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Old Nov 15, 2012, 11:10 PM   #1
illinifan1515
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With the fall recruiting season behind us, I've been thinking about our coaching search. I believe we ended up with the best fit for our program in Coach Groce. But I'm curious as to how the search went down exactly. Who were the coaches that we actually contacted? Who had interest? Were we really that close with Shake Smart?
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Old Nov 15, 2012, 11:21 PM   #2
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I have heard through the grapevine that the Shaka thing was dead almost as soon as it started, but that the Stevens thing was very, very serious and that it was more of a mutual decision than him just saying no. This same source loves Groce and thinks he'll do whatever it takes to win.
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Old Nov 16, 2012, 01:25 AM   #3
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Get back to me in 3-4 years.

To date, Groce has done a great job from a PR and recruiting perspective. He appears to have won over the returning players. Now we get to see how he does from a game strategy and player development perspective.

The strengths of Groce when we hired him were his charisma/energy, proven ability to recruit at a high level (for Matta), and tournament success. The knock was that he had a mediocre regular season conference record at Ohio (see below.) Had Groce not made a tournament run this past year, he wouldn't have been remotely in the running for the Illinois job. If Ohio didn't squeak out a 1-point victory over Akron in the MAC tournament last year, they would have been watching the big dance on TV.

While coaching and teaching always matter, I think recruiting matters more at this level. Media relations and public speaking are also critically important for the face of a high profile program. For those reasons, a decent MAC regular-season coach at Ohio with a penchant for winning tournament games might turn out to be a great hire for Illinois. (Conversely, the more successful MVC coach we just fired got behind the 8-ball at Illinois because he struggled to recruit and deal with the media pressure.)

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Groce's 34-30 record in the Mid-American Conference in four years certainly isn't an eye-opener in what is a far inferior mid-major conference in comparison to the Missouri Valley and Horizon League. The fact Ohio, which is considered by many to be the best job in the conference, has never finished higher than third in its division of the MAC under Groce opens questions. What it does show is just how much athletic directors at high-major schools continue to look at NCAA Tournament success.

And it's not as if he rebuilt a struggling Ohio program or one that was even a middling MAC team. The Bobcats weren't too shabby prior to Groce's arrival, winning 20, 19, 19 and 21 games in the four years prior to his arrival in Athens, while actually winning 40 MAC games in those previous four years in comparison to Groce's 34 MAC victories in his four seasons on the job.

http://blogs.suntimes.com/hoopsreport/2012/03/

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Old Nov 16, 2012, 05:57 AM   #4
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I think recruiting is much more important in basketball, simply because one player can change a team more so than in football. Because of this, Groce gets a solid A for the job he's done so far, but it's still very very early to judge his performance.

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Old Nov 16, 2012, 05:58 AM   #5
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Get back to me in 3-4 years.

To date, Groce has done a great job from a PR and recruiting perspective. He appears to have won over the returning players. Now we get to see how he does from a game strategy and player development perspective.

The strengths of Groce when we hired him were his charisma/energy, proven ability to recruit at a high level (for Matta), and tournament success. The knock was that he had a mediocre regular season conference record at Ohio (see below.) Had Groce not made a tournament run this past year, he wouldn't have been remotely in the running for the Illinois job. If Ohio didn't squeak out a 1-point victory over Akron in the MAC tournament last year, they would have been watching the big dance on TV.

While coaching and teaching always matter, I think recruiting matters more at this level. Media relations and public speaking are also critically important for the face of a high profile program. For those reasons, a decent MAC regular-season coach at Ohio with a penchant for winning tournament games might turn out to be a great hire for Illinois. (Conversely, the more successful MVC coach we just fired got behind the 8-ball at Illinois because he struggled to recruit and deal with the media pressure.)
GHD, you remain among the most skeptical about Groce -- perhaps giving the board a needed dose of reality. But I would have agreed with you more before the season began.

I agree Groce's game strategy has yet to be tested -- except for keeping the team focused so as to retain a wide margin of victory. Last season (and maybe even before then) we also built up large leads but frittered them away -- even against weak competition. We've improved in that area. It's certainly true that he has yet to prove here that he can put together the right Xs and Os to pull out a tight game.

What I would most argue is on teaching. With his stint at Ohio, many here interpreted the tourney runs (conf and NCAA) after middling overall season records as evidence of that -- or at the very least, "team development" -- which might be more important.

On individual development, would you not agree individual skills so far have looked much improved? I believe the reporters (Marcus Jackson?) have said they have. Just a few examples: Tyler's new ability to put the ball on the floor? Tracy's better arc and accuracy on his shot? Fewer errant passes? COMPLETED fast breaks? Joe's better three-point shot?

I grant you these improvements (which most have noticed) have come against weak opponents. But (1) we haven't seen them in past years with the same caliber of opposition and (2) some are independent of opposition (higher arc on TA's shot, eg).
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Old Nov 16, 2012, 06:40 AM   #6
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Well in watching Butler play last year and the first few games this year I am very unimpressed with the style that Brad Stevens plays. He had great players in Howard, Haywood, and Mack who fit his system perfectly. Slow methodic offense with suffocating defense. Sounds a lot like a past coach from UI. I am happy that the decision for him to not come to Illinois was mutual because it shows the program was really looking in moving in a different more exciting direction. Stevens may be a better coach than Weber it would be more low scoring close games that drove fans crazy. This is one miss that seems to be working out for UI. Also, at the time I would have loved a two time NC runner up coach to be the Illini coach but Groce has changed my mind.
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Old Nov 16, 2012, 06:43 AM   #7
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GHD, you remain among the most skeptical about Groce -- perhaps giving the board a needed dose of reality. But I would have agreed with you more before the season began.

I agree Groce's game strategy has yet to be tested -- except for keeping the team focused so as to retain a wide margin of victory. Last season (and maybe even before then) we also built up large leads but frittered them away -- even against weak competition. We've improved in that area. It's certainly true that he has yet to prove here that he can put together the right Xs and Os to pull out a tight game.

What I would most argue is on teaching. With his stint at Ohio, many here interpreted the tourney runs (conf and NCAA) after middling overall season records as evidence of that -- or at the very least, "team development" -- which might be more important.

On individual development, would you not agree individual skills so far have looked much improved? I believe the reporters (Marcus Jackson?) have said they have. Just a few examples: Tyler's new ability to put the ball on the floor? Tracy's better arc and accuracy on his shot? Fewer errant passes? COMPLETED fast breaks? Joe's better three-point shot?

I grant you these improvements (which most have noticed) have come against weak opponents. But (1) we haven't seen them in past years with the same caliber of opposition and (2) some are independent of opposition (higher arc on TA's shot, eg).
Good analysis in my book. The early indicators are very good. They could be derailed by better competition, but we have reasons to feel optimistic.
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Old Nov 16, 2012, 07:49 AM   #8
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GHD, you remain among the most skeptical about Groce -- perhaps giving the board a needed dose of reality. But I would have agreed with you more before the season began.
Actually, I'm fairly optimistic about Groce. In many ways he reminds me of Self, a guy who is a capable coach but terrific at recruiting, selling his program the public, and keeping his team pointed in the right direction.

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I agree Groce's game strategy has yet to be tested -- except for keeping the team focused so as to retain a wide margin of victory. Last season (and maybe even before then) we also built up large leads but frittered them away -- even against weak competition. We've improved in that area.
It is simply MUCH too early to reach a conclusion in this area. And we also don't know what Groce's weakness is as a coach. Why did Ohio lose so many conference games? The downside to being aggressive is that sometimes the guys are going to jack up a lot of bad shots, miss those shots, and we are going to lose.

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What I would most argue is on teaching. With his stint at Ohio, many here interpreted the tourney runs (conf and NCAA) after middling overall season records as evidence of that -- or at the very least, "team development" -- which might be more important.
Post season success could be due to Groce's ability to keep guys playing loose, confident and aggressive under pressure. It could be due to having a player who performs exceptionally well under pressure (DJ Cooper.) It could just be due to luck. Or it could be some combination of the above. With such an extremely small sample of games, it would be very difficult to claim luck wasn't involved with any certainty.

Let me also point out that if Groce did such a good job of teaching at Ohio, why didn't he teach his teams to win more regular season games?

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On individual development, would you not agree individual skills so far have looked much improved? I believe the reporters (Marcus Jackson?) have said they have. Just a few examples: Tyler's new ability to put the ball on the floor? Tracy's better arc and accuracy on his shot? Fewer errant passes? COMPLETED fast breaks? Joe's better three-point shot?
You do realize that players improved under Weber, right? Particularly from their freshmen to sophomore years. Has Tracy improved more than he would under Weber? Bertrand already improved more than I would have thought under Weber, so is his improvement this year extraordinary? Will we be able to run against good competition? Will Griffey be able to hold his own defensively against good PF? Will he be able to score when going against a guy punching him in the nose defensively? It is way to early to start the end zone dance with this team.

But I do agree that Groce has done a better job of selling his player development, and that is critical for recruiting and selling the program. By the end of the Weber era there was a big, black cloud hanging over the program, and it is a heck of a lot more fun with the new guy for players and fans a like. I would expect players to play better in this environment. But we need to keep some perspective with all of this talk about skills development: (1) everyone was saying EXACTLY the same thing when Weber took over from Self; and (2) DJ Cooper never learned to shoot with three years under Groce's tutelage.

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Old Nov 16, 2012, 08:47 AM   #9
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Actually, I'm fairly optimistic about Groce. In many ways he reminds me of Self, a guy who is a capable coach but terrific at recruiting, selling his program the public, and keeping his team pointed in the right direction.


It is simply MUCH too early to reach a conclusion in this area. And we also don't know what Groce's weakness is as a coach. Why did Ohio lose so many conference games? The downside to being aggressive is that sometimes the guys are going to jack up a lot of bad shots, miss those shots, and we are going to lose.


Post season success could be due to Groce's ability to keep guys playing loose, confident and aggressive under pressure. It could be due to having a player who performs exceptionally well under pressure (DJ Cooper.) It could just be due to luck. Or it could be some combination of the above. With such an extremely small sample of games, it would be very difficult to claim luck wasn't involved with any certainty.

Let me also point out that if Groce did such a good job of teaching at Ohio, why didn't he teach his teams to win more regular season games?


You do realize that players improved under Weber, right? Particularly from their freshmen to sophomore years. Has Tracy improved more than he would under Weber? Bertrand already improved more than I would have thought under Weber, so is his improvement this year extraordinary? Will we be able to run against good competition? Will Griffey be able to hold his own defensively against good PF? Will he be able to score when going against a guy punching him in the nose defensively? It is way to early to start the end zone dance with this team.

But I do agree that Groce has done a better job of selling his player development, and that is critical for recruiting and selling the program. By the end of the Weber era there was a big, black cloud hanging over the program, and it is a heck of a lot more fun with the new guy for players and fans a like. I would expect players to play better in this environment. But we need to keep some perspective with all of this talk about skills development: (1) everyone was saying EXACTLY the same thing when Weber took over from Self; and (2) DJ Cooper never learned to shoot with three years under Groce's tutelage.
I know (and applaud) that you are attempting to introduce a balanced perspective (good!). Your interpretative framework seems slightly off-base to me, but to each his (her) own. I think you're overlooking the fundamentals. Groce has more anticipatory vision and intelligence than Weber, who found it difficult to adjust to shifts in game approach and player psychology.

I'm not a Weber hater (I wish him well), but I have noticed (particularly in his remarks since leaving Illinois) that he has a fundamental character flaw--blaming others--that withered the Illinois program (and stunted player development) over time. Groce, on the other hand, seems to be eager to learn from self-assessment. This is supported by his teams' in-season improvement and March peaking. Groce is a learner, which means he's a better coach now than he was two years or seven months ago. The same is not true for Weber, at Illinois at least.

We're riding a faster horse now. I have no idea where it will take us. As Einstein said, I'd rather be an optimist who's wrong than a pessimist who's right.

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Old Nov 16, 2012, 08:48 AM   #10
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While coaching and teaching always matter, I think recruiting matters more at this level.
The one exception that comes to mind would be Rick Barnes at Texas.
He's had a lot of really good recruits pass through that program but hasn't ever won anything.

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Old Nov 16, 2012, 09:16 AM   #11
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Get back to me in 3-4 years.

To date, Groce has done a great job from a PR and recruiting perspective. He appears to have won over the returning players. Now we get to see how he does from a game strategy and player development perspective.
Agree completely. Right now Groce is enjoying a honeymoon of overly exhuberant support IMO. I hope it's warranted.

The flip side of this is Beckman who is off to an awful start. I'm not ready to give up on him but he's got an uphill battle. It's going to take a few years before either coach is deemed a success or failure.
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Old Nov 16, 2012, 09:34 AM   #12
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Actually, I'm fairly optimistic about Groce. In many ways he reminds me of Self, a guy who is a capable coach but terrific at recruiting, selling his program the public, and keeping his team pointed in the right direction.


It is simply MUCH too early to reach a conclusion in this area. And we also don't know what Groce's weakness is as a coach. Why did Ohio lose so many conference games? The downside to being aggressive is that sometimes the guys are going to jack up a lot of bad shots, miss those shots, and we are going to lose.


Post season success could be due to Groce's ability to keep guys playing loose, confident and aggressive under pressure. It could be due to having a player who performs exceptionally well under pressure (DJ Cooper.) It could just be due to luck. Or it could be some combination of the above. With such an extremely small sample of games, it would be very difficult to claim luck wasn't involved with any certainty.

Let me also point out that if Groce did such a good job of teaching at Ohio, why didn't he teach his teams to win more regular season games?


You do realize that players improved under Weber, right? Particularly from their freshmen to sophomore years. Has Tracy improved more than he would under Weber? Bertrand already improved more than I would have thought under Weber, so is his improvement this year extraordinary? Will we be able to run against good competition? Will Griffey be able to hold his own defensively against good PF? Will he be able to score when going against a guy punching him in the nose defensively? It is way to early to start the end zone dance with this team.

But I do agree that Groce has done a better job of selling his player development, and that is critical for recruiting and selling the program. By the end of the Weber era there was a big, black cloud hanging over the program, and it is a heck of a lot more fun with the new guy for players and fans a like. I would expect players to play better in this environment. But we need to keep some perspective with all of this talk about skills development: (1) everyone was saying EXACTLY the same thing when Weber took over from Self; and (2) DJ Cooper never learned to shoot with three years under Groce's tutelage.
I do some parallels with Self but don't see him being quite as good a salesman but based on the little we have seen, I do think he is a little better on the coaching end.

The other thing that I don't think can be stressed enough is how Groce seems to have a gift for developing confidence in kids. Unfortunately, I believe Bruce was exactly the opposite.
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Old Nov 16, 2012, 09:40 AM   #13
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So far SureShot is the only poster who has even responded to the questions posed by Illinifan1515 in the initial post. Everyone else seems to think this is a review of Groces coaching job 2 games into the season. 15 posts in and a few of you have managed to get some BW bashes in, (yay ) I doubt Illinifan1515's intent was to discuss our former coach. Does anyone have any information on the 'behind the scenes' dealings that occurred during the search leading up to the day the day Groce was hired??

I got nothing.
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Old Nov 16, 2012, 09:47 AM   #14
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So far SureShot is the only poster who has even responded to the questions posed by Illinifan1515 in the initial post. Everyone else seems to think this is a review of Groces coaching job 2 games into the season. 15 posts in and a few of you have managed to get some BW bashes in, (yay ) I doubt Illinifan1515's intent was to discuss our former coach. Does anyone have any information on the 'behind the scenes' dealings that occurred during the search leading up to the day the day Groce was hired??

I got nothing.
I'm not HeartofaChampion, and perhaps he can correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe he's stated that his source told him that Shaka was all set to come to CU, until a last-minute change of heart kept him at VCU.

I know that goes against SureShot's claim, but who really knows what happened behind the scenes.

I'm actually very curious as to whether we pursued (or maybe just reached out to) guys like Reggie Theus, Anthony Grant, Lorenzo Romar (OrangeFever shout-out), Buzz Williams, etc.
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Old Nov 16, 2012, 09:54 AM   #15
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I'm not HeartofaChampion, and perhaps he can correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe he's stated that his source told him that Shaka was all set to come to CU, until a last-minute change of heart kept him at VCU.

I know that goes against SureShot's claim, but who really knows what happened behind the scenes.

I'm actually very curious as to whether we pursued (or maybe just reached out to) guys like Reggie Theus, Anthony Grant, Lorenzo Romar (OrangeFever shout-out), Buzz Williams, etc.
That is what I remember on Smart as well. I too wonder if there was really anyone outside of Stephens, Smart, and Groce that got even beyond the 'feeler' stage.
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Old Nov 16, 2012, 11:24 AM   #16
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That is what I remember on Smart as well. I too wonder if there was really anyone outside of Stephens, Smart, and Groce that got even beyond the 'feeler' stage.
I would hope so. If we only got to the feeler stage with a handful of midmajor coaches (not the coaches themselves, their schools) then either our search was too specific or no high-major coaches would give us the time of day.

Both are a pretty poor reflection on the program.
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Old Nov 16, 2012, 11:45 AM   #17
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I know (and applaud) that you are attempting to introduce a balanced perspective (good!). Your interpretative framework seems slightly off-base to me, but to each his (her) own. I think you're overlooking the fundamentals. Groce has more anticipatory vision and intelligence than Weber, who found it difficult to adjust to shifts in game approach and player psychology.
I think you're still basing your entire opinion off of two games you've seen Groce coach. He has more anticipatory vision? He's more intelligent? You can see this from two games coached at Illinois?

If you were to compare Weber's midmajor days to Groce's, I think I would take Weber's in a heartbeat. That doesn't mean groce isn't going to be great, it means a sample size of 2 is insane when trying to form an overall opinion.
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Old Nov 16, 2012, 11:58 AM   #18
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I'm not HeartofaChampion, and perhaps he can correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe he's stated that his source told him that Shaka was all set to come to CU, until a last-minute change of heart kept him at VCU.

I know that goes against SureShot's claim, but who really knows what happened behind the scenes.

I'm actually very curious as to whether we pursued (or maybe just reached out to) guys like Reggie Theus, Anthony Grant, Lorenzo Romar (OrangeFever shout-out), Buzz Williams, etc.
HOC is the guy to ask on this one. Hopefully he'll post some info, but keep in mind that some private coversations about the position were never meant for the public to hear.

Smart was going to take the job but changed his mind at the last minute. His wife did not want to leave the place where they were settled and comfortable. Stevens listened because of the money offered, but he had doubts about recruiting Chicago. Theus was promising to deliver recruits. Too slimey. Grant wasn't going anywhere and Buzz had too many behind the scenes issues at Marquette to pursue to Illinois. I never heard anything definite on Romar.
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Old Nov 16, 2012, 12:26 PM   #19
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Got a class to teach in a few minutes, but to summarize (we had some major threads about this back in March), SS and MT discussed the job, SS told him the minimum contract offer he would accept, they negotiated, SS thought hard about it and then turned down UI. The coaching search thread has all the details.

MT met on a Sunday with BS a few days later and discussed the position with him but they couldn't reach agreement. BS had some misgivings about whether he could be successful here, particularly recruiting Chicago. (BS is a lot like BW in coaching philosophy and recruiting style, I'm told.) MT wasn't as sold on BS as he was on SS, either, perhaps for that reason and because MT became intrigued by JG particularly after the SS talks broke down. The BS situation was more shrouded in secrecy, probably because someone leaked SS's initial demand, thus blowing MT's hopes for a quiet coaching search.

No one else was a serious candidate, I was told, though my cousin's source (who now works for an athletic facility at a school that isn't heavily in debt and actually gives its employees annual raises) insisted that Ben Howland contacted MT early on, had a long meeting with him by phone about the position and was very interested in the job, though MT ultimately decided not to go that route. (The latter is info I was asked not to share at the time of the search.)

Hope this helps.
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Old Nov 16, 2012, 01:06 PM   #20
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HOC is the guy to ask on this one. Hopefully he'll post some info, but keep in mind that some private coversations about the position were never meant for the public to hear.

Smart was going to take the job but changed his mind at the last minute. His wife did not want to leave the place where they were settled and comfortable. Stevens listened because of the money offered, but he had doubts about recruiting Chicago. Theus was promising to deliver recruits. Too slimey. Grant wasn't going anywhere and Buzz had too many behind the scenes issues at Marquette to pursue to Illinois. I never heard anything definite on Romar.
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Got a class to teach in a few minutes, but to summarize (we had some major threads about this back in March), SS and MT discussed the job, SS told him the minimum contract offer he would accept, they negotiated, SS thought hard about it and then turned down UI. The coaching search thread has all the details.

MT met on a Sunday with BS a few days later and discussed the position with him but they couldn't reach agreement. BS had some misgivings about whether he could be successful here, particularly recruiting Chicago. (BS is a lot like BW in coaching philosophy and recruiting style, I'm told.) MT wasn't as sold on BS as he was on SS, either, perhaps for that reason and because MT became intrigued by JG particularly after the SS talks broke down. The BS situation was more shrouded in secrecy, probably because someone leaked SS's initial demand, thus blowing MT's hopes for a quiet coaching search.

No one else was a serious candidate, I was told, though my cousin's source (who now works for an athletic facility at a school that isn't heavily in debt and actually gives its employees annual raises) insisted that Ben Howland contacted MT early on, had a long meeting with him by phone about the position and was very interested in the job, though MT ultimately decided not to go that route. (The latter is info I was asked not to share at the time of the search.)

Hope this helps.

Thanks guys, pretty much summed up everything I wanted to know . The Ben Howland thing kind of surprising to me.

Do you guys think Coach Groce would have been been contacted had he not made the sweet 16 run?
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Old Nov 16, 2012, 01:18 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by HeartofaChampion View Post
Got a class to teach in a few minutes, but to summarize (we had some major threads about this back in March), SS and MT discussed the job, SS told him the minimum contract offer he would accept, they negotiated, SS thought hard about it and then turned down UI. The coaching search thread has all the details.

MT met on a Sunday with BS a few days later and discussed the position with him but they couldn't reach agreement. BS had some misgivings about whether he could be successful here, particularly recruiting Chicago. (BS is a lot like BW in coaching philosophy and recruiting style, I'm told.) MT wasn't as sold on BS as he was on SS, either, perhaps for that reason and because MT became intrigued by JG particularly after the SS talks broke down. The BS situation was more shrouded in secrecy, probably because someone leaked SS's initial demand, thus blowing MT's hopes for a quiet coaching search.

No one else was a serious candidate, I was told, though my cousin's source (who now works for an athletic facility at a school that isn't heavily in debt and actually gives its employees annual raises) insisted that Ben Howland contacted MT early on, had a long meeting with him by phone about the position and was very interested in the job, though MT ultimately decided not to go that route. (The latter is info I was asked not to share at the time of the search.)

Hope this helps.
Thanks for helping HOC. Congrats to your cousin's source for finding a better opportunity (even if it means less info for us Illini maniacs!). If the bolded is true, I think we can safely say that MT dodged bullet with that one. I actually liked the idea of Ben Howland, until that SI article came out last Spring. Then pretty much everyone was saying "no thanks" lol

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Old Nov 16, 2012, 01:20 PM   #22
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For the record, the source I heard what I heard from is someone close to Stevens, so maybe it's a bit of a he-said-she-said. But I heard the job was right, the money was right, BS and MT just didn't see eye-to-eye on the way the program was going to be run with Chicago recruiting and the like so they both just sort of walked away.

It sure seems like adding all of these threads of information up, that Mike Thomas was going around making very clear to potential candidates that he wanted someone that would be active in opening up recruiting markets for us. Which is interesting, I dunno exactly how I feel about that.
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Old Nov 16, 2012, 01:21 PM   #23
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Was this thread started by a troll. I'd rather leave this off topic because it almost seemed like talking about our HC during he season became a distraction for our program. #ILLINOISLOYALTYHASREACH
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Old Nov 16, 2012, 01:29 PM   #24
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Was this thread started by a troll. I'd rather leave this off topic because it almost seemed like talking about our HC during he season became a distraction for our program. #ILLINOISLOYALTYHASREACH
It was not. I was just simply curious about some of the details and didn't want to scroll through hundreds of pages in the coaching search thread.

Also I'm not sure how a discussion on a message board could be a distraction to our program :rolleyes:
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Old Nov 16, 2012, 01:38 PM   #25
illynifan34
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Location: Cincinnati, OH
Posts: 7,882
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sure Shot View Post
For the record, the source I heard what I heard from is someone close to Stevens, so maybe it's a bit of a he-said-she-said. But I heard the job was right, the money was right, BS and MT just didn't see eye-to-eye on the way the program was going to be run with Chicago recruiting and the like so they both just sort of walked away.

It sure seems like adding all of these threads of information up, that Mike Thomas was going around making very clear to potential candidates that he wanted someone that would be active in opening up recruiting markets for us. Which is interesting, I dunno exactly how I feel about that.
The BS info you and HOC contributed adds up to be pretty much the exact same story from both sides, so that's easy to believe.

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