It’s no secret that the Western Illinois men’s basketball team has struggled the last six years under the Billy Wright era. With losing season after season, the Leathernecks finally got the change they so desperately needed. They opted to bring an experienced coach who has had success at the Division One level. After plenty of rumors on who the next coach would be, they brought in new Head Coach Rob Jeter.
Jeter has been around the college basketball scene for quite some time but is known for his tenure with the University of Milwaukee. Coach Jeter left UWM as the all-time winningest coach with a 185-170 record from 2006-2015. He also was able to secure a win in the NCAA tournament against No. 5 seeded Oklahoma. After his time with Milwaukee, he became an assistant head coach at Minnesota and UNLV.
I was able to sit down with coach Jeter to talk about the upcoming season and learn more about him as a coach. When asking about the Macomb community and how he’s settling in, he said, “I have gotten a chance to go around to a few places, and am still trying to do as much as I can with COVID-19 still going on.”
Just like the rest of the Macomb community, he is just as excited to come to Western and build a tradition of winning.
“The thing I’m most excited for is bringing winning basketball back to Macomb,” said Jeter. “We have a tremendous opportunity to do something special and build a program at Western Illinois”
And when I asked him about how difficult it was to recruit and hire a staff during COVID-19 Jeter told me, “Well, luckily for me I had plenty of connections throughout my coaching career, and this is something I have been planning for a long time. Me and Coach Bordeau have been waiting for an opportunity, and then we were able to add in Nick Irvin to help get a good mix between high school and college experience.”
While Western Illinois was ranked last in the preseason rankings, it did not phase Coach Jeter. “That’s where we were. We were the worst team in the league, but that’s not where we want to stay. Because of that, that gives us a lot of motivation and our guys are ready for the challenge.”
Coach Jeter is known for his aggressive style defense, and when I asked about his full-court press he laughed and said, “Well it’s all about bodies now. Hopefully, we can stay healthy enough where we can bring it out and really extend the pressure a little bit.”
Western Illinois hoops is in good hands with these two at the helm, and it will be a fun time to follow this team with the program on the rise. Hopefully, Jeter and Co. can lead this team to some March magic in the years to come.