a team, we didn't have a go to guy, the leadership was a question, and our post play was a question. Well, in the Providence game and in the Carolina game, we needed a bucket we did not have a guy that stepped up and made the shot. When we needed somebody to stop somebody in the post, we did not have that. The maturity part, I think it was obvious in the Providence game that we just had a mental meltdown, and it took its toll. I think we have learned from that, and hopefully we are moving on and we are going to do a better job in the future.

B: You and I have talked about this and when you look at last year's games when things got tough, there was always Brian Cook. I mean he was the guy that you went to.

W: You ask the players who they went to, and you watch the games. There was one game last year, I can't remember which one, but he scored more points than the other team in the second half.

B: It was Michigan maybe.

W: Yeah. We got to develop that guy. I hope it's Dee, I hope its Deron Williams when he comes back. I would love James to step up; I mean he's played great, very consistent. So, it will slowly but surely come about I believe. My thing is that everybody had such high expectations, and I still have high expectations, but it takes a while. Then when you throw in all the problems, and now an injury, it has not been easy. We're trying to figure everything out.

B: Just one of the buckets for James Augustine on the night, and Richard McBride had a huge night.

W: Yeah, both of them had career highs I think. The crazy thing is [James] has that injury, and we don't even know if he is going to play. He cannot even lift his right arm up on Friday night. Its amazing how injuries, things that happened to Deron that makes other people kind of step up.

Rich McBride, finally he got on track. We knew he could shoot the ball well. I think he had been a little bit cautious in the early games, and now he finally got one down. One of the problems with the suspensions was that when you brought those guys back, you were on the road for that long trip, and you just feel much more comfortable at home. You have the crowd behind you, it is amazing what that home cookin' can do. He got going and had a great game for us.

B: Let's go to a car phone. Mike, good evening.

Mike: Hey coach, I just wanted to give you two cents in regards to the job you are doing. I think that if people that own their own business look at this and go, you've got fifteen, sixteen people and you are running your own small business and you go through the stuff you just went through. I think it is a heckuva job you have been doing. I may be a little bit biased, my folks have watched your teams at SIU for the whole time you were at SIU and they were very downhearted whenever they lost. When they heard you were coming up here, they were begging me to get tickets to see you up here. Just hang in there, we're with you

W: I appreciate that, and it has been a tough stretch. Part of that when you ask is just getting the kids to buy in and believe in you. When I talked about it before, I think some of our guys are so fragile, especially in this early part. I'm just trying to, between keeping Dee on target and going towards our goals and all those things, I think that has kind of added into the mix. Instead of coaching, I am doing everything else. I joke about it, I have meetings to discuss what we had in other meetings, and then I have to go to another meeting and tell them what I did in the meeting. Then its 2 o'clock in the afternoon and the coaches say 'what are we doing in practice?' I say 'I don't know, I have not thought about that yet,'

Hopefully things will settle down, we have had more guys miss games in this short stretch than I had in five total years [at SIU].

B: Really?

W: Oh, I mean its not even close. We have not had one guy miss a game for two years because of an injury. I guess maybe it is all catching up and the basketball gods are all coming back at me. Kent Brown the SID called me on Friday night and said it can't get any worse after Deron's injury, while I called him and told him it just did with James' injury. So, it's been a tough stretch.

B: Alright, let's go back to the phones. Jim in Rockford. Jim, good evening.

Jim: Good evening guys how you doing? Hey coach, a quick comment for you and then a quick question. Please understand the pimple faced internet champions that have been giving you grief (audible laughter is heard from Weber and Barnhart) are exactly that. They don't have a concept of basketball; they can't make a lay-up, let alone even touch the net. These are the same people that said going into the season that we would not miss Brian Cook and Sean Harrington. Please understand that a lot of the people that are going to give you grief are just clueless.

My question is this. You know James just scored a silent 21 points, or whatever it was. The thing that frustrates me, even though he played a sensational game, is we keep hearing how he is lacking in post moves. Yet, I see late in the second half, or midway through the second half, when he puts that pivot move on the baseline from about five feet and throws up that left handed hook. As a traditionalist, that is something that is never even taught any more. And that was a sweet looking shot. Is that something he works on, do the coaches work on it with him, or does he just lack confidence in that? Because I will tell you that if he can hit that with any consistency, he will be averaging twenty a game.

B: Thanks Jim.

W: Thank you, it is a great observation. He hit one of those in the exhibition games. We brought it up then. I think he thinks too much, and he doesn't have confidence. I talked to his high school coaches and they said they could not get him to play with his back to the basket all the time either. He just never felt comfortable. We do work on it; we worked on it this morning. If you add that to how he runs and how he goes to the boards, and if he gets one post move. You don't need a whole bunch of them. We talk about a killer and a counter, a killer post move and a counter post move, if they are good enough you are successful. Karl Malone does the same thing every time, but no one can stop him, he's that good. He could have great numbers, I don't know about 20, but he could have 15 and be very consistent. He also has great energy and he plays as hard as anybody. He was one of our top runners. One thing we do have to do is get him a little bit stronger. I hope he gets convinced of that after the Providence game.

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