Catching up with ... Tyler Griffey

CHAMPAIGN — When it comes to academics, the Illinois basketball staff doesn't worry about Tyler Griffey.

The senior is a kinesiology major. Because he can, Griffey recently added a minor in leadership studies. "It looks good on a resume, from what I've heard," he said.

So when John Groce informed Griffey he needed to lift his grade in one of his more difficult classes — human anatomy — Griffey wasn't offended. Even if it came in front of his teammates.

"Our team GPA was about a 3.1 (for the summer)," Griffey said. "He let us know I had to pick it up. It's nothing personal against me. I'm actually really proud that my teammates picked me up and helped us get a 3.1. I liked that, that he wasn't afraid to point it out."

(It's worth noting not many scholarship athletes attempt a human anatomy class in the first place. Or that Griffey earned a B in another portion of the class.)

The incident was part of what Griffey called "the transparency" of the first-year coaching staff. "Nothing is hidden," he said. "It's all out there in the open. There's no guessing."

Several players have commented on aspects of that transparency. Coaches recently presented a manual to each player and staffer. It's thick and reads like an employee handbook.

There's the team motto. Team goals and how they will reach them. The history of the program ("So we know who came before us," Griffey said.) Defensive philosophy. Academic obligations. Nutritional suggestions. It's all in the manual.

Players also were given orange wristbands with the date 3/19/13 — the first day of the 2013 NCAA tournament. Illinois expects to be playing.

Whether it's a player, a member of the support staff, even a reporter, the same question pops up almost daily after a coaching change: What do you think of the new coach?

Griffey gets it all the time. He got it again at Friday's volleyball match at Huff Hall.

"I described it to someone: 'It's like they're running a business and Coach Groce is the CEO,' " he said. "They've included us as the employees. There's incredible detail in what they do."

And the transparency means there's no guesswork involved. Players and staffers know exactly what's expected of them.

"If you've got a question and coaches aren't around, go to the manual," Griffey said.

-Paul Klee

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JimOATSfan wrote on September 05, 2012 at 3:09 pm

What amazes me when reading this post, is that a basketball manual has NOT been standard-operating-procedure for the past 20+ years.

College students live & breath books. Welcome to the 20(?)th century. Cheers.