Feb 12, 2013, 01:54 PM
Location: Champaign, IL
Groce: Purdue got us the first time, beat us on a lot of toughness plays.
Groce: D.J. Byrd got them on toughness and made a lot of winning plays for Boilers down the stretch.
Groce: Defense is getting better, still got some correctable errors, making progress on that.
Groce: The majority of the year they've made a lot of toughness play. Last four minutes at Purdue is where Purdue got them.
Groce: Purdue has always played with great toughness, Matt Painter gets a lot out of his guys.
Groce: Wants guys to be themselves, but D.J. Richardson stands out as the guy who's been tough for Illinois.
Groce: Happy for D.J. Richardson, he works hard and he's a great kid.
Groce: Coaches have stayed positive with the players even through the tough times. 18- 22-year-olds are resilient.
Groce: Just because there were losses didn't mean they played bad, and when winning doesn't necessarily mean playing well.
Groce: Teams that focus on getting better every day at the end of the year are the teams that get better.
Groce: When Griffey was 0 for 22, told him to keep shooting. Was hurting them defensively for a while, but he's stepped up.
Groce: Griffey has graded out defensively almost double what it was in the pre-Big Ten schedule.
Groce: Has maintained a good attitude through shooting struggles. Confidence is higher now that shots are falling.
Groce: Today is practice 100 including the summer. Guys have had great attitude.
Groce: Sam McLaurin had the highest grade out in his six-plus years for a guy who played 20 or more minutes in a game.
Groce: The Illinois players gave McLaurin a standing ovation when they announced defensive grades from Minnesota game.
Groce: Sam does all little things, diving, blocking out, etc., guys respect his for that.
Groce: Doesn't watch much basketbal outside of film. Usually spends time with his two boys and wife at home.
Groce: Everything is new for these guys the last eight months, it's like having 14 freshmen and they're getting it more now.
Groce: Rayvonte Rice will be ahead of the curve next season based on having been here all season despite not playing.
Groce: Rayvonte has the capability to do that, we'll see if he can be a go-to guy.
Groce: On D.J. Richardson, that kid cares at a high level. Ain't trading him for anybody.
Groce: Got a big one tomorrow against Purdue. They got us the first time. Beat us on a lot of toughness plays, esp at end of game
Groce: We've got to be better in those areas. No one wants to be out-toughed, certainly in your own building
Groce: Defense getting better, still making correctable errors. Offense improving, sharing the ball better. Improvement due to trust
Groce: The majority of the year we've made a lot of toughness plays, didn't make enough during last 4 minutes at Purdue.
Groce: Purdue's always played with great toughness. Matt gets a lot out of guys. They fight really hard.
Groce: Richardson stands out as a tough player. "He's playing at a really high level right now" offensively and defensively.
Groce: No key for Richardson's hot shooting. Just kept doing what he's doing. He's going to continue to shoot. He's stayed with it.
Groce: Kids can forgive and forget faster than what coaches do. Staff also does great job of keeping in moment, staying positive
Groce: People assume because you lose, you're not getting better. Not true. No question last six games, team's dramatically improved
Groce: Griffey had been hurting them defensively, probably focused on offense. His defensive grade almost doubled recently
Groce: Griffey's had a good attitude. "I don't do bad days." Confidence may be a better word. You get rewarded for working hard
Groce: I don't do Eeyores. I do Tiggers. (awesome)
Groce: Sam had the highest grade out of any player I've coached of a guy that's played 20 or minutes a game.
Groce: Guys darn near gave McLaurin a standing ovation.
Groce: Guys on team respect McLaurin. Adds physical, hard things. It's what winners do. He's a winner.
Groce: Almost impossible to defend A.J. Hammons when he gets deep position. He's just continuing to get better. He's tough to defend
Groce: Takes time for players, even experienced ones, to learn new system. Contniued to stay with it, growing mroe comfortable
Groce: Rayvonte Rice has learned two positions during the year. Having year to learn it should be huge advantage for him next year
Groce on if Rice can be go-to guy: "We'll see. We're going to need someone to be. ...I think he has the capability to do that."
Groce on Richardson: "That kid cares at a high level. I ain't trading him for anybody."