Fresh off of directing Kansas State to its first conference title in more than 36 years, reigning Big 12 Coach of the Year Bruce Weber enters his third season at the helm of Wildcat program and 17th season overall as a head coach, which includes stints at both Southern Illinois (1998-2003) and Illinois (2003-12).
One of the winningest active Division I coaches with over 300 career wins and nine NCAA Tournament appearances to his credit, he was named the 24th men's basketball coach in school history on March 31, 2012 by athletics director John Currie. A longtime assistant coach to 1958 K-State alumnus Gene Keady at first, Western Kentucky (1979-80), then Purdue (1981-98) before successful head coaching stints at Southern Illinois and Illinois, he has been apart of more than 700 wins and 29 postseason appearances in his 34-year coaching career, which includes 24 trips to the NCAA Tournament.
Weber guided K-State to one of its best seasons ever in 2012-13, as the Wildcats posted a 27-8 overall record and captured a share of their first conference title since 1977 with a 14-4 Big 12 mark. He became just the third first-year head coach to win the Big 12 regular season since the league's inception in 1997, while his 27 wins were the third-most by a rookie head coach in conference history. The team advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the 27th time, including a school-record tying fourth consecutive season, and received its third-highest seed - No. 4 in the West Regional - since the NCAA began seeding teams in 1979.
Weber's 27 wins in 2012-13 were the second-most in a single season in school history and just the fifth 25-win season overall, while the 14 conference wins tied the 1958-59 team for the most in school history. The league title was the 20th overall and the 18th won in the regular season and the first by the school since winning the Big Eight Championship in 1977. The Wildcats were ranked for 13 consecutive weeks to end the season, including two weeks in the Top 10.
For his efforts, Weber was selected as the 2013 Big 12 Conference Coach of the Year by the league coaches and The Associated Press, while he was named the U.S. Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) and National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) District Coach of the Year. It was his third league Coach of the Year accolade in his career after winning the honor in the Missouri Valley in 2002-03 and the Big Ten in 2004-05. He was also a finalist for the 2013 Jim Phelan National Coach of the Year and Skip Prosser Man of the Year awards.
Weber agreed to an original 5-year contract, but it was extended an extra year on April 10, 2013, and now runs through the 2017-18 season. He will be paid $1.75 million in 2013-14 and will receive a $100,000 base salary increase each year remaining on the contract ($1.85 million in 2014-15, $1.95 million in 2015-16, $2.05 million in 2016-17 and $2.15 million in 2017-18). The extension was unanimously approved by the K-State Athletics, Inc., Board of Directors.
"My family and I couldn't be more thrilled with our decision to come to K-State," said Weber upon his contract extension. "It was a magical year in our athletic department that started with the success of our football team under Coach Snyder's leadership and our team was able to seize that momentum and win our first conference title in nearly four decades. Whenever you have success, it is a direct reflection of your team and staff and I have said all along we had great chemistry between our players and staff all year. I'm so proud to be associated with this group of players and coaches and I can't thank them enough for their hard work and sacrifice this season."
K-State led the Big 12 in five statistical categories in 2012-13, including scoring defense (60.4 ppg.), turnover margin (+2.6), assist-to-turnover ratio (1.4) and offensive rebounds (13.4), while the squad ranked among the Top 5 in assists (15.9, 2nd), 3-point field goals (6.8, 3rd), 3-point field goal percentage (36.2, 3rd), rebounding margin (+3.3, 3rd) and steals (7.1, 4th). In addition, the team paced the league in field goal percentage (45.7), assists (16.9), turnover margin (+2.7) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.6) in conference-only games, while they were second in 3-point field goals made (7.8) and 3-point field goal percentage (38.9). The Wildcats tied or set three single-season records in 2012-13, including wins in Bramlage Coliseum (16), assists (557) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.4), and drew the second-most fans to its home schedule with 225,503 filtering through the turnstiles at Bramlage Coliseum and the Sprint Center.
Under Weber's direction, three players - Rodney McGruder (first team), Angel Rodriguez (second team) and Shane Southwell (honorable mention) - earned recognition to the 2013 Coaches' All-Big 12 Team. It marked just the third time in school history that three Wildcats appeared on an all-conference team in the same year, while McGruder became just the third Wildcat in the Big 12 era to earn first team all-league accolades. An honorable mention All-American by The Associated Press, McGruder ranked among the Top 10 in four statistical categories in the Big 12, including fourth in scoring (15.6 ppg.), while he became just the second player in school history to finish among the career Top 10 in both scoring and rebounding. A member of the Big 12 All-Defensive Team, Rodriguez tallied the second-most assists (173) in a single season in school history, while he recorded the fifth-best assist-to-turnover (2.22) ratio. He ranked among the Big 12's Top 5 in assist-to-turnover ratio (second), assists (third), free throw percentage (third) and steals (fourth).
The Wildcats also excelled off the basketball court under Weber's leadership, as a program-best 11 players, including starters McGruder, Rodriguez and Jordan Henriquez as well as reserves Thomas Gipson and Nino Williams, were named to the Spring 2013 Big 12 Commissioner's Academic Honor Roll after eight were selected to the Fall list. In addition, McGruder (first team) and Spradling (second team) were selected to the Academic All-Big 12 Team. McGruder was the lone Big 12 men's basketball player to earn both All-Big 12 First Team honors for his efforts on the court and in the classroom. All three seniors - Henriquez, Martavious Irving and McGruder - the winningest class in school history - along with rising senior Omari Lawrence earned their degrees from K-State this past May.
The success enjoyed at K-State in 2012-13 was nothing new for Weber, who has compiled a 340-163 (.676) in his 15 seasons as a head coach, which includes stints at Southern Illinois and Illinois. His .676 winning percentage ranks 25th among active Division I head coaches, including fourth among head coaches in the Big 12, while his 340 wins are the 11th-most by a head coach in his first 15 seasons in NCAA history. His teams have participated in postseason play in 11 of 15 seasons, including nine NCAA Tournament appearances. He has won 11 NCAA Tournament games, including trips to the Sweet 16 in 2002, 2004 and 2005, while his 2004-05 Illinois squad played North Carolina for the NCAA title.
Weber's teams have won a combined six conference regular season and tournament championships, including the 2002 and 2003 Missouri Valley, 2004 and 2005 Big Ten and 2013 Big 12 Conference regular season titles. He has won 20 or more games in all but four of his 15 campaigns, including an Illinois school-record 37 wins in 2004-05, and he has averaged 22.7 victories a season in his head coaching career.
Weber has won numerous Coach of the Year honors in his career, including consensus National Coach of the Year accolades in 2005 en route to guiding Illinois to the National Championship game. Among the National Coach of the Year awards earned by Weber in 2005 were the Naismith Award, The Associated Press, Adolph F. Rupp Cup, U.S. Basketball Writers Association's Henry Iba Award, National Association of Basketball Coaches, Chevrolet/CBS, The Sporting News and Basketball Times. He was also selected as the 2003 Missouri Valley Conference, 2005 Big Ten Conference and 2013 Big 12 Conference Coach of the Year.
"Our men's basketball program, from top to bottom, has made continued improvement under Coach Weber and his staff since their arrival last April," said Currie upon announcing Weber's one-year contract extension. "From our first conference championship in 36 seasons to a record-number of players on the Big 12 Commissioner's Academic Honor Roll, I am extremely excited about the forward trajectory of our program under his leadership."
In all, Weber has 33 years of college coaching experience, which includes 19 seasons as an assistant coach for 2013 College Basketball Hall of Fame inductee Gene Keady, a native of Garden City, Kan., and 1958 K-State graduate. Weber spent his entire assistant coaching career with Keady, first at Western Kentucky (1979-80) and then Purdue (1981-98). The coaching duo helped the Hilltoppers to the Ohio Valley Conference regular season and tournament titles and a trip to NCAA Tournament in 1980 before moving to West Lafayette and the Purdue Boilermakers the following season.
In Weber's 18 years at Purdue, the Boilermakers won six Big Ten titles, played in 14 NCAA Tournaments and made three NIT appearances. All told, Weber has been a part of more than 700 victories, 24 NCAA Tournament appearances and 12 conference championships in his coaching career, which has included stops at Western Kentucky, Purdue, SIU, Illinois and now, K-State.
"Bruce Weber, in my opinion, is one of the Top 5 coaches in the nation," said Keady, currently a special assistant to St. John's head coach Steve Lavin. "I am so happy for Bruce and his family, and I feel proud and lucky as a K-State alum to have him as the coach of my alma mater."
The Illinois Years (2003-12) Weber arrived at K-State after a nine-year stint (2004-12) as the head coach at Illinois, where he posted a 210-101 (.675) overall record with six NCAA Tournament appearances, two Big Ten Championships (2004, 2005) and one Big Ten Tournament title (2005). He also had two runner-up finishes (2006, 2009) and seven upper-division finishes in his tenure. Through his nine years at the helm of the Fighting Illini program, Illinois was the 15th winningest program in the nation. Seven times in his tenure his teams reached the coveted 20-win mark, including a school-record 37 wins in 2004-05 en route to the NCAA Championship game.
Weber's 210 wins rank third in school history behind Lou Henson (423; 1976-96) and Harry Combes (316; 1948-67), while his nine-year stint was the longest since Henson retired in 1996 and represents the fifth-longest in school history. In addition, his win total is the second-most in Big Ten history by a coach after his first nine years, while his .675 winning percentage ranks as the seventh-highest of any head coach in Big Ten history who coached at least nine seasons in the conference. His winning percentage is higher than mentor Gene Keady (.611) as well as other Big Ten icons Branch McCracken (Indiana), Tom Davis (Iowa), Lou Henson (Illinois), Johnny Orr (Michigan) and Jud Heathcote (Michigan State). In addition, his 89 Big Ten wins rank 26th all-time in the league's history.
Weber had five players taken in the NBA Draft during his stint at Illinois, as Deron Williams (No. 3, Utah Jazz) and Luther Head (No. 24, Houston Rockets) were taken in the first round of the 2005 Draft, James Augustine (No. 41, Orlando Magic) and Dee Brown (No. 46, Utah Jazz) were chosen in the second round of the 2006 Draft and Meyers Leonard (No. 11, Portland Trail Blazers) was selected in the first round of the 2012 Draft. The selection of Williams at No. 3 overall in the 2005 lottery made him the highest-drafted players in Illinois history. A current Brooklyn Net and three-time NBA All-Star (2010, 2011, 2012), Williams helped Team USA win gold at the 2012 London Olympic Games for the second consecutive Games.
Weber coached five All-Americans at Illinois, including three during the run to the 2005 Final Four, while Brown became the first Fighting Illini player in more than 50 years to earn consensus first team All-American status. Brown was also selected as The Sporting News National Player of the Year in 2005 to go along with Big Ten Player and Defensive Player of the Year honors. Weber also coached three consensus second team All-Americans in Head (2005), Williams (2005) and Brown (2006). In addition, Brown earned the Bob Cousy Award, as the nation's top point guard, and the Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award, as the nation's top player as a senior in 2006.
In total, Weber coached 27 All-Big Ten selections, including seven first team honorees, during his time at Illinois to go with one Big Ten Player of the Year, one Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and one Big Ten Freshman of the Year (D.J. Richardson, 2010). He also helped coach three to both the Big Ten All-Freshman and All-Defensive Teams, including two-time selection and current assistant coach Chester Frazier. In addition, 20 players earned recognition to the Academic All-Big Ten team during Weber's tenure.
Hired as the 16th head coach in Illinois history on April 30, 2003, Weber saw immediate success in his first season in Champaign, as he led the Fighting Illini to 26-7 record and the school's first outright Big Ten title in 52 years with a 13-3 league mark. He became just the third coach in Big Ten history to win a conference title in his first year. The squad won 10 in a row to end the regular season, including six straight road wins, to clinch the title. Armed with a balanced team with four players in double figures, Illinois knocked off Murray State and Cincinnati in the NCAA Atlanta First/Second Rounds in Columbus, Ohio before losing to top-seed Duke at the Georgia Dome.
The following year, Weber guided the team to 29 consecutive victories to open the 2004-05 campaign. It marked the best start in school history and 12th-best start in NCAA Division I history. During the 100th season of Illinois basketball, Weber would take the Fighting Illini all the way to the NCAA Championship game. Illinois closed the year with a 37-2 record (tying the then-NCAA record for wins in a season), claiming both the Big Ten regular season and tournament titles. His team won the Big Ten regular-season title with a 15-1 record, becoming the first coach in Big Ten history to win outright conference titles in his first two years. The Fighting Illini were ranked No. 1 in the nation for 15 consecutive weeks, including a first-ever No. 1 ranking in the final The Associated Press poll.
Weber's Illinois squad defeated Fairleigh Dickinson and Nevada in the NCAA Chicago First/Second Round in Indianapolis, Ind., before dispatching of Milwaukee and Arizona in overtime in Rosemont, Ill., to earn the school's first Final Four in 16 years. Led by National Player of the Year and consensus All-American Dee Brown as well as All-Americans Luther Head and Deron Williams, the Fighting Illini knocked off fourth-ranked Louisville, 72-57, in the first national semifinal to reach the championship game for the first time in school history. In a battle of the nation's two best teams, No. 2 North Carolina used a late rally to earn a 75-70 win and deny top-ranked Illinois its first NCAA title. Head and Williams were named to the NCAA Final Four All-Tournament team.
Despite losing three starters and 63 percent of its scoring from the NCAA runner-up team, Weber helped the Fighting Illini to a third consecutive 25-win season, a runner-up finish in the Big Ten and the second round of the NCAA Tournament in 2005-06. The team spent the majority of the season in the Top 10 and recorded 26 wins to tie for the fourth-winningest season in school history. Illinois defeated Fairleigh Dickinson before losing to No. 17 Nevada in the second round of the NCAA Washington, D.C. Regional in San Diego.
With a depleted roster that had six different players combine to miss a total of 58 games due to injury during the 2006-07 season, Illinois still advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the fourth consecutive season under Weber en route to its fourth straight 20-win season at 23-12 overall and a tie for fourth place in the Big Ten with a 9-7 record. Three players were named to the All-Big Ten team.
Weber suffered his first and only losing season as a head coach in 2007-08, as the Fighting Illini fell to a 16-19 record and a tie for ninth in the Big Ten. After losing eight games by less than seven points at one point in the season, the squad came on strong to win four of its last five and five of its final seven games, culminating with a runner-up finish at the Big Ten Tournament. Weber's squad became the first No. 10 seed in the tournament's history to advance to the title game, winning three games in three days over Penn State, No. 17 Purdue and Minnesota to reach the championship game vs. No. 8 Wisconsin.
Weber's 2008-09 squad was one of the most improved teams in the country, as the Fighting Illini posted a 24-10 record, including a tie for second place in the Big Ten with an 11-7 mark, and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the fifth time in six seasons. With 10 more regular season victories than it achieved the year before, Illinois tallied the third-biggest turnaround in NCAA Division I and the second-largest turnaround among BCS programs on the year. The team earned a No. 5 seed in the NCAA West Regional in Portland, Ore., where they lost to upstart Western Kentucky before finishing the year ranked 24th in the Pomeroy rankings.
Weber's seventh Illini squad in 2009-10 tallied 21 victories - including six wins over Top 25 opponents - a fifth-place finish in the Big Ten with a 10-8 mark and a trip to the quarterfinals of the NIT. Led by junior Demetri McCamey and Big Ten Freshman of the Year D.J. Richardson, the team knocked off No. 5 Michigan State and No. 11 Wisconsin in back-to-back games during the regular season before earning the team's sixth postseason appearances in seven years under Weber and the first in the NIT.
Weber recorded his seventh 20-win season at Illinois in 2010-11 with a 20-14 record, as the squad spent more than of the season in the Top 25 and finished a tie for fourth place in a competitive Big Ten race that resulted in the conference having a then record-tying seven teams in the NCAA Tournament. With its NCAA second-round victory over UNLV, Illinois defeated a higher-seeded team for the second time in school history and recorded its first tournament win since 2006 before falling to top-seed Kansas in the second round. The team finished the year ranked 18th in the Ken Pomeroy's rankings and 25th in Jeff Sagarin's ratings.
A team loaded with six freshmen, Weber guided the Fighting Illini to a 17-15 overall record in 2011-12, including a tie for ninth in the Big Ten with a 6-12 mark. The squad jumped out to a 15-3 record, which included wins over NCAA Tournament teams Gonzaga, St. Bonaventure, UNLV and No. 5 Ohio State, before the youthful Illini dropped 12 of their last 14 games. Two players were named to the All-Big Ten team, including sophomore Meyers Leonard, who opted to forgo his final two college seasons for the NBA Draft and was selected with the No. 11 pick by the Portland Trail Blazers.
Weber has earned a solid reputation as a coach who stresses player development and fosters an unselfish brand of basketball where the most important facet is chemistry. His teams strive for up-tempo motion offense to go with hard-nosed man-to-man defense.
Offensively, Weber's teams have proven to be efficient with the ball in averaging 70 or more points in five of his nine seasons with Illinois, while leading the Big Ten in scoring in 2004 (72.8 ppg.) and ranking second in 2005. (77.0 ppg.). His teams at Southern Illinois also scored the ball well with averages of 75.5 (2002) and 74.5 (2003) points per game in his final two seasons. In 2009, Weber's Illini led the nation in assist rate with an impressive 69.3 percent of Illinois' baskets scored off of an assist, while the squad led the Big Ten and ranked seventh nationally with 17.5 assists per game average. In 2012-13, K-State ranked among the Top 20 nationally in assists (16th, 15.9 apg.) and assist-to-turnover ratio (11th, 1.38), while setting school records in both categories.
A trademark of Weber-led teams are its fundamentally sound defense, holding opponents to less than 43 percent shooting each of the last 12 seasons, including a K-State squad which held foes to 41.8 percent from the field in 2012-13. The Wildcats, who led the Big 12 in scoring defense and ranked 36th nationally, posted the lowest opponent scoring average (60.4 ppg.) since 1982-83 and ninth-lowest in school history. It marked the fourth time since 2006 that a Weber-coached squad paced a league in scoring defense and ranked among the Top 20 nationally in the category, including third in 2009 (57.2 ppg.) and fourth (57.1 ppg.) in 2007.
Southern Illinois Years (1998-2003) Prior to his time at Illinois, Weber spent five seasons at Southern Illinois, where he led the Salukis to the top of the Missouri Valley, including league titles in 2002 and 2003, while collecting a 103-54 (.656) record from 1998 to 2003. His teams were a combined 52-15 (.776) those last two seasons, including consecutive MVC regular-season titles and NCAA Tournament appearances. His 2001-02 squad collected 28 wins, including 14 in league play, and made a run to the Sweet 16 with wins over Texas Tech and Georgia. He once again led the Salukis to the NCAA Tournament in 2002-03, where his team tallied 24 wins, including an impressive 16-2 mark in MVC play, before losing in the first round to No. 23 Missouri. Named head coach in April 1998, Weber led the Salukis to its first winning season in four years with a 15-12 record in 1998-99, including a tie for fifth-place in the Missouri Valley. He followed with the school's first 20-win season since 1994-95 in year two, which included a trip to the 2000 NIT. He led SIU to its first postseason victory since 1990-91 with a 94-92 win at Colorado in the first round before losing at BYU in the second round.
Western Kentucky and Purdue Years (1980-98) Weber has a long association with Gene Keady for whom he spent 19 years an assistant coach, first at Western Kentucky (1979-80) and then at Purdue (1980-98). After helping the Hilltoppers to a 21-8 overall record, an Ohio Valley Conference title and a trip to the NCAA Tournament in 1979-80, Weber followed Keady to West Lafayette, Ind., where for the next 18 seasons, he helped build the Boilermaker program into one of the best in the nation. During his stint, Purdue advanced to the postseason play 17 times, including 14 trips to the NCAA Tournament and three appearances in the NIT. The squad averaged nearly 22 wins with Keady-Weber at the controls, including six Big Ten titles, and a 394-168 (.701) overall record.
USA Basketball Experience Weber is also actively involved in USA Basketball, where he serves on the Men's Junior National Committee with Syracuse's Jim Boeheim, North Carolina's Roy Williams and Washington's Lorenzo Romar, which selects coaches and athletes for USA Basketball college-aged competitions, including the World University Games, FIBA U19 World Championships, FIBA Americas U18 Championships and Pan American Games. He also served as an assistant coach for the USA Team at the World University Games in 1989 and head court coach for the Pan American team trials in 1991. Weber assisted Gene Keady in preparation for the Jones Cup, World University Game and Pan American Games while an assistant at Purdue.
Coaches vs. Cancer Weber is involved in a number of charities, most notably Coaches vs. Cancer. He has been one of the nation's most active coaches in the program, currently serving on the organization's Council, and was the recipient of the 2007 Coaches vs. Cancer Champion Award.
Personal Weber, 57, began his coaching career in his hometown of Milwaukee, where he started as a volunteer assistant at Madison (Wis.) High School before becoming a varsity assistant at Marquette University (Wis.) High School. Weber earned his bachelor's degree in education from Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 1978 and a master's degree in education adminstration and physical education from Western Kentucky in 1981. He and his wife, Megan, of 33 years, have three daughters: Hannah, Christy and Emily.