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Illinois off to hot start no one saw coming

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Old Nov 30, 2012, 08:28 PM   #1
Dan
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Groce has gone to great lengths to say he won't judge these players by that collapse. But he believes that what they went through is a source of strength.

"They've seen so much, these guys," he said.

If Weber was the good-guy coach who slowly lost the team, Groce is the energetic newcomer who came to town to help them pick themselves up again. It isn't just the positive approach, the players say. Groce says he's tough on them, particularly Paul, when he needs to be.

"I was on him in the film session now. I mean, in was on him," Groce said. "And that sends a message to the other guys 'Whoa, like man, he's going at him, man, everybody's held accountable around here.'"

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Good vibrations coming from Illinois basketball

Look and listen for yourself and you'll discover that Groce is not afraid to say how much he likes these kids.

"I'm the luckiest guy in the world," he said after the 75-62 victory against the Yellow Jackets. "I have some older guys who really care about the game, care about our team. They want to be really good and they let our staff coach them and get on them, which for seniors is huge.

"We're really thankful for that."

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The Illini Get Together

"I tell our players all the time -- it starts with the staff -- 'Regardless of what's said, written, the disposition people have, believe it or not, guys, you're not scum,'" Groce said. "'At the same time, regardless of how much they pat you on the back, believe it or not, you are not a rock star. It's somewhere in the middle.'"

Groce has also attempted to establish core values for Illinois, traits he hopes will be the hallmark of his teams: unity, commitment, integrity and passion.

"What brings all of that together is the passion," Groce said. "That gives you the energy, the inspiration and the drive and the enthusiasm that's necessary to accomplish special things."

http://thequad.blogs.nytimes.com/201...-get-together/
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Old Nov 30, 2012, 08:37 PM   #2
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"Illinois off to hot start no one saw coming"


I did.

But I thought the football team was going to be decent this year too.
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Old Nov 30, 2012, 08:41 PM   #3
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What I love about this year is that we've played pretty great so far, but JG's teams generally get better as the season goes on, so I think we'll be playing even better come BTT time.

This team was built for tournaments, so I think we could do some damage in the BTT and probably even in the NCAA tourney.
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Old Nov 30, 2012, 09:07 PM   #4
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As long as this team remembers we haven't arrived yet we will be fine.

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Old Nov 30, 2012, 09:28 PM   #5
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What I love about this year is that we've played pretty great so far, but JG's teams generally get better as the season goes on, so I think we'll be playing even better come BTT time.

This team was built for tournaments, so I think we could do some damage in the BTT and probably even in the NCAA tourney.
+1...Groce is a tourney coach, can't wait to see what this team can do come tourney time
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Old Nov 30, 2012, 10:24 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by IbanezHRC View Post
"Illinois off to hot start no one saw coming"


I did.

But I thought the football team was going to be decent this year too.
Me too. However, I also expect them to take their lumps in the B10. Hopefully we have some special started here now.
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Old Nov 30, 2012, 10:35 PM   #7
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We all know it's coming. When the B1G hits it's going to sting. I think that might work in our favor actually. The team knows they're going to be underdogs. I think we're going to play really well as underdogs, and I don't think Groce is going to let this team buy into the press clippings. This team remembers all too well the second half to last season. We're going to get monkey-stomped a few times but we're going to look awfully dangerous to just about everyone. I wouldn't look past us. I just hope we can stay competitive and hover around .500 - that'd be nice. I'm very interested to see Groce wants us to respond to some big 4-5 play with some serious effort to post against us. I'm hoping we see some effort to take advantage and get us to the line a LOT and push into their bench.
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Old Nov 30, 2012, 10:38 PM   #8
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So what is everyone thinking now? Will we have another collapse in B1G play after a hot start? Will we make the NCAA tournament? NIT?

Personally I think we could finish in the top 15 if the team just keeps fighting and playing hard like they have been. But I think I wouldn't be the only one to say I am worried we will stop making shots and start struggling badly eventually.
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Old Nov 30, 2012, 10:50 PM   #9
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So what is everyone thinking now? Will we have another collapse in B1G play after a hot start? Will we make the NCAA tournament? NIT?

Personally I think we could finish in the top 15 if the team just keeps fighting and playing hard like they have been. But I think I wouldn't be the only one to say I am worried we will stop making shots and start struggling badly eventually.
I don't think we'll go undefeated, but I don't think we'll have the same collapse we had last year either. I think .500 in BiG play would would be great.
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Old Dec 1, 2012, 05:55 AM   #10
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Somewhere down the line we forgot that some of the guys we've had on this current team were ranked recruits. Athletic long guys that can get up and down the court. In past seasons games we would see flashes of their talent, but it was never consistent. These guys seem to fit better in this new system and get to utilize their untapped athletic potential. And having Groce's positive reinforcement and energy on and off the court has changed the attitudes of the players. I see more motivation and hustle out of them as well. Which goes to show that you can't "Mollycoddle" kids...
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Old Dec 1, 2012, 06:29 AM   #11
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I think most of us expected to be 7-1 right now, but the domination against teams like USC and Butler has been the surprising aspect for me.
This team has what I would consider to be signature wins -- close, last-second comebacks against Hawaii and Gardner-Webb -- but they still need to showcase their game against some good teams in order to accurately gage what this team is capable of over the long haul.
Gonzaga will be a huge litmus test, top 15 opponent on the road in a hostile environment.

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Old Dec 1, 2012, 06:30 AM   #12
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Somewhere down the line we forgot that some of the guys we've had on this current team were ranked recruits. Athletic long guys that can get up and down the court. In past seasons games we would see flashes of their talent, but it was never consistent. These guys seem to fit better in this new system and get to utilize their untapped athletic potential. And having Groce's positive reinforcement and energy on and off the court has changed the attitudes of the players. I see more motivation and hustle out of them as well. Which goes to show that you can't "Mollycoddle" kids...
At some point you have to stop judging players on what they did in HS and start looking at what they've accomplished at the collegiate level.

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Old Dec 1, 2012, 07:01 AM   #13
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We have a tough schedule ahead. Before the season started, if I was offered 12-2 in nonconference and 9-9 in the league for 21-11 overall going into BT Tourney, I would have taken it. The optimist in me would hope for better but I think that would be a fine year for this group.
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Old Dec 1, 2012, 07:08 AM   #14
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At some point you have to stop judging players on what they did in HS and start looking at what they've accomplished at the collegiate level.
This team has the same players as last year but isn't the same team at all. This is no longer the BW era....

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Old Dec 1, 2012, 07:10 AM   #15
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If the past years mean anything, these guys looked burned out at the end of the season. Was that from mental or physical exhaustion or a little of both?

I'm hoping the bench plays a bigger role as the season roles on and the new coaching staff avoids imposing the mental exhaustion that I suspect contributed to late season burnout.

So far, the season looks about as good as anyone could have hoped for.
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Old Dec 1, 2012, 07:13 AM   #16
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I think most of us expected to be 7-1 right now, but the domination against teams like USC and Butler has been the surprising aspect forer to be signature wins -- close, last-second comebacks against Hawaii and Gardner-Webb -- but they still need to showcase their game against some in order to accurately gage what this team is capable of over the
Gonzaga will be a huge litmus test, top 15 opponent on the road in a hostile environment.
I remember an awful lot of posters hoping to come out of Maui 2-2,
Gonzaga a HUGE test, absolutely correct.
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Old Dec 1, 2012, 07:56 AM   #17
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I'm surprised by some of the margins and dominating nature of the performances.

But like others have said, I thought we'd be good.

Some people thought Weber should have been gone because he couldn't recruit well enough. I thought he should have been gone because he couldn't coach well. So bringing in a new coach seemed to me to be a recipe for success with these good recruits.
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Old Dec 1, 2012, 08:01 AM   #18
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Last year's team also started out really strong and with more talent. I'll wait until the B10 season to get excited about this team.
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Old Dec 1, 2012, 08:21 AM   #19
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Last year's team also started out really strong and with more talent. I'll wait until the B10 season to get excited about this team.
Why not be excited we're actually playing with heart and winning again?
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Old Dec 1, 2012, 08:22 AM   #20
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Last year's team also started out really strong and with more talent. I'll wait until the B10 season to get excited about this team.
When you eat dinner do you think "I'll tell you if this was good tomorrow' when I know if I got food poisoning"?

Just enjoy. This is good cooking.
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Old Dec 1, 2012, 08:48 AM   #21
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While I didn't see this coming, I'm going to enjoy it while it lasts. Yaneverknow what's coming tomorrow.
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Old Dec 1, 2012, 09:09 AM   #22
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Somewhere down the line we forgot that some of the guys we've had on this current team were ranked recruits. Athletic long guys that can get up and down the court. In past seasons games we would see flashes of their talent, but it was never consistent. These guys seem to fit better in this new system and get to utilize their untapped athletic potential. And having Groce's positive reinforcement and energy on and off the court has changed the attitudes of the players. I see more motivation and hustle out of them as well. Which goes to show that you can't "Mollycoddle" kids...
Ha ! Perfect !

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Old Dec 1, 2012, 09:18 AM   #23
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I think this team's success is in great part due to two improvements this coaching staff has created versus the previous regime:

1. The scheme exploits the athletic nature of the squad as comprised.

2. These coaches look to be really, really good teachers and planners.

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Old Dec 1, 2012, 09:23 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by combes View Post
We have a tough schedule ahead. Before the season started, if I was offered 12-2 in nonconference and 9-9 in the league for 21-11 overall going into BT Tourney, I would have taken it. The optimist in me would hope for better but I think that would be a fine year for this group.
EXACTLY what I told my Florida Illini group yesterday.

Combes, we may be twin sons of different mothers. (tribute to Illinoisian Dan Fogelberg; look it up)
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Old Dec 1, 2012, 09:54 AM   #25
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The Tupper piece nicely outlines the culture change that has occured in the program with the coaching change:

No more overbearing, my way or highway style from a Keady protege, rather a teaching style that is supportive and positive.

A non stubborn approach to the scheme, as it addresses the team make-up and in- game. ( A zone!)

A coaching personality that embraces the team (sometimes literally), the AH crowd, even the refs for crissakes!

As Illini fans we are very fortunate we can claim this very good coach and his staff.
Sure there will be losses, probably a bunch, but I for one just couldn't be happier.

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