Summer conversations: John Groce (part II)

The team this year seemed to be really mentally strained come February. How as a coach to you face that? How do you prepare your team to deal with that?

That's a great question. I told those guys that I'm one of those people that believes in controlling the controlables. You can't control the past, good or bad. That's gone. People keep asking me about last year, and I haven't watched enough of last year to be able to critique last year. I saw a couple games on TV, and not even the whole game. So for me to say yay or nay -- that's totally unfair.

But I know right now we're going in a direction where we establish and develop a culture where we finish everything. Whether that's academics, whether that's something off the court, whether that's finishing a game, finishing a possession with a rebound, executing on a given offensive possession, finishing the half, finishing a four minute war... finish finish finish. I just think it's a mindset. Being a finisher is a mindset.

Right now, are we where we need to be in that area? No. But in the spring, that's why we came up with our motto: T-n-T. Toughness and togetherness. It's what we need more than anything else. Part of that is what I think you're talking about, where we've got to be able, when we get popped in the mouth, to stay right here and handle adversity and fight. I call it having fight syndrome instead of flight syndrome.

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2017 Illini Football Schedule

DateOpponentTime/TV
Sat, Sept 2Ball State11:00am BTN
Sat, Sept 9Western Kentucky7:00pm BTN
Fri, Sept 15@USF6:00pm ESPN
Fri, Sept 29Nebraska7:00pm FS1
Sat, Oct 7@Iowa11:00am
Sat, Oct 14Rutgers 
Sat, Oct 21@Minnesota2:30pm or
3:00pm
Sat, Oct 28Wisconsin
(Homecoming)
11:00am
Sat, Nov 4@Purdue 
Sat, Nov 11Indiana 
Sat, Nov 18@Ohio State 
Sat, Nov 25Northwestern 
All times CT. Game times will be listed when announced