Meet the candidates: John Groce

Meet the candidates: John Groce

Beat writer Paul Klee is analyzing 18 candidates for the Illinois basketball job — one every hour.

John Groce

Ohio University head coach

(Odds 15:1)

Age: 40

Why he fits: Toss out the black/white coach dynamic, former Ohio State assistant might be a leading candidate. ... Ohio entered NCAA tournament with school-record 27 wins and second MAC tournament title in Groce's four years. ... Comes from same Butler-Xavier-Ohio State pipeline as Thad Matta, albeit as an assistant (on season at Butler, three at Xavier, four at Ohio State). ... Carried title of associate head coach under Matta at Ohio State. ... Key recruiter on Mike Conley Jr., Daequan Cook and Greg Oden at Ohio State ... Illinois AD Mike Thomas has history of hiring coaches from MAC. ... Style of play is a plus; Ohio led MAC in scoring and turnover margin. ... Illinois would be significant pay raise. Base salary at Ohio reportedly is around $250,000.

Why he doesn't: There is pressure from within university to hire black coach. ... Unproven as head coach past the MAC level. ... High-energy sideline behavior could upset those pining for calm. ... Nebraska has eyes on hiring Groce to replace Doc Sadler.

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coryfor3 wrote on March 17, 2012 at 4:03 pm

If we are competing with Nebraska for a coach that is the surest sign that the coaching search flopped. Groce hiring would be underwhelming to say the least. Beckman 2.0. What happened to thinking big? 

Bear8287 wrote on March 18, 2012 at 1:03 am

Oh my.  Illinois now sucks so bad in basketball that we have to worry about competing with Nebraska for a basketball coach? (Well... I guess Nebraska was up by as many as 32 points the last time the Illini got blown off the court by a final difference of 23 points...)

From the stats listed here:
for programs with a minimum of 25 years in Division 1, Illinois ranks 13th in all-time wins with 1,630 and Illinois ranks 12th in all-time winning percentage with an overall winning percentage of 0 .653. Including this year's numbers the overall numbers will shift but the rankings probably won't change.  AD Thomas has said that Illinois ranks in the Top 10 in attendance.

With this kind of history, why would Illinois have such a hard time hiring a quality coach? Did Bruce Weber really do *that much* damage to the program? Is the expectation that AD Thomas won't be able to make an offer with competitive compensation.

How about an article detailing the pros and cons of coaching at Illinois?




houstonillini84 wrote on March 22, 2012 at 11:03 am

well we couldnt beat out VCU...

allillini wrote on March 22, 2012 at 11:03 am

The further this coaching search goes the more often the Chicago area problem seems to surface. Maybe it is no coincidence that so many really good coaches have no interest in the job because of the idea we must recruit Chicago. Perhaps those in charge should ignore the pressure from within to recruit that area and look in other directions so we do not have to deal with that problem at all. It is almost like begging for sanctions down the road, and if that many good coaches point that out as a problem, I would think that is reason enough to go the other direction. Offer some great coaches the job and forget the Chicago connection that we apparently do not have anyway, and maybe without that being shoved down their throat, someone would accept the job?How in the worl do all of these other great coaches win without dealing with Chicago? Of course we are in illinois, and our state is already known for being corrupt, so I guess that is why we think we have to stay that way in our recruiting too? I have no problem with getting a coach of any denomination, including a white one, if he is good, bit I see no reason to put the university in a precarious position with future coaches or the NCAA just so we can recruit Chicago.

blmillini wrote on March 18, 2012 at 1:03 pm

Really!!!! 15:1 odds given lower odds of so many other more qualified candidates?  This would initially be viewed as a failure but I like what I have seen from Beckman so far.  So, in Thomas I trust.  I just hope you are wrong.

IlliniNationsCapital wrote on March 22, 2012 at 12:03 pm

Gotta disagree with you guys. Groce is a recruiting stud who clearly gets how to run a program too, as evidenced by getting to the Sweet 16 right now. Hiring him now could be akin to hiring Thad Matta in 2004 from Xavier - a coach on the rise who could be great very quickly.



jruss62 wrote on March 22, 2012 at 4:03 pm

NO NO and NO to this guy Groce is not the guy for Illini.

I have said it more then once Buzz Williams will be the next head basketball coach at the Uof I



Chief_Lives wrote on March 27, 2012 at 12:03 am

Why would Williams leave for Illinois? Marquette is a much better job right now and I think he already makes around 2.3 Million? Not sure. Marquette actually has a national championship & probably looked upon in much better light to Chicago recruits than the Illini given the opposite directions the two programs have been going in over the last few years

illinifan 45 years wrote on March 26, 2012 at 3:03 pm

Thad Matta-came from mid-major; Bill Self-ditto; Anybody remember Bo Ryan came from a D-3 school; Matt Painter-Purdue Asst and mid-major (SIU) head coach

Croce's team led MAC in scorining-Illinois last 14 games under Mr Motion-Offense exceeded 70 only 3 times (71,72,74) and never broke 75.

An uptempo coach who was a tough out in Tourney and also he was Matta's Associate Head Coach!

Hope we get him.