Painter: Weber's firing 'unfortunate'
CHICAGO – Purdue coach Matt Painter said Wednesday he was disappointed Illinois didn’t give former Illini coach Bruce Weber more support, but he believed they had a made a smart choice with their new coach John Groce.
Weber was a Purdue assistant coach when Painter played for the Boilermakers, and Weber later hired Painter as an assistant at Southern Illinois. Painter succeeded Weber as head coach at Southern Illinois.
Weber was fired in March after nine seasons at Illinois and was hired to be Kansas State’s head coach in April. Groce, who was previously at Ohio, was hired to replace Weber at Illinois.
“(Weber’s) meant everything to me,” said Painter after throwing out a ceremonial first pitch at the Chicago White Sox’s game on Wednesday. “He gave me a chance as a player. He gave me a chance as a coach. He’s been there for me.
“It was unfortunate (at Illinois.) You get in that situation in the middle of the season and you want support. You want people to support you. I’ve been in there where you’ve gotten support in tough times. He didn’t feel he got that. We didn’t feel he got that. He stayed the course and kept plugging.”
Despite Weber’s firing, Painter thought Weber landed in a better situation.
“He fell upstairs in my opinion,” Painter said. “He’s now in a place that wants him. He’s at Kansas State, which is a great school. It’s just too bad it didn’t work because I think he’s a special person and a great coach.”
Painter did believe made a wise decision in hiring Groce. Painter thought Groce’s NCAA tournament experience as a head coach at Ohio and his time at Ohio State had him prepared for the Big Ten.
“He’s been through it,” Painter said of Groce. “He was an assistant at Ohio State. They all but won it all when he was there. He’s been there and done that. He knows what he’s getting into. He knows how tough it is.
“What he did at Ohio going to the tournament two different times and winning games at the tournament that speaks for itself. That’s a hard thing to do when you’re in a league that is always going to have one or two teams getting into the tournament. He had a lot of success there. He’s proven himself. He’s been in the league. … He’s going to embrace the opportunity and challenge. They’re going to be a tough out. Illinois is always going to have guys.”
TOP 25 SCOREBOARD
Final Washington State 45 Colorado State 48 Final 20 Fresno State 20 25 USC 45 Final Buffalo 24 San Diego State 49 Final Tulane 21 Louisiana-Lafayette 24
Final Pittsburgh 30 Bowling Green 27 Final Utah State 21 23 Northern Illinois 14
Final Marshall 31 Maryland 20 Final Syracuse 21 Minnesota 17 Final Brigham Young 16 Washington 31
Final Rutgers 16 Notre Dame 29 Final Cincinnati 17 North Carolina 39 Final Miami (FL) 9 18 Louisville 36 Final Michigan 14 Kansas State 31
Final Middle Tennessee 6 Navy 24 Final Ole Miss 25 Georgia Tech 17 Final 10 Oregon 30 Texas 7 Final 14 Arizona State 23 Texas Tech 37
Final Arizona 42 Boston College 19 Final Virginia Tech 12 17 UCLA 42 Final Rice 7 Mississippi State 44 Final 24 Duke 48 21 Texas A&M 52
Final Nebraska 24 22 Georgia 19 Final UNLV 14 North Texas 36 Final Iowa 14 16 LSU 21 Final 19 Wisconsin 24 9 South Carolina 34 Final 5 Stanford 20 4 Michigan State 24 Final 15 UCF 52 6 Baylor 42
Final 13 Oklahoma State 31 8 Missouri 41 Final 12 Clemson 40 7 Ohio State 35