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."

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.”

 

Loyola rewards Porter Moser with multi-year contract extension

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USA TODAY

Loyola rewards Porter Moser with multi-year contract extension

Loyola is rewarding Porter Moser for his basketball team's success this season.

Loyola and Moser have agreed to a multi-year contract extension, the team announced Wednesday. The deal is through the 2025-26 season.

"We are excited to be able to announce a new contract for Porter that will keep him at Loyola a long time," Loyola Director of Athletics Steve Watson said. "He is the perfect fit for Loyola and operates his program the right way, with student-athletes who achieve excellence on the court and in the classroom and are also excellent representatives of the institution.

"We are fortunate to work at a university like Loyola, that values and has made a commitment to athletics. It is nice to reward Porter not just for an outstanding season, but also for the job he has done during his time here."

That's a well-deserved extension for a head coach who led the Ramblers to a NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1985.

As the 11th seed, Loyola exceeded all expectations, shocking the world with a Final Four appearance. The Ramblers took down No. 6 Miami, No. 3 Tennessee, No. 7 Nevada, and No. 9 Kansas State before losing to No. 3 Michigan, who would go on to lose to No. 1 Villanova in the championship game.

Loyola finished the regular season with a 28-5 record and a MVC Championship.

In seven seasons, Moser has a 121-111 record with the Ramblers, though three of his last four have been winning seasons.