INDIANAPOLIS — The last minute of the game saw John Groce and the Illinois coaching staff forced to make some tough decisions, moves that have led plenty to second-guess. Should they have called timeout with less than 30 seconds left when Abrams was trapped and forced to heave up a three-pointer against the shot clock?
Should they have stayed in the 1-3-1 zone that stymied Michigan much of the second half on that last possession in which Jordan Morgan scored the game-winner and not switched to man-to-man?
Groce explained his thought process afterward.
“Eventually you’ve got to let it go. It is what it is. You can second-guess yourself on everything. When I was early on in my coaching career, I probably would do that more,” Groce said after falling to 8-1 in games as the Illinois coach in games decided by one or two points. “Bill Belichick always says hindsight is always 20/20. As long as decisions are well-thought out and they’re educated and they’re communicated amongst the staff and players — a guy just asked me, ‘Do you wish you would have gone zone on Morgan’s bucket?’ I do now.
“We went man-to-man for a reason because we didn’t want to give a shooter a look, and they scored. You can pick apart that stuff until you’re blue in the face. I wish I would have called timeout on the one possession. We didn’t because we wanted to face man-to-man and they had been switching to zone, so that was well-thought out. It just didn’t happen. Now that I see the shot we got, yeah, I would like to have called timeout. You can second-guess yourself on a lot of things.”