NCAA Talk

Illini's Leonard shooting high in 2012 NBA Draft

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Illini's Leonard shooting high in 2012 NBA Draft

His college resume is thin to say the least, but at 7-foot-1 and 240 pounds, Meyers Leonard's NBA hopes aren't as slim as you might think.

The draft is short on centers, which bodes well for the former Illini big man who has already drawn interest from several NBA teams. The most logical spot for Meyers to land is Milwaukee at No. 12 since the Bucks need to replace Andrew Bogut, whom they traded to Golden State in March.

But, depending on how things shake out, Leonard could land in the Top 10. You figure UConn's Andre Drummond and North Carolina's Tyler Zeller will go first, leaving Leonard as the third center available, and if a team really wants a big man, they may take a reach with the Big Ten's leading shotblocker.

Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle told me at the NBA Pre-Draft camp Thursday that Golden State was very high on Leonard and might take a flyer on him as a back-up to Bogut. It's hard to believe the relatively inexperienced Leonard would go seventh, but after talking to several people at the combine, I'm starting to think anything is possible.

The downside to Leonard, of course, is his lack of maturity on the court in terms of basketball skills and mentality. At Illinios, he was prone to emotional outbursts at times, which led to run-ins with head coach Bruce Weber, but Leonard insists he's grown-up and learned a lot from his two years in Champaign.

"With Coach Weber, they just wanted me to be the best I could be," explained Meyers who spoke to Weber the night before the combine. "I appreciate the way they pushed me to be the best I can be. I don't think the word immaturity or emotionally unstable is right at all. Most people know I'm willing to work hard. I'm just going to continue to prove to people that I've matured."

Leonard might be able to convince NBA coaches he has the right mental makeup to play in the NBA, but most think he's still a project. It's one more label Leonard has had to deal with, but this one doesn't rub him the wrong way.

"I don't take it hard, everyone has their opinion," said Leonard. "Everyone can get better at the game. I take it as they see potential in me. It's not a negative comment, I understand I have to come to the gym and get better and develop."

So Leonard is putting in the time, working out three times a day, eating right and getting his rest. And, the Robinson, Ill., native is extra motivated to fulfill his NBA dreams for family reasons to help finance medical care for his mother who suffers from health problems and to make his brother, who just returned from serving a second tour of duty in Afghanistan, proud.

"The first day I walked in the gym, a guy asked me what my motivation was. I said 'my mom and being able to help her is a heartwarming feeling,'" said a determined Leonard. "And my brother is in California finishing his duties. I have so much love and respect for him."

Leonard is hoping the good feelings continue come draft day. He should go in the first round, projected by most to be taken in the 20s, which isn't bad for a kid with so little experience or national recognition. For Illini fans, he'll become the first NBA draft pick out of Illinois in seven years and the first one recruited by the departed Bruce Weber.

Yes, first round for Leonard sounds pretty good. But, if something magical were to happen for the 20-year old on June 28th, he could become a lottery pick (the first one for the Illini since Deron Willams went third in 2005).

And, that sounds even better.

Loyola basketball coach Porter Moser to be next featured guest on Inside Look

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NBC Sports Chicago

Loyola basketball coach Porter Moser to be next featured guest on Inside Look

“Inside Look presented by Cadillac,” hosted by NBC Sports Chicago’s David Kaplan & featuring Porter Moser to debut Saturday, September 15 at 6:30 PM CT

NBC Sports Chicago live stream available on NBCSportsChicago.com/WatchLive or via the NBC Sports app
 
NBCSportsChicago.com to provide additional web-exclusive coverage of ‘Inside Look,’ including extended video clips


Chicago, IL (September 11, 2018) – NBC Sports Chicago - THE home of the #AuthenticFan - continues to delve into the lives of some of the biggest names in Chicago sports with its candid, monthly, one-on-one interview series Inside Look presented by Cadillac.  

Debuting Saturday, September 15 at 6:30 PM CT (immediately following Cubs Postgame Live), NBC Sports Chicago’s David Kaplan hosts an exclusive one-on-one interview with the man who led Loyola University Chicago’s men’s basketball team to the pinnacle of NCAA greatness this past spring, Ramblers head coach PORTER MOSER.  NOTE: Live stream of this program will also be available at CSNChicago.com/WatchLive or via the NBC Sports app to authenticated NBC Sports Chicago subscribers.

Moser, who recently signed a contract extension with the Ramblers through the 2025-26 season, was born in Naperville, IL and was a standout preps star at Benet Academy in nearby Lisle, which was followed by a successful collegiate career at Creighton University, where he helped the Bluejays to an MVC Tourney Championship and an NCAA Tourney appearance in 1989.  Following a number of post-playing career assistant coaching stints, along with head coaching positions at Arkansas-Little Rock and Illinois State, Moser was named head coach at Loyola in the spring of 2011, which ushered in a new level of success not seen in Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood since 1963.

Moser’s nationally-recognized level of leadership with Loyola was officially established this past season as he led the mid-major program to a 32-6 record (15-3 in the MVC), which included winning the MVC Tournament title and automatically qualifying them for the “Big Dance.” As a #11-seed in the NCAA Tournament, Loyola’s incredible run began with upset victories over Miami-FL (#6), Tennessee (#3), Nevada (#7), along with their unforgettable win against #9 Kansas State, which sent the Ramblers to their first Final Four appearance in 55 years.  Over the past four seasons, Moser’s teams have recorded an 89-50 (.597) record and their 50 win total over the past two seasons are its most over a two-year period since posting 51 total victories during the 1962-63 & 1963-64 campaigns.

In this edition of “Inside Look,” Moser discusses everything from growing up from his early playing days in high school and college, his transition from player to coach, what the amazing run to the Final Four has meant for the university and mid-major programs in general, along with his vision for Loyola’s future, and much more.   

NBC Sports Chicago will also re-air Inside Look with Porter Moser on the following dates/times: Wed, Sept. 19 at 7:30 PM - Thu, Sept. 20 at 11:30 PM - Sat, Sept. 22 at 9:30 PM - Mon, Sept. 24 at 11:30 PM - Fri, Sept. 28 at 3:00 PM (on NBC Sports Chicago+) & Sat, Sept. 30 at 5:30 PM (Schedule subject to change). In addition, viewers are urged to check out NBCSportsChicago.com for additional interview footage of the Moser interview, along with an archive of past Inside Look guests over the years.  
 
Note the following quotes from Inside Look with Porter Moser presented by Cadillac premiering Saturday, September 15 at 6:30 PM:
 
Moser on the conversation he had with his father when he decided to become a coach:
“I said ‘Dad, I think...I know I want to coach college basketball.’ He goes, ‘How much you gonna make?’ I go, ‘Well, I’m going to volunteer my first year and bartend at night to make some extra money.’ And he said, ‘Do you love it?...is that what you’re passionate about?’ And I said ‘yes.’ And he says, ‘You gotta do it…you gotta do it.”

Moser on his team approach last season: 
"I never said during the season, ‘Hey you guys, we’re going to the Final Four.’ It was about the process. You ask any one of our guys, it was about getting better, what’s in front of us. We very rarely, pretty much hardly at all, talked about the end goal.”

Moser on the importance of making the NCAA Tournament: 
“There’s been some Loyola Rambler fans that have been sitting here 35 years...they’ve been waiting. And to share this arena with them (Loyola fans), with our families and kids, and to have your name come up on the screen. Miami, then Loyola. And to watch us all jump up, that’s an accumulation of a lot of work. And just to share it with the stage we had and the people we had, that’s what makes things special…the journey you went through and the people that went through it with you.”

Moser on accomplishing a Final Four run in his hometown: 
“I was that kid. Cubs, Bulls, Blackhawks, Bears. I even rooted the White Sox on...and to have a little part of this and to see how Chicago embraced it (Loyola’s run), that meant a lot to me.”

Moser on perseverance: 
“I’ve always said, if I had a tattoo, and I don’t, it would be an old proverb that would be: ‘Fall Seven, Rise Eight.’ And I’ve just been blessed to have people in my life that have always talked about perseverance. I keep a picture of the ‘63 national (championship) team right to my left. Every morning when I walk in to my desk, I see them holding the trophy…and I have another picture of Sheridan Road packed with fans. When things get hard, it’s such a much more rewarding path fighting through it.”

Moser on not being complacent going forward: 
“Don’t get me wrong, I want to win. I want to advance. I want to get better. I’m obsessed this offseason about getting better. I don’t want to talk about repeating. I don’t want to talk about going back to the Final Four. I want to talk about capturing our culture again.”
 

DePaul extends contract of women's basketball head coach Doug Bruno through 2023-24

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USA TODAY

DePaul extends contract of women's basketball head coach Doug Bruno through 2023-24

One of the icons of DePaul athletics is sticking around.

Monday, DePaul extended the contract of women's basketball head coach Doug Bruno through the 2023-24 season. Bruno just wrapped up his 32nd season as head coach of his alma mater, leading DePaul to its 16th consecutive NCAA Tournament.

While the Blue Demons were eliminated in the Round of 32 this March, Bruno has led the program to the Sweet 16 three of the last eight seasons.

“I am so thankful to be working at a great institution like DePaul,” Bruno said in a press release. “I never would have been here without coach Ray Meyer who gave me a basketball scholarship, Frank McGrath and Gene Sullivan who hired me in the 1970s."

Behind Bruno, DePaul went 27-8 in 2017-18, winning its fifth-straight Big East regular-season title. The Blue Demons also won their third Big East Tournament title in five years, defeating rival Marquette 98-63. Bruno also picked up his 700th career victory in February, defeating conference-foe Butler 86-68.

“I’ve been fortunate to have great assistant coaches through all the years,” he said. “My current staff is absolutely one of the best in the country.

"Most important, the reason you succeed is the players. I’ve been blessed to have tremendous student-athletes help build the DePaul women’s basketball legacy.

“I am excited about this contract extension because we still have work to do. As proud as we are of everything we have achieved, our expectation through the length of this extension is to take the Blue Demons to even higher places.”