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Transformation Tuesday: Bruce Weber

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Sometimes, leaving is for the better.

Indiana Hoosiers v Illinois Fighting Illini Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

“The decision has been made to move in another direction,” Mike Thomas said on March 9, 2012 during his press conference announcing that Bruce Weber would not return for a tenth season at the University of Illinois. Since then, both Illinois and Weber have gone their own ways, in two quite different directions. And while we’ve covered the path of the Illini since, we haven’t talked much about Weber and his happenings since, Jarling’s aside. Let’s take a look at what he’s been up to.

Weber would be hired by the Kansas State Wildcats within a month of leaving Illinois, replacing Frank Martin who left for a position at South Carolina. While some Kansas State fans were dubious of the hire, his results there have been quite impressive over the six seasons he has been there.

In Weber’s first season with Kansas State, the Wildcats went 27-8, at one point being the ninth-ranked team in the nation before ending the regular season as the No. 11 team, and earning a four-seed in the NCAA tournament, where they were upset by La Salle in the first round. Weber would make the tournament twice in a row to start his career at K-State, though his team only briefly held a Top 25 ranking, and lost in an 8-9 seed matchup against Kentucky.

Weber’s third and fourth seasons at K-State would be the worst during his tenure, raising questions about his ability to perform with his own talent as opposed to recruits of previous coaches, an issue seen at Illinois following his first few seasons. In both years, the Wildcats failed to qualify for the postseason, going 15-17 and 17-16 respectively.

In Weber’s fifth season at the helm, the team would go 21-14, picking up another NCAA tournament but failing to make much noise as an 11-seed, being beat by Cincinnati in the round of 64 after winning a first round “play-in” game over Wake Forest. Following the season, Weber would sign a contract with the school, making him their coach through the 2021 season.

Correction: A previous version of this article stated that Kansas State lost to West Virginia in the NCAA Tournament in 2017. The loss to West Virginia was in the Big 12 Tournament. We apologize for the error.

Last season, Kansas State finally broke out due to a combination of good play and good luck. Going into the tournament with a 22-11 record as a 9-seed, the Wildcats snubbed the Cinderella story of 16-seed UMBC (who had defeated the top-overall team Virginia in the first round) before having their own ripped apart by the Loyola-Chicago Ramblers/Sister Jeans in the Elite Eight, thus ending the chances of my bracket, Bruce Weber Fan Club, predicting the national champion and winning the TCR Pool.

Since being hired by Kansas State, Weber has gone 125-80 overall and 55-53 in the Big 12 over the course of six seasons. Following his team’s impressive run in the tournament last season, Weber had his contract extended another two seasons, guaranteeing him for five more seasons through 2023.

Though most of his teams haven’t exceeded expectations and he has his critics there, it does seem like Kansas State should continue to be consistently successful, as Weber has brought in strong classes, including players such as JUCO transfer Austin Trice, who Illinois had also been pursuing. I doubt that they’ll set as many brackets on fire next year, but they should be a solid team once again, and I would expect to see them make the NCAA tournament for the third straight year, and for the fifth time in seven years. While I’ll spend most of my energy on supporting the Illini, I’ll be cheering for Bruce and the Wildcats in the background.