This past evening I watched as the buzzer sounded and yet another Illini Basketball loss was added to their record. The House of Paign has turned into a House of Shame. The days of coming to Champaign and knowing the Illini were going to win their home games now just seems like a distant memory in the rear view mirror that is the Bruce Weber Era. Bruce was lucky enough to coach talent like Deron Williams, Dee Brown, James Augustine, Luther Head, and Roger Powell. His system worked with elite talent who can pass and shoot the basketball and make sound decisions. The product was a National Championship appearance and the expectations of greater seasons to come. This just has not happened. The seasons since Dee and James left as seniors have been mediocre at best. They have gone from talking Final Fours to a group of low level BCS teams on the Final Four Out List who have to sweat out Selection Sunday to see if they will be dancing. Illinois should never be a bubble team. Ever. The fans deserve better. The University of Illinois is ripe for being a national basketball powerhouse. People like to use the term "sleeping giant" to refer to programs that have all the resources and potential, but just needs the right person to wake it up and lead them to the promised land. I feel Illinois had that in Bill Self. He was a take no prisoners recruiter and he showed what Illinois can produce with home grown talent from Chicago as well as national recruiting out of state. If you can recruit Chicago and get the best talent from the state of Illinois you will compete at the highest level not only in the Big Ten but nationally. The problem with Coach Weber is that he is too old school for the current state of college basketball. He plays a slow style of basketball that kids just don't want to play. Kids want to run up and down the court and play a free style of offense. In order to play that style you have to recruit players who have those skill sets. The current Illini players are slashing, driving, and running type of players which would fit to a faster paced offense. In Weber's offense they don't shoot jump shots particularly well and watching them weave and run 30 seconds off the shot clock and then have Brandon Paul throw up a bail out three is just painful. I believe there is talent on the current team but for what ever reason it isn't jelling and that is the job of the coach. I really don't like calling for people to be fired from their jobs, as I wouldn't want that for me, but I also am realistic in the nature of being a Division I head basketball coach at a Top 15 program historically in that this is what comes with it. I really think regardless of what happens the rest of the season it is time new Athletic Director Mike Thomas does what he did for the football program and makes a change. In doing so he needs to find someone who is a fearless recruiter, a young tireless worker, and has an open offensive mind. (It wouldn't even hurt to hire the first African-American coach either.)The key really is finding someone with Midwest/Chicago ties who can lock down the Chicago market and keep homegrown talent in state. We need to keep the likes of North Carolina, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, etc. from taking our talent elsewhere. It CAN be done just look at the 1989 Flying Illini basketball team and everyone of those players were form the state of Illinois. There is a reason people still talk about them so highly. They were awesome and Illinois produced them. Enough is Enough and the ILLINI NATION can't take it anymore. It is time to change the culture in Champaign and get the Illini a new leader.
Illini basketball has slept long enough and the giant is ready to wake up.