Weber Named Phelan Award Finalist
March 3, 2009
Champaign, Ill. - Illinois head coach Bruce Weber has been named one of 10 finalists for the 2009 Jim Phelan National Coach of the Year award. Weber has earned recognition for directing one of the nation's most improved teams in college basketball this season, as well as one of the biggest turnarounds in school and Big Ten history.
Illinois is currently 23-7 overall, 11-6 in the Big Ten and ranked No. 23 in both national polls. The Illini have improved 10 games on last year's regular season win total, which is the third-biggest turnaround in NCAA Div. I and the second-biggest turnaround among BCS programs this season. Illinois has improved six games on last year's win total in Big Ten play, which is the second-biggest turnaround in school history. Picked to finish between fifth and seventh in the Big Ten preseason polls, Illinois is within one-half game of second place. The Illini currently stand in third place after finishing ninth last season, with the six-place jump in the conference standings also ranking as the second-biggest turnaround in school history.
Weber has the highest winning percentage (.737) of any coach in Big Ten history who has coached at least six seasons in the conference. He has won 151 games in his six seasons in Champaign-Urbana, ranking third on Illinois' all-time wins list. With 254 victories overall, Weber has the 10th-most wins in NCAA history by a head coach through 11 seasons.
The remaining finalists for the Jim Phelan Award are Jim Calhoun (Connecticut), John Calipari (Memphis), Jamie Dixon (Pittsburgh), Darrin Horn (South Carolina), Trent Johnson (LSU), Lorenzo Romar (Washington), Bill Self (Kansas), Brad Stevens (Butler) and Roy Williams (North Carolina).
The Jim Phelan Award is given annually to the nation's top coach, as voted on by the 20-member panel. The winner will be presented with the award at the 2009 Final Four in Detroit. Prior to 2003 the award was known simply as the CollegeInsider.com national coach of the year. It was renamed to honor longtime Mount St. Mary's head coach Jim Phelan who retired following the 2002-03 season.