Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Weber, A Chalkboard, and St. Louis

In life, we find that at certain times, we all have to make sacrifices. One of those times occurred for me last night. Due to a prior commitment I made months ago, I was only able to watch and/or listen to the first half of last night's game. Thankfully, I was able to tape the game and sacrifice some sleep in order to watch the second half when I got home. After watching the Illini put away the Spartans 81-68, I started thinking about what to write today. I know that Chief and I often try to do a post-game analysis but with so much media coverage lately, I am sure that by this point in the day, you have probably read the newspaper (for another outstanding article by Greg Couch of the Sun-Times, click here), watched SportsCenter, etc. So instead, let's talk about the biggest thing that stood out to me in last night's game.

It wasn't anything that happened on the court. It was actually something the announcers mentioned in passing. Probably one of those stories they keep handy to fill time. But it stood out to me and I would like to share it with you in case you missed it (and as you read it, remember this happened last seaon--2003-2004). At the beginning of last season, Bruce Weber's first as head coach of the Illini, he wrote two words on the chalkboard: St. Louis. His players thought he was confused and told him the Final Four was in San Antonio this year, not St. Louis. Coach Weber replied that he knew that but he wasn't sure they would be ready to be in San Antonio this year but that next year he thought they could be in St. Louis.

Let that sink in for a minute.......In his first season as a head coach in the Big 10, his first seaon running a major program, getting adjusted to his new team as they got adjusted to him, with probably a million things going through his head and taking place around him, Coach Weber was not only preparing the team for that season but was also taking the steps necessary to prepare this team to be where they are today. He recognized that this team had the potential to do something special and he didn't shy away from putting that goal out in front of them. The goal was St. Louis--he put it in writing and he talked to his team about it. He planted the seed. The team had its challenges last year but that seed took hold and this year the team is seeing the fruits. Kudos to Coach Weber. You have done and are doing a great job. See you in St. Louis.

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