Goodbye Coach Painter, hello chris lowery

By Gus Bode

The Saluki men’s basketball team has had a rocky road over the last couple years. They’ve made it to NCAA tournament three straight years under two different coaches. That’s difficult enough. Now it looks like they’ll be going for four straight appearances under yet another new coach.

The team’s success has also given it its greatest challenge:How to keep winning when they can’t keep a coach.

Matt Painter is leaving SIUC for an assistant coaching job at Purdue. The national attention Painter’s team received last season has helped him to move on to bigger and, arguably, better places.

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Purdue is Painter’s alma mater. He played under current head coach Gene Keady from 1989 to 1993. He has said coaching at Purdue would be a dream for him, and he now has the opportunity to make that dream a reality. We wish him the best of luck.

On the bright side, the cloud of uncertainty hanging over SIUC has been lifted relatively quickly. Painter’s decision has been made, and thanks to Athletic Director Paul Kowalczyk’s quick action, we already have a new coach to welcome aboard after just one day.

Chris Lowery, our incoming head coach, is an SIUC alumnus and a former Saluki player. He served as Bruce Weber’s assistant here in 2002 – 2003, and spent last season with Weber in Champaign.

His return to SIUC will bring a continuation of everything that has made our team so successful. He is likely to employ the same offensive and defensive patterns that Weber and Painter have employed, and he will retain much of the talent that made last year’s team great.

He will likely be more loyal than his predecessors as well. Lowery is young. He played for SIUC in the 1990s and has ties to the region and the school, much the same way Painter has ties to Purdue.

He will also be the first black head coach in the history of the men’s basketball program. Amid the departure of already scarce black faculty from SIUC, Lowery’s hire could be a first step in bringing a measure of reconciliation between the administration and our black faculty.

We wish Lowery the best of luck in continuing the success of his predecessors. Our men’s basketball team has been a source of pride for the entire Southern Illinois region, and they’ve maintained a level of success in the face of adversity that is truly extraordinary.

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Perhaps with Lowery as our head coach, we can have success and security at the same time.

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