The 13-day period from April 26-May 8 was a whirlwind for DeKalb product and current Illinois State basketball player Jordan Threloff.
April 26 was the day former Redbirds coach Tim Jankovich was announced as the associate head coach/coach-in-waiting under Larry Brown at Southern Methodist University.
The decision shocked ISU, a team that was was one win away from an NCAA tournament appearance in 2012, falling to Creighton in overtime of the Missouri Valley Conference tournament final in St. Louis.
Jankovich went 105-64 in five seasons with the Redbirds, making four NIT appearances.
“It was tough. ... It was just tough. That’s probably the easiest and best way to say it,” Threloff said of losing Jankovich. “We didn’t really know where to go from there. None of us had been through this before, obviously.”
Just less than two weeks later, ISU named Jankovich’s replacement, former Vanderbilt assistant Dan Muller, who was part of the Redbirds’ last NCAA tournament team in 1998.
Threloff and the rest of his team found out who their new coach was the day before spring semester finals, and not too long before they would head home for the summer.
There was a lot of uncertainty around the program at the time.
“We didn’t know [Muller]. We didn’t know how he was going to change things. Who, if anyone, was going to leave,” said Threloff, who averaged 3.2 points per game and 3.3 rebounds in 2011-12. “What systems he was going to keep, who on our staff he was going to keep. We just weren’t sure.”
In the end, Threloff and the rest of his teammates felt they had something good going on in Normal. The Redbirds finished the 2012 season 21-14, falling to Stanford in the second round of the NIT. ISU loses just one starter from last year.
Threloff never looked into transferring.
“No, not really,” he said. “I wanted to stay here for the most part. I wanted to be with these guys. It doesn’t matter who the coach is, we have a great group of guys. We wanted to stick around.”
Another plus for Threloff was the fact ISU kept former Northern Illinois head coach Rob Judson as an assistant. Judson had worked under Jankovich from 2008-12 after going 74-101 at NIU from 2001-07. Threloff said Judson was a finalist for the head coaching position, and that ISU said he would have the opportunity to stay on staff even if he wasn’t hired as head coach.
Threloff first met Judson when he worked as an NIU ball boy, and the former NIU coach played a big part in bringing Threloff to Normal.
Judson staying was just one reason Threloff is looking forward to the rest of his career at ISU. He missed the Missouri Valley tournament and the NIT with a broken thumb, but is already back to 100 percent.
“It was good for me,” he said of being able to play for Judson. “At the same time, I wanted to stay. I wanted to stay, for the most part because I believe we have something special here. We have a great group of guys.”