Moving on up
SIU names assistant Painter as replacement for WeberPosted: Thursday May 01, 2003 10:57 AM
Updated: Thursday May 01, 2003 8:24 PM
CARBONDALE, Ill. (AP) -- Southern Illinois University on Thursday named assistant men's basketball coach Matt Painter to the head coaching job.
Painter will replace Bruce Weber, who was named head coach Wednesday at the University of Illinois.
"This is obviously a dream come true for me," said Painter, as he took the podium at a packed news conference at the university Thursday. He signed a four-year contract for $180,000 a year.
Painter was widely reported to be the top choice of the departing Weber, who was named the successor to Illinois coach Bill Self after he took the top job at Kansas.
The two men share a Boilermaker past. Bruce Weber recruited Painter as a player during Weber's 18 seasons assisting Purdue coach Gene Keady. He hired Painter at SIU in 1998, shortly after taking the job.
Painter said he coaches in Weber's and Keady's tradition of tough love.
"You got to know when to kick [players] in the fanny and when to hug them," said Painter, visibly nervous Thursday under the lights of television cameras. At times, he seemed to be fighting back tears as he addressed reporters for the first time as head coach.
"I always wanted to be a head coach, but if I was an assistant my whole life, I'd be fine, because I'd be around the players," said the Muncie, Ind., native.
Painter coached for one year each at Washington & Jefferson and Barton colleges before joining the coaching staff at Eastern Illinois in 1995, three years before arriving at SIU.
He helped Weber turn around a team that had posted three straight losing seasons. In 2002, the Salukis finished 28-8 and made it to the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA Tournament.
Last season, Southern Illinois went 24-7, winning the regular-season Missouri Valley Conference championship but losing to Missouri in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Painter, 32, will be the second-youngest men's basketball coach in Saluki history, said Tom Weber, the school spokesman. Former head coach Harry Gallatin was 31 when he was hired to head the team in 1958.
SIU Athletic Director Paul Kowalczyk said the players helped him make the decision when he met with them Tuesday night, shortly after Weber revealed to the team his departure for Illinois.
When Kowalczyk mentioned Painter to the team as a possible choice, "there was a chorus of approval that sealed the deal, as far as I was concerned," Kowalczyk said.
Thursday, several players repeated that sentiment.
"I think he'll be a great head coach," said guard Darren Brooks, who will be a junior next year. "I see leadership, determination, a competitive attitude, and he wants people to work hard."
"Hopefully, we can move forward and keep the tradition of the last two years going," said guard Stetson Hairston, who also will be a junior.
Painter said he expects SIU's recruits to stick to their plans to attend the school despite the departure of the head coach who recruited them.
"All of them are hurt, there's no question," said Painter.
"But I think we'll have them all in the fold" when the school