SE: Lowery, Brooks Thrilled To Be With Weber

Former SIU head coach Chris Lowery was the first assistant coach hired by Bruce Weber.

May 5, 2012

This feature appeared in Saturday's K-State Sports Extra

By Mark Janssen

Alvin Brooks III says the opportunity to join Bruce Weber's coaching staff at Kansas State was as easy as saying, "Yes sir, I'll be there."
"He's a really good person, and that's important in this business," said Brooks, whose coaching resume includes eight total seasons at Arkansas-Fort Smith and Midland community colleges, plus stints as an assistant at Bradley and Sam Houston State. "First, you want to work for good people, plus he's a really, really good coach. All you have to do is look at his record to understand that."
As an assistant coach at Bradley is where Brooks first became associated with Weber, and Chris Lowery, who was the first assistant coach to join Weber's staff.
Lowery first met Weber when he was a high schooler in Evansville, Ind., where Weber recruited Calbert Cheaney, the 1993 college player of the year, and Walter McCarty, who later was a part of a national title winning team at Kentucky.
Later, Weber hired Lowery as an assistant at Southern Illinois, where he also gave him a glowing recommendation to be the head coach for the Salukis.
"Coach Weber has been a positive influence in my life," said Lowery. "He could have treated me just like some assistant, but from the beginning it was always much more than that. You may see us argue because he wants ideas from the outside ... he wants you to have a creative mind. From the beginning when you're a young coach thinking you have all the answers, he had the ability to correct you, but not crush your ego."
For certain, when each current assistant fielded the call from Kansas State's new head basketball coach, the question from the new Wildcat boss was easy to answer.
"We normally talked every night between one and two in the morning, but then he calls from the Final Four and said, `I got the job at K-State. Are you coming?'," Lowery reflected. "I said, `Yeah but...' and he hung up the phone because he had to get on the plane.
"He didn't call back to the next day and I got to wondering if he was really serious," said Lowery.
While Lowery's answer was always going to be yes, he said, "I had questions for him. I wondered how it all went down? When did it happen? How did it happen?"

The 32-year-old Brooks has just finished his second year at Sam Houston State of the Southland Conference.

Visiting the K-State campus the last week in April, Weber offered Brooks a position that created what he called a "Dad moment" for his father, Alvin Brooks II, the associate head coach at the University of Houston.

"He was shocked, but I think very proud," said Brooks of his father, a veteran of 30 years of collegiate coaching. "The biggest thing he told me was that it was still basketball, but just at a higher level. He told me that I had prepared for the moment, now take advantage of it."

While Brooks is new to Weber, the Lowery relationship with Weber is one of closest friends. This will be the third time the two have worked together with the others being at Southern Illinois as Weber's assistant for two seasons, plus one year at Illinois. During that three-year period, the duo helped the Salukis and Fighting Illini to a combined 78-22 (.780) overall record, including a 43-9 (.827) mark in conference play, with three trips to the NCAA Tournament, including Sweet 16 appearances in 2002 and 2004.

As an eight-year head coach of the Salukis, the 39-year-old Lowery posted a 145-116 (.556) overall record with four postseason appearances, two Missouri Valley Conference Championships and one State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Tournament title.
Separated from Weber the last eight years, Lowery said, "Our families have gone on vacations together for each of the last eight years. I'm not sure that can happen now that I'm working for him again, but we have always been very, very close. Our wives didn't allow us to talk basketball on those trips, but we would sneak off and talk basketball."
With both coaches fired from their respective schools in mid-March, Lowery said, "This was a time when he felt he needed me, and I certainly needed him. It's worked out perfectly."

What the entire coaching staff now needs is for the returning Kansas State players to buy in to the Weber coaching philosophy of motion basketball.

"I've seen them on TV and in one workout when I was in town to interview," said Brooks. "They're big and I know they play hard. That's the key to winning championships."

Lowry did join Weber in April workouts and said his first impression of the group was their toughness.
"That's a dying art in today's game," said Lowery. "Kids like to come in overly skilled, but then they get away from the glue stuff that keeps you together and helps you win games. These kids seem to be into all the little stuff that doesn't get written up in the paper. This group seems to have some substance.
"Now we just want to continue to develop them and help them become better players at the offensive end," added Lowery.