Team preview: Western Illinois

Blue Ribbon Illustrated previews the 2003-04 college basketball season, exclusively on Insider.

Updated: November 6, 2003, 8:16 AM ET
Blue Ribbon Yearbook
Editor's Note: Insider has teamed with Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook, long known as the Bible of college basketball, to provide a comprehensive look at all 327 Division I teams.

Derek Thomas took a leap of faith when he was hired at Western Illinois last spring. One of college basketball's most proven assistants, Thomas was comfortable at UNLV assisting Charlie Spoonhour and could have held out for a more inviting situation for his first head-coaching job.

But Thomas thought he could get the job done and turn around a Leathernecks team that won just 32 games in the last four seasons of Jim Kerwin's tenure as head coach.