NCAA Talk

Will Simeon's Smith be the next coach at Illinois?

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Will Simeon's Smith be the next coach at Illinois?

Bruce Weber still is the head basketball coach at the University of Illinois. But for how much longer? And if first-year athletic director Mike Thomas decides that it is time to make a change, whom will he hire as the next coach? And will he be black or white?

Would he hire Robert Smith?

Smith, 40, will have accomplished everything he set out to do at the high school level if he coaches his Simeon team to a fifth state championship in his eight-year career. No other coach in state history has won more than four state titles.

"I love Simeon," Smith said. "College would have to be the right situation. But I would consider it if it was a major Division I college.

"Illinois would be a hard job to pass up. I would definitely look into it. With the talent pool in Illinois for the next three or four years, if you could get them to stay at home, Illinois could win an NCAA title with just players from the classes of 2013, 2014 and 2015."

Other African-American coaches who could be on Thomas' list are Tommy Amaker, Johnny Dawkins, Tubby Smith, Leonard Hamilton, Maurice Cheeks, Craig Robinson, Gary Anderson, Paul Hewitt and Jeff Capel.

But can a coach persuade the state's elite players to stay at home?

In recent years, Illinois has lost Homewood-Flossmoor's Julian Wright and Crane's Sherron Collins to Kansas, Glenbrook North's Jon Scheyer to Duke, Simeon's Derrick Rose to Memphis, Morgan Park's Wayne Blackshear to Louisville, East Aurora's Ryan Boatright to Connecticut and Prospectives' Anthony Davis to Kentucky.

"I think a lot of them would love to stay home and win a national title for their home state," Smith said. "Remember what Illinois and DePaul once had, when kids stayed home? Look how exciting it was when Nick Anderson, Kenny Battle and Dee Brown stayed at home."

Smith reminds that his coach and mentor, the late Simeon coach Bob Hambric, instilled in him the idea that Chicago kids should stay at home. Hambric encouraged most of his best players, including Anderson, Deon Thomas, Ervin Small, Bryant Notree, Kevin Turner and Calvin Brock, to attend Illinois.

"I'm an Illinois guy," Smith said. "Not everyone can go to Illinois. It isn't a fit for everyone. But it can be special if the best kids stay home. I look at Illinois as a sleeping giant. It needs to be woken up. There is no reason why the program can't be as exciting as it used to be."

Is Illinois ready for a high school coach? The Illini rejected Quincy's Sherrill Hanks when he sought the basketball job. And they didn't seriously consider Evanston's Murney Lazier when he applied for the football job.

Hanks was well prepared. He did his homework. He had the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association in his corner. His staff would have included Thornridge's Ron Ferguson and Farragut's Wardell Vaughn. High school coaches throughout the state were irate that Hanks was snubbed.

But there was pressure from members of Illinois' Board of Trustees to replace ousted football coach Ron Zook with an African-American. However, Thomas chose Tim Beckman. So pressure is mounting to hire an African-American basketball coach.

Smith, a Simeon graduate, is in his eighth year as head coach at his alma mater. He is seeking his fifth state championship, the most in state history, one more than East St. Louis Lincoln's Bennie Lewis and Lawrenceville's Ron Felling.

He has coached two of the best players in state history, Rose and Jabari Parker, a 6-foot-8 junior who is being recruited by Illinois and every major Division I program. He is considered the No. 1 player in the nation regardless of class.

When Smith succeeded Hambric, he set an unprecedented goal for himself -- to win more state championships that any coach in state history.

"I wanted to put my name in the history book all by myself," he said. "Winning the state title this year is real important because of the stage we set for ourselves at the beginning of the year.

"But these kids haven't won the Public League title. They have won state twice but Jabari and Steve Taylor and Kendrick Nunn haven't won city on the varsity level since 2007, when Derrick was a senior.

"Sure, I would rather win state than city. But it's starting to bother me that we aren't accomplishing all of our goals."

In the last seven years, Smith's teams were 197-36, an .845 winning percentage.

Lewis guided East St. Louis Lincoln to state titles in 1982, 1987, 1988 and 1989. Felling's Lawrenceville teams won in 1972, 1974, 1982 and 1983. Smith won in 2006, 2007, 2010 and 2011.

"When I started, I set a goal to have the most state titles before I went on," Smith said. "I want to be the one everyone else is chasing. I started chasing Bennie Lewis."

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.”