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Friday, February 17, 2012
Howard: Don't forget Weber's achievements

By Scott Powers

Jerrance Howard
Jerrance Howard believes some critics overlook Bruce Weber's impressive achievements.
Illinois assistant coach Jerrance Howard spoke up Friday and defended coach Bruce Weber amidst growing criticisms of Weber and the program.

"One of things I was thinking about the other day walking in the gym was the new tradition of honoring some of the best coaches Illinois has had, and coach [Weber] is going to be there with that group," said Howard, who played one season for Weber and has been his assistant since 2008. "I don't want people to forget about what's done. He's the only Illinois coach in 60 years to win two outright Big Ten championships. He's the only Illinois coach in 100 years of basketball to go to the national championship game.

"Look at our APR. We graduate our players. That's what it's all about at the end of the day. Him as a human being, he's represented this university and this program. He's run a clean program. He's the face of Coaches vs. Cancer. He's an all-around good person and great coach. People forget about that."

Howard also thought Weber hasn't exactly had luck go his way in recent years with Jamar Smith being dismissed from the team, Eric Gordon de-committing from Illinois to attend Indiana and McDonald's All-American Jereme Richmond spending only one season at Illinois.

"Look at what's happened with losing Jamar Smith, not having Eric Gordon, not having Jereme come back this year, but we stayed competitive," Howard said. "Nobody has laid down. He's one of the best coaches in the business."

Howard also felt Weber allowed his emotions to carry him too far during Wednesday's postgame press conference. Weber blamed himself after losing to Purdue, which was Illinois' fourth straight loss. He said he's been coaching not to lose and openly criticized his players.

"This is something I tell everybody about coach – he's honest, he's genuine, he's as good as a person as I know," Howard said. "He has feelings. He let the feelings get the best of him. It was Coach. He was speaking from the heart.

"People forget at times this coaching business it's hard. It's your family. You want to protect it at times. I think people spun it and took it the wrong way."

Since Wednesday, Howard said he's seen Weber revitalized and ready to make one final push at the end of the season.

"He's worked hard," Howard said. "He's one of the hardest workers in the business. That's my thing about him."