John Groce at Illinois

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I'm not sure why people think it's a good idea to bring on Dee as a brand-new HC with 0 experience. Powell's a different matter.
I met Roger Powell in person at a UIC vs. Valpo game. Took a picture - really nice dude.

That said, If we aren't getting excited about hiring MAC coaches, how are we supposed to get excited about hiring a Horizon League assistant?
 
Bloomington
I'm not sure why people think it's a good idea to bring on Dee as a brand-new HC with 0 experience. Powell's a different matter.
I like Roger a lot, but if the best we can do is a Valpo assistant we can just disband the program today. Conversely, if the admin THINKS a Valpo assistant is the best we can do, shut down the DIA and Illini Athletics.
 
I think Groce should be gone after we hire the new AD. Teams were never this bad with Bruce Weber. This is one of the worst teams that Illinois as ever put on the court. Groce has had time and has shown he can't recruit difference makers and top tier athletes. I really like Jerrance Howard for the job. I would love to see Dee Brown on the staff. I am not sure if he is ready to be the HC, but he could be a great guy to have on the staff.
 
The thing that has ALWAYS bothered me about Groce offenses is the anemic off-ball movement.

Watching Indiana, MSU, and Maryland play Illinois is night and day. The best offenses are constantly in motion, on and off-ball. I can't imagine that this isn't something coached up by Groce...even in a drive and kick offense, you should be moving the ball in-and-out and swinging around the perimeter to find an opening to drive before you kick.

My question then is...WHY?
Is it coaching?
Is it because we've never had more than two go-to scorers on the floor (2013- Paul & DJ, 2014- Ray & Tracy, 2015- Rice & Nunn, Hill & Nunn)?
Is it because we always have at least one guy who is a total non-factor on offense?
Is it because we've had a lead guard with sticky fingers every year (Paul, Ray, Ray, Hill?)

This 2016 team is one of the best passing Illini teams I've seen in a decade. Hill & Nunn are certainly +, if not ++, passers, and even one of our posts is a ++ passer. When guys move off the ball, they find them and put them in a great position for a bucket.

Any theories?
It is a combination of things, including some of the things (questions) you mentioned. But some of the major reasons include:

1) People overestimate the talent and abilities of the players we have. While we have had (and still have) some good players and decent shooters, we lack players with the talent to create 1-on-1 and consistently beat their defenders off the dribble when guarder closely. For example, Nunn has a quick release and gets great elevation on his jump shot. But unless he has some space he can't consistently take his man off the dribble. Hill will back his player down and use his fade away and step back moves, but he is not great at creating and driving to the basket when closely guarded.

2) We have major, MAJOR gaps at key positions. No real PG who can create and put pressure on defenses. No post/inside play. Even with Thorne totally healthy, people forget that he only averaged 22-23 minutes per game. Thorne was not a player who could consistently give you 30+ mins of inside play. And as much as I really like Finke as stretch PF (and believe he will develop into an excellent player in the B1G), he is not a C/post. I never bought into the mantra that we recruited a stretch PF and a C arrived on campus. We recruited a stretch PF and a stretch PF arrived on campus. And after a year, he is still a stretch PF.

3) So without quality PG and inside/post play, defenses just extend to the perimeter guarding closer. Add the fact that we do not have many player options who can create, it is a recipe for mediocre play.

Bottom line is that Groce's coaching leaves a lot to be desired. Without talent, and I mean highly ranked talent, he won't be consistently successful. If he gets talent, his coaching schemes will look better, despite his deficiencies. But without talent, he has no chance.
 
So you would hire someone with ZERO head coaching experience on any division level?

I would go with Bryce Drew with Roger Powell and if Jerrance wannted to join them I would have no problem with Jerrance coming back.

Right now, John Groce gets my support and hopefully gets this class he has been relentlessly working on.
I feel like, after watching the Indiana game, Groce is in his first year. It's one thing to lose due to lack of injuries ect...but the way we look is not positive. Lack of fundamental things that shouldn't be happening. I like Groce, seems like a great guy but from I saw the other night, makes me question a few things. At least if he is kept, his staff needs to be shook up.

I like the idea of bringing in Drew...I think he would be good.
 
St. Louis, MO
I feel like, after watching the Indiana game, Groce is in his first year. It's one thing to lose due to lack of injuries ect...but the way we look is not positive. Lack of fundamental things that shouldn't be happening. I like Groce, seems like a great guy but from I saw the other night, makes me question a few things. At least if he is kept, his staff needs to be shook up.

I like the idea of bringing in Drew...I think he would be good.
I'd doubt Drew would come here. The guy turned down Iowa State, who was a pre-season top 10 team. Most likely more of a private school type coach where he can talk about his faith and face little media pressure.
 
It is a combination of things, including some of the things (questions) you mentioned. But some of the major reasons include:

1) People overestimate the talent and abilities of the players we have. While we have had (and still have) some good players and decent shooters, we lack players with the talent to create 1-on-1 and consistently beat their defenders off the dribble when guarder closely. For example, Nunn has a quick release and gets great elevation on his jump shot. But unless he has some space he can't consistently take his man off the dribble. Hill will back his player down and use his fade away and step back moves, but he is not great at creating and driving to the basket when closely guarded.

2) We have major, MAJOR gaps at key positions. No real PG who can create and put pressure on defenses. No post/inside play. Even with Thorne totally healthy, people forget that he only averaged 22-23 minutes per game. Thorne was not a player who could consistently give you 30+ mins of inside play. And as much as I really like Finke as stretch PF (and believe he will develop into an excellent player in the B1G), he is not a C/post. I never bought into the mantra that we recruited a stretch PF and a C arrived on campus. We recruited a stretch PF and a stretch PF arrived on campus. And after a year, he is still a stretch PF.

3) So without quality PG and inside/post play, defenses just extend to the perimeter guarding closer. Add the fact that we do not have many player options who can create, it is a recipe for mediocre play.

Bottom line is that Groce's coaching leaves a lot to be desired. Without talent, and I mean highly ranked talent, he won't be consistently successful. If he gets talent, his coaching schemes will look better, despite his deficiencies. But without talent, he has no chance.
I don't disagree with most of your points.

My thoughts are that talent doesn't correlate with moving without the ball...and we do have some good passers.

Is it a system or emphasis issue that minimizes player off ball movement?
 
I'd doubt Drew would come here. The guy turned down Iowa State, who was a pre-season top 10 team. Most likely more of a private school type coach where he can talk about his faith and face little media pressure.
He interviewed for the job, but I don't remember hearing him turn them down. I could be wrong though. Not sure why he would interview and then turn them down..
 
Here is what I would do as soon as I became the AD. Let me know your thoughts. I would release the entire coaching staff. I would hire Jerrance Howard as head coach...is he ready? Sure, why not. What else do we have to lose. He loves Illinois, he has recruiting cred, likeable guy. Been working under some legends also...so he has to know something about the game. He's ready...it's time.

I would hire Dee Brown, Roger Powell, and Deon Thomas as assistants. Imagine Dee, Jerrance, Roger walking in to scout a kid. I would also try to get Steve Bardo.

I would go with the all African American staff...be a trailblazer, create some media attention..a buzz at Illinois for doing it.
The biggest complaint about Groce is his in-game coaching. You aren't getting better in that area by hiring Jerrance Howard. Sure Jerrance has worked under some HOF coaches, but that's no guarantee that he can provide success on his own. You'd be hiring another guy (like Groce, but minus the head coaching experience) with a big recruiting resume and hoping that he could land some big-time talent. If he were to get talent, could he unify them and get them to play together? By several accounts, Jerrance was pretty divisive toward the end of the Weber era. Personally, I'm not convinced he's the right guy to lead this program.

Bardo, though...he would be as close to a home run hire as you could get with no previous coaching experience.
 
Ordained Dudeist Priest
Johns Creek, GA
The biggest complaint about Groce is his in-game coaching. You aren't getting better in that area by hiring Jerrance Howard. Sure Jerrance has worked under some HOF coaches, but that's no guarantee that he can provide success on his own. You'd be hiring another guy (like Groce, but minus the head coaching experience) with a big recruiting resume and hoping that he could land some big-time talent. If he were to get talent, could he unify them and get them to play together? By several accounts, Jerrance was pretty divisive toward the end of the Weber era. Personally, I'm not convinced he's the right guy to lead this program.

Bardo, though...he would be as close to a home run hire as you could get with no previous coaching experience.
You can't use the terms "home run hire" and "no previous coaching experience together." Would you let a guy who didn't go to med school perform surgery on you?
 
I don't disagree with most of your points.

My thoughts are that talent doesn't correlate with moving without the ball...and we do have some good passers.

Is it a system or emphasis issue that minimizes player off ball movement?
Groce has his own deficiencies as a coach, as I said, so movement indeed has not been good. But without solid PG and post/inside play, and without the talent to create consistently and attack the basket (even from the perimeter), there is no system you can devise that will magically result in open shots. Especially in the B1G, we are talking about very talented teams, lots of toughness, great coaches.

People were mesmerized by adding "shooters," fantasizing how good we would be now that we were adding JCL, AJ, Finke, in addition to Nunn, Hill, etc. You can certainly move without the ball better, but shots will not automatically get better.
 
Bardo, though...he would be as close to a home run hire as you could get with no previous coaching experience.
I can tell you with certainty that Bardo is not a favorite among many people in the basketball community. Something about his personality that rubs people the wrong way. He will be far from a home run hire, actually a terrible hire IMO.
 
IMO, Dee needs to be on the staff, whether it's under Groce or not, especially if it helps recruiting for the 2017 class. Groce is loyal to a fault, but sometimes tough decisions are necessary at this level of basketball. Even if the weaknesses are just bad lack, and not linked to any particular staff member, there needs to be a move that would excite the fanbase. That would be the only way for Groce to redeem himself(other than miraculously making the tourney this year) and get buy-in next year. If he is retained, there will be a bunch of unhappy fans, whether it is warranted or not. Maybe the new AD will force him to do this.. I guess we'll see soon.
Agreed.
A mediocre record this year
No massive influx of talent next year
Skeptical 2017 recruits.
Going to be a "perfect storm" with no escape.
Groce better do something
Making Brown and Powell assistants might be one option.
Not sure how close current assistants are to current players, that would be a potential downside.
 
Groce has his own deficiencies as a coach, as I said, so movement indeed has not been good. But without solid PG and post/inside play, and without the talent to create consistently and attack the basket (even from the perimeter), there is no system you can devise that will magically result in open shots. Especially in the B1G, we are talking about very talented teams, lots of toughness, great coaches.

People were mesmerized by adding "shooters," fantasizing how good we would be now that we were adding JCL, AJ, Finke, in addition to Nunn, Hill, etc. You can certainly move without the ball better, but shots will not automatically get better.
Smart movement without the ball does increase probability for a better shot. I've seen it all too often with other teams sliding on baseline behind our zone as one example...chalk it up to smart player movement without the ball.
 
Smart movement without the ball does increase probability for a better shot. I've seen it all too often with other teams sliding on baseline behind our zone as one example...chalk it up to smart player movement without the ball.
Depends on competition and talent level of opponents. Our defense is not good, so we have even made Chicago State look good. On offense, it depends on the talent level you have versus the opponents. We often saw that under the previous regime. Endless movement and passing on the perimeter with (forced) shots with time expiring. As I said, ball movement can definitely improve. It is not good right now. But it will not necessarily result in becoming consistently good in the B1G until talent is upgraded and some of the major gaps we've had for many years, pretty much the whole Groce tenure, get fixed.
 
Central Illinois
For those of you who want Groce gone, would you settle for changes to the coaches around him? Personally, I'd want Dee as special assistant to the head coach, but maybe be somewhat hands on with the guards. Also, maybe inquire about Deon Thomas instead of Ford?
 
For those of you who want Groce gone, would you settle for changes to the coaches around him? Personally, I'd want Dee as special assistant to the head coach, but maybe be somewhat hands on with the guards. Also, maybe inquire about Deon Thomas instead of Ford?
These "special assistants" titles and jobs have limited value. Obviously, at a position like that, Dee would not be able to recruit, and his key value would be on having him on the recruiting trail where he could leverage his personality and charisma with recruits and coaches.

Deon is one of my favorite all time players, knew him well, and a fantastic person. But I am not sure he will make a home run recruiter. Not sure he has that kind of personality. Just because someone was an ex-Illini great, does not make him a great recruiter or assistant. Actually, most current great college recruiters were not great players themselves.
 
IMO, Dee needs to be on the staff, whether it's under Groce or not, especially if it helps recruiting for the 2017 class. Groce is loyal to a fault, but sometimes tough decisions are necessary at this level of basketball. Even if the weaknesses are just bad lack, and not linked to any particular staff member, there needs to be a move that would excite the fanbase. That would be the only way for Groce to redeem himself(other than miraculously making the tourney this year) and get buy-in next year. If he is retained, there will be a bunch of unhappy fans, whether it is warranted or not. Maybe the new AD will force him to do this.. I guess we'll see soon.
+1. That's been my hope since Dee was hired by UI. Frankly, it's a no-brainer to make Dee an assistant coach unless he doesn't want to do it. He seems underutilized in his current role. Maybe he doesn't want to do the dirty work of traveling, watching AAU and HS games all over the country and groveling to HS kids and their parents, but with his pedigree and personality he would seem to thrive in this role, and it'd be great to see him as a HC someday. Perhaps we even hire a new HC this year or next year (if the wheels totally fall off) who is a veteran coach who serves as Dee's trainer of sorts and then Dee takes over as HC in 2018 or 2019 after serving as associate HC or some other role. Just thinking off the top of my head.
 
I spoke to Dee about it a while ago and he said basically if they ask he will do it but he is not campaigning for the job. Asked about recruiting and said that DWill and him didnt get anything and thinks its a joke that players at other schools are playing dirty. Said that if you want to come to Illinois it's because you want to be here not because someone is forcing you or paying you to come. You could feel the passion that he has for Illinois when he talks and would just tear it up on the recruiting trail.
Great info. Thanks. If JG is retained for next year, he would frankly be shooting himself in the face not to make Dee an assistant.
 
From an office politics standpoint, say Groce hires Dee next year and then gets fired. New regime comes in and cleans house. We lose Dee. Happens in every company across the country when new leaders are hired.

If I were Dee, I would need some assurances that I have a safe spot somewhere in the administration if Groce were ever let go.
New HC would be wise to keep Dee and unwise not to keep him.
 
Iowa City
I can tell you with certainty that Bardo is not a favorite among many people in the basketball community. Something about his personality that rubs people the wrong way. He will be far from a home run hire, actually a terrible hire IMO.
Sounds like maybe you may know more on this then I do. Back when Thomas was fired, I was listening to The Score. Jason Goff made mention of some alumni upset over the state of Illinois athletics (who could blame them), but when on to say that one alumni who had spoken critically of UI was having his air time lessened by a sports network because UI wanted it that way. My first guess would be Bardo. Seems like he has been doing less games this year for the BTN or ESPN (cant remember who he's calling for currently). And def. not doing the big ones. Any truth to this?
 
These "special assistants" titles and jobs have limited value. Obviously, at a position like that, Dee would not be able to recruit, and his key value would be on having him on the recruiting trail where he could leverage his personality and charisma with recruits and coaches.

Deon is one of my favorite all time players, knew him well, and a fantastic person. But I am not sure he will make a home run recruiter. Not sure he has that kind of personality. Just because someone was an ex-Illini great, does not make him a great recruiter or assistant. Actually, most current great college recruiters were not great players themselves.
How would he be coaching the bogs though
 
For the life of me, I don't understand why anyone would want to hire coaches without coaching experience at this time regardless of whether or not they bleed orange and blue. It might be different if the program were cruising along at a high level and there was luxury in doing so. If what is needed is someone who can boost the program in fundamental ways, hiring someone like a Robert Smith would make a whole lot more sense.

I am not saying that this is what should be done but I just see hiring ex-Illini because of their connection to the program as being too risky. The only one really worth considering would be Roger Powell and I don't think his credentials to be strong enough at this point, though I could be wrong in this regard. If this program needs some change at the coaching level, grasping at straws is not the way to go about it.
 
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