Building A Champion: The Coaching Staff

Southern Illinois v Connecticut
The SIU men's basketball team has been blessed with a bevy of talented coaches, especially in recent years.

The Floorburn U Salukis that dominated the Valley for a good part of this decade started with Bruce Weber, who was hired in 1998 to replace Rich Herrin.

Weber, a disciple of the Gene Keady school of basketball, instilled a hard-nosed man-to-man defense along with the motion offense.

Coach Bruce suffered through some tough times in Carbondale, as he was not the people's choice to replace Herrin as Saluki Nation couldn't comprehend him being "one of us."

It didn't matter to Weber, who posted a 103-54 record in his time at SIU.

And since he deserves most of the credit for rebuilding the once-proud basketball program, he will be the team's head coach.

Times were thin for the Saluki head coach, who used his secretary's nice car to pick up recruits because he drove a beater.

Kinda sounds like what I'm going through in the dating scene. It's hard to pick up the honeys when you're driving a '72 Nova.

Still, he was able to bring in talented players, underachievers and guys who flew under the radar to build a champion.

As for his assistants, well, they're awfully knowledgeable when it comes to the game of basketball.

His top assistant will be Matt Painter, the man who followed him at SIU. Painter posted a 25-5 record in the 2003-04 season and only lost one game in the Missouri Valley Conference that season before skipping town to coach his alma mater, Purdue.

Chris Lowery will be the Weber's No. 2 man and his defensive coordinator. Lowery amplified Keady's system by heightening the intensity of the man-to-man defense and will forever be remembered as the coach who coined "Floorburn U." I hope he's getting money off that -- not that his $750,000 salary isn't more than enough.

The team's third assistant, and offensive coordinator by default will be Rich Herrin. Oh what a tangled web we weave here at The Big Dead Sidebar as I've just hired the last four coaches in the Salukis' history.

Herrin's philosphy was simple. Score. Score a lot. Lowery, who played under Herrin, often tells tales of Herrin's "if you don't score, you don't play" days ... and does a killer impression of his former head coach.

With Weber, Painter, Lowery and Herrin on the bench (and probably long-time assistant Rodney Watson) SIU would have an excellent X's and O's coach assited by offensive and defensive masterminds up-and-down the bench.

This coaching staff alone would win Southern a much-coveted Missouri Valley Conference Tournament title.