Groce won't tone down passion
CHAMPAIGN — Following a game in which he was assessed a technical foul late in the second half after throwing his suit jacket, Illinois coach John Groce admitted Wednesday he crossed the line between showing emotion and being emotional during Saturday’s loss to Michigan State.
“I want our guys, our players, I want our staff, I want my kids to understand that to find that balance is important. I didn’t think I did that great the other day,” Groce said.
The second-year Illinois coach, whose team plays at No. 17 Ohio State on Thursday (6 p.m., ESPN), said also that he’s not going to change his ways completely going forward.
“I think at the end of the day, for me, I’m gonna be who I am. For me, my entire life, passion, energy, emotion is a positive thing. As long as it’s positive, I think it’s great,” Groce said. “What I don’t want to do, though, is I’m not that guy that just sits there and says nothing. That’s not me. That’s not who I am.”
In the days since the outburst against the Spartans, Groce has heard from folks who approved of his sideline antics and those who thought he should handle himself with better decorum. The 42-year-old sought advice from his wife, Allison, and father, Larry, about his sideline demeanor.
“I trust them because they know me better than anybody. I got some good insights from them. It’s important,” said Groce, who used his Twitter account Wednesday morning to express the lessons he’s learned from the incident.
The Illinois players and Groce have spoken with one another about how to handle themselves in adverse situations in the days since Saturday’s game. Never one to shy away from using every opportunity to teach life lessons to his team, Groce used his own situation as an example.
“We’re very real with one another. We communicate in truth here. We don’t dodge things. We’re not a back-door type of organization; we come through the front door,” Groce said. “I tell those guys all the time, ‘You’ve got to man up, take responsibility, own things’ — and I’m no different. I can’t ask them to do that and I don’t do that. That would be awfully hypocritical.”