Coach Weber shares summer tidbits and thoughts

The month of May might not be the most exciting time in the college basketball world, but Illinois head coach Bruce Weber is still hard at work. Weber shared his thoughts Thursday afternoon about anything and everything upon his return from Europe, where he conducted coaching clinics in Germany and Poland.

On his experience overseas: “I really enjoyed the trip. To me, I just enjoy, one, to travel and see parts of the world. I think I’ve just been so fortunate because of basketball to learn about other people. You got so many problems in the world, and wars and all that, and it seems like basketball kind of supersedes that. It’s a good way for good will, for our country, and the coaches were very appreciative. Just to learn so much and visit with the coaches, not only about basketball but about life … that was an enjoyable thing.”

On his contract extension through the 2014-15 season that raised his total salary from $1 million to $1.25 million currently and will increase to $1.5 million effective Jan. 15, 2010: “Anytime you get an extension, it’s a big step and excitement. Mr. Guenther (athletic director) for the last year talked about doing it, and he lived up to his word. For me, it’s the number of years. You hope that you’ll have the opportunity to stay here. If we continue to do well, I’d love to finish my career here. I think this extension will get me pretty close to that.”

On how long he, now at age 52, envisions coaching: “I’m pretty hyper, so I don’t know if I could sit around and just cut the grass and play golf, I’ll be honest. Again, it’s your health and how the program is doing. I would think, hopefully 60s, you know, early 60s. The one thing I’ve always said since I’ve got here, it’s a tough business because guys don’t usually go out on their own accord or the way they should go out. So I hope I have some smarts when it comes to that time, which I hope will be a ways away.”

On his jitters for his singing of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” during the 7th-inning stretch Sunday at Wrigley Field during Illinois Day: “I’ll be honest, to me, it’s the most intimidating thing. I just went to Poland and had an interpreter and spoke before coaches, and I didn’t know if they knew what the heck I was saying. But you stand up there and sing that song, it is definitely intimidating. I learned the second time I did it, don’t look down at the crowd. Just blank it out and sing and hope it doesn’t sound too bad. There was a bad one last week somebody said – Mr. T – so I can’t be that bad I hope. It’s a fun opportunity; hopefully, I don’t embarrass the state and University.”

On Alex Legion and Dominque Keller, who are on an exhibition basketball tour in China through Sports Reach ministry: “The good part of the trip is developing some toughness, learning to deal with different situations. I think in the long run, I hope it will be good for Alex and for Dominque, not only confidence-wise but just kind of maturing and like I said, appreciating what you have here. Maybe it will lead to opportunities for them down the road, too.”