Vitale to Groce: You've got to get players

Vitale to Groce: You've got to get players

ESPN college basketball analyst Dick Vitale is familiar with first-year Illinois basketball coach John Groce, and he's very familiar with the history of the Illini basketball program. Groce showed everyone in the country he can coach last season by leading Ohi to a Mid-American Conference tournament championship and within a few seconds of knocking off top-seeded North Carolina for a berth in the Elite Eight.

The task for Groce at Illinois, Vitale said, will be getting top-level players to play for the state school.

"Certainly (Groce) has done a heck of a job everywhere he’s been," Vitale said Tuesday. "The bottom line at Illinois is they’ve got to lock down the great players in that state. They’ve got to go out and get those kids. They can’t let those kids go away.

"Obviously, now when I look at Jabari Parker, one of the better high school players in America, some say the best or one of the top five, he doesn’t have them on his list. That’s the area where they have to elevate and get themselves to.

"I was just with, the other day, Marcus Liberty, he’s living down here in Sarasota (Fla.), and we’re talking about the team in ’89," Vitale continued. "My God, when I think about that team with our own Stephen Bardo and guys like Lowell Hamilton and Nick Anderson, that team was special, man, that was special. You need players, I don’t care who you are. (Kentucky coach John) Calipari starts out, these kids are five-star players coming out of high school, five-plus in many cases. You need players, you’re not going to win with too many Dick Vitales. If you have some Jay Bilases, you can win, but too many Vitales, you’re going to the loser’s circle."

Vitale noted that he likes senior guard Brandon Paul and said Paul will have to have a big year for the Illini in 2012-13.

Fellow ESPN analyst Jay Bilas notes the success Groce had at Ohio and his time as an assistant under current Ohio State coach Thad Matta as to why the 41-year-old can get the Illini program trending in a positive direction.

"He’s learned how to do it the right way and has seen every level. He’s not going to have the kind of size hes been used to and that’s going to probably be the difference. His kids are going to play hard," Bilas said. "I think right now, for him, it's laying the foundation. John has been a great recruiter over the years because he knows how to relate to people. In addition to teaching and coaching, his greatest strength is building relationships and keeping them. I have no doubt he’ll be successful. It’s just a question of laying that right foundation down and he’s been at places where that foundation has been laid down and he’s been a big part of laying down so he understands how to do it."

Comments

News-Gazette.com embraces discussion of both community and world issues. We welcome you to contribute your ideas, opinions and comments, but we ask that you avoid personal attacks, vulgarity and hate speech. We reserve the right to remove any comment at our discretion, and we will block repeat offenders' accounts. To post comments, you must first be a registered user, and your username will appear with any comment you post. Happy posting.

Login or register to post comments

illinifaningeorgia wrote on November 06, 2012 at 7:11 pm

The task for Groce at Illinois, Vitale said, will be getting top-level players to play for the state school.

Brilliaint observation from Captain Obvious.

jwillenbo wrote on November 07, 2012 at 8:11 am

Yeah..no kidding..stick to the State of North Carolina Duke Vitale

Moonpie wrote on November 07, 2012 at 11:11 am

Vitale and Saint Tate ought to be forced to live next door to each other.

patrick wrote on November 07, 2012 at 12:11 pm

Is it possible for Vitale to utter a sentence without using the word, "special"?  His routine wore out many years ago.

chuckles wrote on November 07, 2012 at 2:11 pm

Vitale is annoying but is Illini Friendly. It is Jay Bilas and Digger Plelps that ought to hang with Obi Wan Tate drinking Orange/Blue Koolaide!

walker wrote on November 07, 2012 at 3:11 pm

the sentences that don't use "special" typically have the word "baby"   Wow, the idea that Groce needs to get players from the state.  Hopefully, somebody wrote that down so we don't forget. You know illiniNation can be pretty forgetful and stupid.

GlenM wrote on November 07, 2012 at 8:11 pm

I sincerely doubt Vitale is familiar with either coach Groce or the history of the Illini program.  He is a fair weather fan and Captain Obvious.  You could take his comments here and turn them into a form letter:


Certainly Coach [Name] has done a heck of a job everywhere he’s been


The bottom line at [School] is they’ve got to lock down the great players in that [City] [State]


I was just with, the other day, [player living in Florida], and we’re talking about the [Final Four team from School]. "My God, when I think about that team with [ESPN employee] and guys like [HS McD AA #1] and [HS McD AA #2], that team was special, man, that was special


Vitale noted that he likes [Player with consensus NBA potential] and said [Player] will have to have a big year for the [School Nickname] in [Season].


Bilas' comments are no different.  This artice is a waste of space, if I wanted generic information straight from the mouths of ESPN hacks I could go to another website.  I miss Klee now.

davef wrote on November 08, 2012 at 8:11 am

Wait a minute.  It's one thing to be overly critical of Vitale because you don't like him, but there's no need to criticize Marcus Jackson.  Give him credit for getting an interview with a national personality instead of writing the usual article.  Give him time. 

CecilColeman wrote on November 11, 2012 at 12:11 pm

The above comment can also apply to all of the annual fluff sold year after year by Tom Lemming regarding football.

CecilColeman wrote on November 11, 2012 at 12:11 pm

ESPN......Dick Vitale.......Digger Phelps.......Bobby Knight.....and now Bruce Pearl.  Does anyone really give a HOOT what either one of these washed up nobodies has to say?

IlliniHimey wrote on November 12, 2012 at 10:11 pm

Hey Vitale, go knaw on your fake eye.