John Groce is always prepared. From his meticulous scouting reports to practice plans and having his team ready to play a game whether the tip time is 10 a.m. or 9:15 p.m., Groce is always poised. But a little more than two weeks after his team’s season came to an end with a one-point loss to Clemson in the NIT, Illinois’ basketball coach has had zero preparation for his next endeavor.
A look back at the highs and lows of Illinois’ 2013-14 season.
Jordan Caroline left Champaign in 2012 for Orlando, Fla., to enroll at Montverde Academy, which boasts a powerhouse boys’ basketball program. Since then, the former Champaign Central High School big man has played for teams that won consecutive national titles, most recently on April 5 in the Dick’s Sporting Goods High School National Tournament in New York City.
There were no excuses. None. Nada.
Weather? Near perfect. Sunny skies. Billowy clouds. Temperatures in the 70s. A nitpicker might point to the strong gusts of wind. Hey, this is East Central Illinois, where the winds come sweeping down the plains.
Having witnessed so many unanticipated turns Saturday, you should not expect a knowledgeable prognostication of what’s likely 140 days hence when Illinois hosts Youngstown State.
But it’s our job to try. First, the positives from the annual Orange-Blue football game:
Beat writer Matt Daniels breaks down the good and the bad from Saturday's spring game.
CHAMPAIGN — Wes Lunt didn’t enter the spring game until one quarter had elapsed.
The first pass the Oklahoma State transfer made at Illinois wearing anything besides his red practice jersey wasn’t pretty.
Defensive tackle Jarrod Clements deflected the throw at the line of scrimmage. Lunt’s second pass wasn’t one he’d write home about, either.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Illinois gymnast Jordan Valdez, who entered the NCAA Championships ranked No. 1 in the nation in high bar, remained at the top of the heap on the night it mattered most.
CHAMPAIGN — Illinois lost a play-making linebacker with Jonathan Brown's departure.
Perhaps they have found a new one.
T.J. Neal left a solid impression on his teammates and coaches after Saturday's spring game.
Neal finished with six tackles, including two for loss, on the victorious Blue squad.