Illinois State Rebuilding For Success
(Normal, IL) – After winning 28 games and earning a share of the Missouri Valley Conference regular season title, Illinois State is rebuilding the talent base and replacing an assistant coach. What is ahead for the defending champions?
Head coach Dan Muller says this year’s edition of Redbird basketball is extremely talented and should be a factor in the MVC race. Muller’s teams have won 104 games in five years, so his perspective should be respected.
We asked Muller a wide range of questions from analyzing his current team, to looking back at last year’s success and about the Valley’s recent expansion process. This is the first installment of our two-part series with the former Valley ‘Player of the Year’ and reigning ‘Coach of the Year’.
Last year’s team set an ILS record with those 28 victories, won their first conference title since Muller was a player in 1998, but they graduated four starters, two substitutes transferred and one coach moved on. So Muller can enjoy fond memories, but has his sleeves rolled up and is ready to work.
He tells us that last year’s team was fun to coach.
Much of the transition in college basketball happens in April and the Redbirds were hit hard when their best remaining player MiKyle McIntosh (somewhat) surprisingly chose to enter the NBA draft and if not selected, to transfer. D.J. Clayton and Andre Washington elected to transfer and assistant coach Dean Oliver left for a similar position at Wisconsin.
Muller says the Redbird staff was prepared for those possibilities.
Perhaps the biggest take away from our visit was when Muller told me this could be his most talented recruiting class ever.
In our next installment Muller talks about the Valley’s endeavor to replace the departing Wichita State and who he thinks will be championship contenders this coming season.