All eyes on Groce

All eyes on Groce

CHAMPAIGN — He's 40, originally from Muncie, Ind., and coached Ohio University to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament this season.

And unless something drastic changes in the next 48 hours, John Groce is the leading candidate to be the next basketball coach at Illinois.

Illinois and Groce, or at least third parties close to the Ohio coach, are in talks that would make him the coach of the Illini, multiple sources said late Sunday. There was room for movement, though it appeared as though Groce eventually would be the man.

No. 13 Ohio (29-8, 11-5 MAC) finally was knocked out of the NCAA tournament in a 73-65 overtime loss to No. 1 North Carolina on Friday. Groce did not respond to a voicemail or text messages to his cellphone Sunday.

Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas said late Sunday that a decision on the next coach had not been made.

Groce is part of the successful Butler-Xavier-Ohio State coaching tree. He played for the legendary Paul Patterson at Taylor University in Indiana and worked under Herb Sendek (at North Carolina State) and Thad Matta (Butler, Xavier and Ohio State).

Groce gained a reputation in the Midwest as a standout recruiter. He helped lure Mike Conley and Greg Oden to Ohio State, for example. In four seasons as the head coach at Ohio University, his records are 85-56 overall and 34-30 in the MAC. Most notably, he directed the Bobcats to NCAA tournament upsets of Georgetown, Michigan and South Florida.

Illinois predictably made a run at Butler coach Brad Stevens, as well. Thomas, who attended an Illini softball game and tennis match Sunday, flew to the Indianapolis area at some point during the weekend, according to a source.

It was unclear if the AD met face-to-face with Stevens. There was never an in-person meeting with VCU coach Shaka Smart, who was speculated as the first target of the Illinois search.

Regardless, Stevens always was a serious long shot. As Internet rumors surfaced that he was allegedly in play, multiple sources who know Stevens well said they would be "shocked" and "stunned" if Stevens left Butler for Illinois. The fit wasn't right, sources said.

Butler later released a statement Sunday that announced Stevens isn't entertaining offers from other schools.

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butkus50 wrote on March 26, 2012 at 3:03 am

Smart move. Groce appears to be the best second choice on the board. Groce reportedly is making $250K/ year which leaves plenty of money to retain Howard as associate head coach and I would like to see Simeon HS head coach added to staff but assume that will be Groce's call. All could be done for less than Smart's reported offer. Matta style of play is exciting, winning and Matta has brought Ohio State from aveage to national power; hopefully that's what we get with Groce. 

houstonillini84 wrote on March 26, 2012 at 1:03 pm

Second best on whose board? Frankly, if he is second best, something is freaking wrong with our board. Dont tell me he is the second best potential hire in the NCAA. People say we are a top 15 job, well how about a top 15 coach? The guy has one decent year at a little midmajor and he is the second best hire at the University of Illinois? Come on.

Villain wrote on March 26, 2012 at 6:03 am

How can Thomas jump from Smart and Stevens all the way down to Groce when there are so many better candidates available yet?  $2.5 million attracts a lot of attention and it's widely know that Frank Martin and Reggie Theus are willing to crawl to CU to take this job.  Why is Thomas so insistent getting a deal done rather than getting the right man for the job?  I hope he realizes that if Groce is his guy, both Thomas and Groce are going to have some serious rejection amongst much of the fan base.  At least the Weber haters and the Weber supports will be able to reunite in their shared dislike of this hire.

To the BOT:  if you're out there paying attention, please do what you can to stop this from happening.  Mike Thomas is about to set our basketball program back another decade.

Green Shirt wrote on March 26, 2012 at 7:03 am

I find it incredible that anyone would seriously advocate Frank Martin for the Illinois basketball opening.  This Bob Huggins protege had two state titles vacated at Miami Senior High School for recruiting violations.  That's right - high school recruiting violations.  His hiring would put the Illini on the path toward NCAA sanctions. 

Jam wrote on March 26, 2012 at 7:03 am

Obviously, Villan knows everything about everyone and has been involved in all of the background checks and discussions with the search committee. MT is looking for the right fit for the UI. Given the oft spoken downsides of this job this may not be as easy a job to fill as some would have us think. I have confidence in the decision that MT and his committee will make.

houstonillini84 wrote on March 26, 2012 at 9:03 am

funny, thats not what the fire-Weber people said before he was fired. Then, the sky was the limit. All of a sudden, after Thomas swings and misses again, now the best UI can do is hire a virtually unknown coach from a nowhere school. Football was disappointing enough, but hoops too??!! No excitement around these hires, no enthusiasm, just 'well I guess he is the best we can get'. Thomas is all talk - he talks about competing for championships but he sure cant compete for any championship when it comes to hiring coaches.


I went to UI in the 80s, with the slogan 'the 80s belong to the Illini!'. With mid-major Thomas, our new slogan can be 'UI coaches: 'unknown, underqualified and overpaid', or 'UI, we have all the tools to win championships... in the Mid-American conference'. Ugh

Bear8287 wrote on March 26, 2012 at 12:03 pm

Patience Grasshopper.  Good things come to those who wait...

read the DI wrote on March 26, 2012 at 2:03 pm

He went to U of I in the 80s. Nuff said.

read the DI wrote on March 26, 2012 at 7:03 am

The first rule of addiction is admitting you have a problem. Thomas made the right move in slaying the Weber beast. Anyone -- anyone -- would be preferable to that sack of coaching s---. I don't care if Thomas hires the ghost of Lee Cabutti to coach the Illini this year. We already are on a better track.

furg22 wrote on March 26, 2012 at 7:03 am

Someone please tell me this is just a nightmare I'm having.  We can not seriously be considering hiring John Groce.  I'm willing to bet that 92% of people don't even know the correct pronunciation of his last name, yet we're going to hand over the keys to the program to this guy?

Also what happened to the Trustees?  At the onset of this hire there was significant pressure from them for Mike Thomas to make a minority hire.  Now were going to pass up on a more qualified and well connected AA candidate in Theus for a guy who is barely above .500 in the MAC in his four years there?

And Green Shirt, you are kidding yourself if you think that Groce was clean at OSU in getting those players when he was an assistant there.  Frank Martin may play on the fringe, but he's no more "dirty" than Groce.  The only difference between them is that Martin is a known name and he'd likely win big immeadiately.

bfella wrote on March 26, 2012 at 8:03 am

First off, John Groce might be a really good fit at Illinois. I don't understand why all fans are jumping to the conclusion that if we hire Groce we will be set back a decade. 

I think we need to tame our expectations. Relax our shouting and give this guy a chance. 

Also, I really think a lot of illini fans are really full of anger and probaby need to stop reading and go outside for some fresh air. Calm down and gain some perspective. 

houstonillini84 wrote on March 26, 2012 at 9:03 am

Because Illini basketball can do a lot better. First we swung and miss in football hires, and now hoops. I can understand football, but UI is a very good hoops job and one would think we could come up with a bigger name than Groce. Talk about bringing the fans to their seats. He may or may not turn out to be a good coach, but he sure doesnt create excitement. 

read the DI wrote on March 28, 2012 at 3:03 pm

"Because Illini basketball can do a lot better."

Can we? With whom?

illiniart wrote on March 26, 2012 at 8:03 am

When you compare this guy to the reputations of Self and Kruger when they were hired, it shows how far down this program has gone.  My bet is that before the NCAA tournament this year not 1% of Illini basketball fans could tell you where this guy was coaching. 

Mike Thomas appears to be building a minor league level of head coaches at the U of I. 

Paying Beckman $1.6 million when he was making $400,000 in his last job seemed like a really ridiculous amount.  If Groce is making $250,000, that alone shows you how unqualified he is for our coaching position. 

If you are hiring these lowly paid people, why do you have to pay them exhorbitant salaries to come here.  They'd probably crawl over broken glass to get the jobs.

OKOMIS wrote on March 26, 2012 at 9:03 am

In Google’ing him.. everything from Denver Post to NY Times articles popped up, ALL favorable articles and ALL calling him this year’s “hot commodity” Smart was everyone’s 1st choice and would have made the biggest splash, and would have made us feel good right away… that didn’t happen, Groce is the right pick. Thad Matta certainly wasn’t called a sexy pick when OSU got him…  I laugh Weber was left off your hot guy previous Illini hires…


IlliniGator14 wrote on March 26, 2012 at 9:03 am
Profile Picture

So basically, Bruce Weber with less hair and less wins, in a lesser conference (MAC vs, MVC)

Weber conference record* after 3 seasons: 32-22 (.593); Groce first 3 in MAC: 29-27(.518)Weber last two MVC record*: 30-6 (.833)  Groce last 2 MAC  24-13 (.645)   * incld.conf.tourn.

Weber pre-Illinois record -  Overall 103-54 (.656), Conference 62-28 (.689)

Groce pre-Illinois record -   Overall  85-56  (.603), Conference 43-32 (.573)

Best Conference Results; Weber: two-1st, one-3rd  Groce two-3rd

Both have identical pre-Illinois NCAA records: one run to sweet 16, one first round loss; for 2-2 records

Groce's two NCAA appearances were based upon Conference Tournament wins. Take away those, (7-0), and his overall MAC record is barely .500, 36-32 (.529).

If John gets the job , I only wish him the best. But anyone that's more excited today then they were nine years ago needs to double-check those numbers.

You know what they say; the grass isn't always greener on the other side - but here is hoping for the best, Good Luck John !

And Best Wishes and Good Luck to BW, too !


Bear8287 wrote on March 26, 2012 at 6:03 pm

Is Illinois basketball coach search really a ‘national embarrassment?’

I don’t know the man, but Groce’s resume is stronger than Self’s was when Illinois hired him. And in this day and age, Groce’s mid-major background can’t be dismissed. On the contrary, that seems to be where all the up-and-coming coaches are coming from.  -- MARK POTASH Staff Reporter, Chicago Sun-Times


Maybe everyone should just chill and let Mike Thomas do his job. Given AD Thomas' history of picking coaches, you'd think that the fans could at least wait until they've put teams on the field or court before whining.  We've got some fans on this site whining before a coach has even been officially announced.

jruss62 wrote on March 26, 2012 at 9:03 am

Maybe instead of bring Groce to Illinois Thomas should ask the big ten to drop from the conf. and we joint the MAC. If this is what we have to look forward to maybe we should just hire Webber back.(LMAO).This guy has one good year and we are ready to hire him.I dont think so.If this is the hire the intire team even the waterboy will leave.

houstonillini84 wrote on March 26, 2012 at 1:03 pm

LOL, exactly, we hired Weber after a very good year at SIU. Very similar circumstances.

Listen, I dont think Groce would be a 'bad' hire. He is definitely a question mark, but hey any coach is a question mark... except that some are a lot less of a question mark than others. I really had hopes that in hoops we could hire a big name, someone who could create excitement about the program over night, sort of like Sumlin would have been in football. I am disappointed in Groce, not because he is terrible but because we could have done so much better, so much more exciting.

Our new slogan under Mike Thomas:

'ILLINOIS WILL COMPETE FOR CHAMPIONSHIPS..... in the Mid-American conference'.


aaeismacgychel wrote on March 26, 2012 at 9:03 am

I'll actually make a serious and non-sarcastic post this time.  I will support whatever coach we hire at Illinois, and it is possible Groce will be a good coach or anyone else still in the candidate pool.  To be honest we'll never know until they get here.  But here's where I have an issue:  Why did we go in the direction we did in the coaching search?  I'm not denying Weber had to go, but the manner in which he was gotten rid of and how we began our hiring process eliminated any chance we'd have at getting a brand name or high end coach.  Mike Thomas made some egregious errors in this process and while the end may turn out good (or bad) it certainly doesn't justify the means.  Let's just look at the major actions Mike Thomas has taken and their results:

1. Does not give Weber a vote of confidence when Illinois is 16-6.
Course: Illinois does indeed falter down the stretch going 1-9
Result: The President of the Coaches Association goes on record as saying AD Thomas greatly mishandled the situation and that his actions damage the coaching profession
Consequence: Any coach within the Coaches Association who respects Izzo's criticisms would steer clear of Illinois
Alternative strategy?: Thomas could have stated he supported Weber at that time.  If Illinois still faltered down the stretch, he could have gotten rid of him based on performance with no ill effects to the University or to the position.

2. Two Board members give a no vote to the hiring of Beckman because "he isn't black" (their quote, not mine) and state that they want to see the next major coaching hire be an African-American.
Course: Thomas makes "diversity a key factor in the coaching search"
Consequence: All early "coaching candidates" lists contain solely African-American coaches.  Numerous National media outlets bring up Illinois and racism in the same sentence, which would both turn off high profile coaches of all backgrounds expecting Illinois to be an equal-opportunity institute, which they clearly have proven to not be in this process.
Alternative strategy?:  Thomas could have called for their immediate dismissal and stated that all candidates will be judged based off of accomplishments and color, race, religion, and orientation have never been and will never be a factor in hiring a new coach.  That Illinois is an equal-opportunity institution that aspires to get the best candidate.

As I said, whatever coach we hire, I will support, but Mike Thomas has forced us into the position that we are currently in.  One where he won't get the fans top choice, one where he might select a white coach over a similarly or more highly experienced minority coach, and one where no matter who the new coach is will be subject to questions of race and him being a 5th or 6th choice he shouldn't have to deal with.

Speaking of, why are we not gauging interest or offering overtures to Frank Martin, a high coach who also just so happens to be a minority?  Yes, he had high school wins vacated in Miami for giving destitute kids money out of his own pocket from my understanding.  Yes, you can't do that as a coach in college, but honestly, that talks more about his good character than his shadiness.  I think he'd be fine as a coach at Illinois and play by the rules.

mahillinois wrote on March 26, 2012 at 11:03 am

What is it with the love of the MAC (Men Around Columbus?) coaches?...Is this the best we can do right now?

houstonillini84 wrote on March 26, 2012 at 1:03 pm

yes, apparently its the best Thomas can do. Those are great hires... for some schools, but UI could have dont better. Much better in the case of hoops. Its sad. It would have been nice to have an exciting hire, at least in one sport.

Funny how the people who complained we were 'accepting mediocrity' are so eager to accept it now. Beckman and Groce? Seriously? THAT's the best we can do? That sound of crickets chirping is the new exciting sound of Illinois athletics.

kzimmer001 wrote on March 26, 2012 at 12:03 pm

Bruce Weber and Ron Guenther have damaged the Illinois basketball brand more than anyone imagined.

houstonillini84 wrote on March 26, 2012 at 1:03 pm

LOL, right, but its Mike Thomas who is locking in mediocrity for the forseeable future. No excitement among the fan base, even in hoops. Mike Thomas, bringing MAC athletics to the Big Ten, one department at a time! yay!

Empire2Ed wrote on March 27, 2012 at 3:03 am

And all it will take is one or two seasons and the brand is restored. Is there any reason this team couldn't make the sweet 16 next year? With a style that better fits it's roster, a tight group of freshmen that are a year older, ane the energy that the new coach brings in it is possible. Everyone acts like the basketball team is so far away. It's not. There is no reason Groce or whoever the next coach may be couldn't have a top 10 team in 3 or 4 years. 

walker wrote on March 26, 2012 at 12:03 pm

just like I predicted.  All the fuss to fire Zook & Weber.  Now we have an opportunity to simply

perpetuate mediocrity at a much higher pricetag.  Thomas is in way over his head.

OKOMIS wrote on March 26, 2012 at 12:03 pm

just like I predicted. All the fuss to fire Zook & Weber. Now we have an opportunity … WELL SAID, BECAUSE WITH THEM WE HAD NO CHANCE!!

houstonillini84 wrote on March 26, 2012 at 1:03 pm

actually, werent we tied in the NC game with like a minute left under Weber? Isnt that the best we ever did, at least in the era with baskets not peach buckets LOL? A little perspective is called for. Weber didnt build the program the way we wanted but we did achieve great success under his coaching, at least for a while.

read the DI wrote on March 26, 2012 at 1:03 pm

Actually, didn't we miss the NCAAs 3 times in the last 5 years? Actually, didn't we have a losing record in the Big 10 over the past 6 years? Hell, it doesn't matter if Thomas picks every coach from the MAC or not, since under Weber playing at that level that would have been a step up.

In short, it doesn't matter whether Illinois had won in 2005 or not. It's ancient history. Weber didn't get it done. Move on.

houstonillini84 wrote on March 26, 2012 at 1:03 pm

LOL, any coach in the MAC is a step up from Weber. Whatever. But I guess we will find out, since a coach from the MAC is the very best this AD seems able to come up with, for the UI basketball job. Ugh.

Mike Thomas, bringing MAC athletics to the University of Illinois, one coach at a time. Get psyched! Uh, or not.

Liner wrote on March 26, 2012 at 1:03 pm

   Its amazing how much everyone seems to know about what MT's thought process was and how he came to the decision to offer to Groce [assuming he has]. Also have all of those who know who should have been hired ever looked at how many great coaches started in the MAC? Coach Groce has a very good pedigree and he maybe the next great coach. Comparing team records without knowing the talent level of the program when the coaches came to various schools is unfair. His team played hard and was fundamentally sound and appeared to be a cohesive unit; all things we can use.

 So far to my knowledge Coach Beckman and Groce are 0-0. Everyone wanted to change and AD Thomas has given that to the fans and so lets not rip the poor guys he has selected until they are given an opportunity. How does anyone here know how Reggie Theus would do as a head coach? He hasn't been one at many places or very long. Why Frank Martin? He did well with Huggin's left over talent and his team appears to play hard but his ability to recruit in Big 10 country is an unknown. Personally I kind of liked Leonard Hamilton as a choice but I'm sure there would have been a lot of people saying he is too old. No one satisfies everyone and Shaka Smart couldn't have come here and done less than a final four finish and lived up to the hype and he sees the situation for what it is. Perhaps others did as well?

If Meyers stays Groce will have illini in top 5 next year; if Meyers doesn't then it all depends on how fast the guys can adapt to a new style of play. Same would have been true for most of the coaches under consideration.

JohnUI82 wrote on March 26, 2012 at 1:03 pm

With so-called "fans" like these, Illinois certainly has no shortage of enemies. Groce hasn't even been officially announced, and neither he nor Beckman has coached the first half of his first Illini game, yet they're both being branded as bad hires.

Would be karma if at their next jobs the complaining whiners were labeled as losers before they show up for their first day of work.

houstonillini84 wrote on March 26, 2012 at 1:03 pm

so folks shouldnt express their opinions about a coaching hire? People cant be disappointed that a more exciting name couldnt be hired in basketball? Really? People are supposed to agree that bringing the MAC to UI one coach at a time is the best UI can do? Really?

read the DI wrote on March 26, 2012 at 1:03 pm

That's exactly how we felt about the Weber hire, and look what a unmitigated disaster that was. Maybe we have something in common after all.

houstonillini84 wrote on March 26, 2012 at 1:03 pm

funny I didnt hear people saying that when we won the BT his first two years and we went to the NC game. I will tell you what, if this coach wins the BT next year and takes us to the NC game after that, he is a good hire, regardless of what happens after (other than sanctions). Lets see what happens. In the meantime, we get a MAC coach in Jerry Tarkanian's body. Ugh.

read the DI wrote on March 26, 2012 at 2:03 pm

Anything you say, Bruce.

houstonillini84 wrote on March 26, 2012 at 3:03 pm

yeah, 2004-5 was such an 'unmitigated disaster'??!! LOL. Well hopefully this guy delivers us an unmitigated disaster in year 2 and a BT championship in year 1.

read the DI wrote on March 26, 2012 at 3:03 pm

Ancient history. Move on. You are living in Roman times.


Oh yeah, I forgot: You went to college in the 80s.


OKOMIS wrote on March 26, 2012 at 2:03 pm

 Cut the crap and don’t be phony, all of a sudden, your “Mr. Free Expression” oh unless you criticize Tate.. … you’re like a spoiled 5 year old… since Bruce Weber was fired.. deservedly by any standard, you’re gonna stand in the corner and hold your breath, stomp your feet and pout, and bad mouth his replacement… it appears Thomas offered Smart the world and he turned us down, that’s probably more an indictment of the shape of the program, not really Thomas’s fault and certainly not Groce’s fault.. .. I guess he could have put a gun to his head.. Groce is good pick and hopefully will turn the program around.. there’s no guarantee he will… I’m gonna at least give him and Beckman a shot.


houstonillini84 wrote on March 26, 2012 at 3:03 pm

OK, so thinking Groce is a mediocre, unexciting hire makes me a 5 year old child? Gotcha. Well lets hope UI has a lot of 5 year old children writing checks to the athletic department and supporting the program, LOL.

Second, who says I am not going to give them a shot? Of course i will give them a shot. If they are the coaches at UI then I will support their teams. But that doesnt mean I have to agree that Groce was the best coach for the job.

As far as Thomas, isnt it the AD's job to hire coaches? And if the best he can do for UI is coaches from the MAC, well sorry, but many of us are not impressed. ESPECIALLY in hoops where the prestige and potential is far higher. Sorry, but some of us would like a hire that creates excitement for the program, and these hires arent doing that. They may be good hires and they may not be, but they certainly dont add excitement. Both coaching searches were mishandled IMO, we let Sumlin play us and overpaid for Beckman, and now the best we can do in hoops is Groce? Really? Thats the very best coach in the country that UI can hire? With one year of real success in the MAC, and how he is suddenly the very best Thomas can manage to hire?

And again, while I like Bruce Weber I think he had to go, because he had lost the support of the fan base. So I am not sure what you are talking about. Bruce is gone, we are moving on, and I just want UI to hire the best possible coach. IMO we arent doing that, we are settling. We deserve better than Thomas and his infatuation with the MAC.

bluehavana wrote on March 26, 2012 at 4:03 pm

houston, you are going semi Loren Tate style there by saying Weber had to go because he'd lost support of others (the fan base).  If you personally feel his time was up, just say so, instead of using 3rd person references. 

I agree with you on Mike Thomas.  Most will disagree, but I don't fault Guenther for his head coaching hires.  Just held on too long with multiple people.  The Weber extension in 2009 is the real head scratcher.  But on MT, he cleaned house and is losing the PR battle by not having already secured a top rated replacement for Weber.  Some of that will go away upon making his hire (you and I have bantered about that before).  But, I agree, at least from public perception it appears he has taken a knife into a gun fight.  Why a search firm was needed to check and identify John Groce type coaches, I'll never know.   

houstonillini84 wrote on March 26, 2012 at 6:03 pm

Its not 3rd person at all. A program needs the support. So does its coach. When fans start not showing up to games because they are unhappy with the direction of the program, its time to make a change. As much as i wish otherwise, people lost faith in Bruce and the future of the program. I just dont see how we could have kept him and expected to sell a lot of seats at games.

The same applies to Zook. Folks had lost faith, they didnt believe in the football program. A change had to be made. I never thought Zook was a good coach but I thought he could be a great recruiter and that would be enough. But when that great recruiting turned into mediocre recruiting, it wasnt nearly good enough, people lost faith, and he had to go. Got to put fans in the seats in football, its the big revenue sport.

With Bruce I think he is a good coach. He had trouble adapting to high major recruiting. Some of that was because of Bruce and some of that was because of the nature of recruiting the elite players. He's a cleaner-than-clean guy in a not so clean business. Anyway, it took way too long to get recruiting going, and when he finally did, the results werent good enough, especially the collapse this year. People just got fed up. Time for a change.

I think Bruce will have success elsewhere. Maybe not elite high major success, but solid success. 

I agree about Thomas. But in the end, either the new coach will win, or he wont. If he wins all will be forgiven, over time. If he doesnt, it wont, the doubts heard now will only get louder. 

I think this is a HUGE crossroads for UI athletics. If this AD and his coaches fail, I really think UI is in big big trouble trying to have top football and basketball programs. I really think perceptions of the UI will decline, and those declines could be very hard to reverse, given the financial problems facing the state and the school and the neverending issues recruiting in Chicago. Lets hope this has a happy outcome. But given how important these hires are, IMO, I would have felt a LOT more comfortable if we had gotten bigger name hires, the odds would have been better.

Bear8287 wrote on March 26, 2012 at 6:03 pm

People cant be disappointed that a more exciting name couldnt be hired in basketball?

Has Illinois hired a new men's basketball coach?  Really?  I hadn't heard.

Good ol' Houston, wants to make sure that he's always ahead of the disappointment curve. He's going to start whining before the new coach is even officially announced (let alone coaches their first game at Illinois).


houstonillini84 wrote on March 26, 2012 at 7:03 pm

actually, if you go read the threads on the Illini forums, I am not ahead of anything. There seem to be a lot of disappointed people out there. In fact in the threads I looked at today, there were far more people voting thumbs down than thumbs up. Obviously we dont know how it will work out, we cant look in the crystal ball. But the feeling seems to be this not an exciting hire, not the way Smart would have been or a big name coach lured to UI.

And by the way, what exactly are people supposed to comment on, in the comments on an article about Groce appearing to be the likely pick? God forbid someone would comment on Groce following an article about.... Groce. LOL

Bear8287 wrote on March 26, 2012 at 8:03 pm

People cant be disappointed that a more exciting name couldnt be hired in basketball?

Maybe English isn't your native language.  "Couldn't be hired" would imply that a new coach has already been hired

Obviously we dont know how it will work out,...

But obviously that won't stop you from whining. LOL

Next thing you know, you'll probably go all Moonpie on us and complain about how everyone is shouting you down.

And by the way, what exactly are people supposed to comment on, in the comments on an article about Groce appearing to be the likely pick?

... almost there.  LOL


read the DI wrote on March 26, 2012 at 8:03 pm

Keep in mind Bear, Houston went to UofI in the 1980s. (At least I think he means 1980s. Maybe he means 1880s. Sometimes he sounds that out of it.)


houstonillini84 wrote on March 26, 2012 at 8:03 pm

The article implies that he will be hired unless something substantial changes. Therefore it's probably OK to discuss his suitability as a hire, isnt it? I mean, isnt that the whole point of the article and this thread, to discuss Groce as the likely hire for UI?

And that is some ridiculous logic you have there. "Obviously we dont know how it will work out" isnt the same as saying that all potential hires are equally likely to work out. I mean, they could hire you as coach, does that mean since we cant be sure what will happen, we cant discuss the suitability of hiring you to be coach? Under that line of reasoning, we should never discuss anything that isnt 100% certain, because we 'cant be sure what will happen'. Come on. Please dont say you went to UI with logic like that, it makes other alum look bad, LOL


Bear8287 wrote on March 27, 2012 at 10:03 am

The article implies that he will be hired unless something substantial changes.

Yes, it does.  Very good.  Not the same as the finality of your "couldn't be hired" comment. Does this mean that your reading comprehension has improved or was it just everyone else pointing this out for you?

And that is some ridiculous logic you have there.

LOL.  You're a funny guy Houston. That's quite a statement coming from someone who is whining about how terrible it is that we have a new coach that we haven't even officially hired yet, let alone has even coached a game at the University of Illinois.

Please dont say you went to UI with logic like that, it makes other alum look bad,

If you're saying that my use of logic is making you (other alumnus) look bad, oh well. It's important to keep up a good image of the quality of UI grads.

Please feel free to go on whining about what may happen as if it's a certainty.  No one is denying your freedom to do so (although some may question your logic).


Moonpie wrote on March 26, 2012 at 2:03 pm

Thomas FLEW to Indy? Was that even a 100-mile flight? Did they just taxi there along the interstate? A bit imperial sounding. Now, if that was the imperious Hogan -- sure.

Thomas could have at least borrowed the famed RAV 4 from Asmussen.

That said, Groce sounds fine. This ain't Duke. It ain't even VCU or Butler.

Oops, I was critical. Moses Tate and his Santorum legion of surrogates will be here soon!

Empire2Ed wrote on March 27, 2012 at 4:03 am

It didn't say he flew to Indy from C-U (from what I read anyway, If it did somewhere else guess I'm wrong). He may have been in Chicago or somewhere else, he is working on getting a women's coach too. In till he does something wrong I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. And we get it you don't like Tate. I don't care for him either but give it a rest every once in a while. It dillutes any other point you try to make. Just friendly advice.

Ballen11 wrote on March 26, 2012 at 2:03 pm

After watching all of the Ohio games in the NCAA tournament, I think that Groce would be a great assest to our basketball program. His team was disciplined, had the fundamentals down (like rebounding and taking care of the basketball which are two things our team doesn't have currently), and they continued to take it to the other team even if they were up, they never stalled, which is why VCU lost to Indiana and why the Illini lost a lot of games they shouldn't have this year. We needed a change here and I think that Groce could be just the person for that. Who cares if he is a mid major coach? How did Coach K get his start? Or Tom Izzo? Or Bill Self? Someone has to believe in him and give him a chance. Why not a program who needs a new start as badly as we do? 

houstonillini84 wrote on March 26, 2012 at 3:03 pm

then again, for every coach K, there are dozens of other guys who stumble when they reach the big leagues of college ball. Maybe we are hiring the next coach K, but more likely we're hiring the next guy to get fired from UI. It would have been nice to hire a big name that created excitement for the program. There is no reason that UI cant do better than the MAC.

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

Thad Matta-mid major before OSU; Bill Self-mid-major before U of I; Bo Ryan-D 3 coach before Wisconsin; Matt Painter-Purdue Asst and mid-major HC (SIU)

Croce's team led MAC in scoring-Mr Motion Offense went over 70 pts a grand total of 3 times during last 14 games this year and never exceeded 75.

John Croce was Matta Associate Head Coach at Ohio Stae.

What's not to like about this hire?

Hope we get him.

IlliniGator14 wrote on March 26, 2012 at 4:03 pm
Profile Picture

YOUR SARCASTIC REFERENCE TO "Mr. Motion Offense"  I read where Groce said he is Motion Offense and man-to-man guy.  Weber's run to the championship using "Self's players" was motion offense with man-to-man defense.  It's all about the players executing it.  At the end of the day; handling the ball, making good passes & hitting shots AND playing solid defense - that will win you a lot of games (and keep you employed).

walker wrote on March 26, 2012 at 5:03 pm

M T is in over his head.  BTW that's mike Thomas & not Moses Tate

Ballen11 wrote on March 26, 2012 at 5:03 pm

You are right; a coach like that doesn't come along everyday and sometimes it may never happen for a program. Who cares if the coach comes from the MAC, the Big 12, or the ACC as long as he can coach. It's like saying "he's not good enough because he comes from a little school". We are the University of Illinois, sure, but that doesn't mean we are too good to hire a coach from the MAC if he is a good coach. Saying we are too good for that is an attitude that I don't want to have because they made the tournament and we didn't. Actually quite a few "little" teams beat us and made either the NIT or the NCAA tournament.

houstonillini84 wrote on March 26, 2012 at 6:03 pm

The thing is, we dont know he will be a good coach. Its a crapshoot. But the less experience the guy has, the less track record, the less of a big name, the more of a crapshoot it is. I mean, we cant be sure that Tom Izzo would succeed at UI, but one would think the odds would be very high. With hires like Beckman and Groce, its much more of a roll of the dice than it needed to be. No one is saying that because they are from the MAC they cant be good coaches. Of course they might. Or might not. But there are a lot of names out there that would have been considerably less risky, and also by being more well-known, would have generated more a lot more excitement. These two guys strike me as very bland hires, with a lot of uncertainty. Thats why I am not so excited about the hires.

illini7074 wrote on March 26, 2012 at 8:03 pm

Houston, you are wearing out the, "big name," mantra.  Big names don't always make the best hires. Besides, there don't seem to be a whole lot of, "big names," lining up for the job.

houstonillini84 wrote on March 27, 2012 at 9:03 am

that isnt what people were saying when Bruce was here. Back then, the sky was the limit, we could get a big time coach to replace Bruce.

As far as what big names might be interested, who knows. They dont call me to let me know they are interested. But I think we could find a more exciting option that Groce. One of the complaints about RG's hires was that they were bland - family men, straight arrows, etc. I had hopes that with a new AD we would break that mold, and think outside the box a little. Find someone who could create some excitement and who carried enough weight to garner attention from the Chicago media. Instead, we get the same type of hires we got before, and instead of thinking outside the box, when someone turns him down, Thomas seems to have tunnel vision for Ohio and the MAC.

Beckman might turn out to be a good coach, and he might not, but he sure doesnt add instant excitement to the fan base. When we hired Mike White there was instant excitement on campus. Is it really so hard to find someone who could do that? Instead, we'll get usual 'wait and see' approach from the fans, and especially from Chicago. And Groce seems more of the same. A MAC pedigree in Jerry Tarkanian's body. IMO these are critical hires for UI - we are truly at a turning point in our football and basketball programs - and I for one would have been a lot more comfortable hiring less of an unknown and more excitement, especially when its both jobs at the same time.

read the DI wrote on March 27, 2012 at 10:03 am

Your memory fails you. Kruger and Self were much more highly regarded than Weber, both on campus and nationally. The problem was Guenther 1) didn't want any coach to be bigger than the program and 2) was tired of hiring basketball coaches. It was too much pressure for his pea brain. So after Self he hired the first guy who promised never to leave. And for the first time in Illinois history, a men's basketball left the program in worse shape than he received it.





OKOMIS wrote on March 26, 2012 at 8:03 pm


Head coaching record of Billy Donovan before Florida hired him to replace Krueger, from the mighty “southern conference”… here’s his Pre-Gator record.. no sweet 16’s no NCAA appearances.. not exactly a household name..

Marshall Thundering Herd (Southern Conference) (1994-1996)

1994-1995  Marshall 19-9     10-4   1st (North)

1995-1996  Marshall 17-11     8-6   3rd (North)

           Marshall         35-20   18-10


James Moore wrote on March 26, 2012 at 9:03 pm

Sounds like nobody likes Coach Groce. Is it a done deal? If not,how about Homer's boy

Scott Drew? No one wants to coach the Illini,its the BIG TEN,it's too tought. So M.T. is doing

the best he can.So Illini FANS, back him.

jruss62 wrote on March 27, 2012 at 9:03 am

Im changing my mind hire John Grose give him the backing he needs and lets just see what he can do.

All of the great coaches started as a no name so lets just see.

Tim Beckman seem to have the backing of the player so what do you say ILLINI Nation lets all get behind are coaches and cheer them not jeer them.


John Russell

Moline IL.