The Illinois Fighting Illini have had a rough season. After starting the season 10-0 and vaulting into the Top 25, they have lost 7 of their last 8 games, falling to 16-10.
Following Wednesday's loss against the Purdue Boilermakers, head coach Bruce Weber laid blame on both himself and specific players, saying sophomore C Meyers Leonard did not put his full effort in the game until threatened with a benching and that he "should have 20 rebounds all the time. It's not fair to him. It's not fair to us. It's not fair to his teammates."
Today, Weber released a statement apologizing for his comments, according to USAToday:
"I spoke out of frustration following another difficult loss," [Weber] said. "I am disappointed in myself, as I said, for not developing a culture of toughness with our team up to this point in the season. The difference between winning and losing is toughness and having the will to win, and that is something we will continue to try to instill in our team.
"We have a young group that has now been involved in 13 games decided by five points or less, which I believe is the most of any program in the country this season. Our players, our staff, and I know our fans are frustrated because we are so close to putting it together.
"As I told our team last night, we have a lot to play for over these last five regular season games as well as the Big Ten tournament. We still have an opportunity to make the NCAA tournament, and I'm looking forward to practice today and working with our players to help us reach that goal."
The Illini have a 5-8 record in the Big Ten and play the Nebraska Cornhuskers this Saturday at 4:00 p.m. CST.
For updates, stay tuned to SB Nation Chicago. For more in-depth coverage of this matchup, head over to Illinois blog Hail to the Orange and Purdue blog Hammer and Rails. And for more news from around college basketball, check out SB Nation's NCAA basketball news hub.