Purdue 63, Illinois 58 POSTGAME

This is becoming a pretty stale trope. Do you guys think the opportunity cost of doing things like SEAL training and building a brand people want to be associated with is a winning conference record? If so, please state it outright, so the rest of us can tackle your ridiculousness head-on.
I think you may be being overly harsh on this. I am not sure what he meant but I know that I think being coherent before a microphone is a beneficial trait but not an adequate one to define a head coach. So often in defense of Groce we see posts about what a great ambassador for the school he is. If anything is a stale trope it is that excuse.

I'm actually less aggravated today than I was after we lost to Iowa and MSU. By then the writing appeared to be on the wall about where we were headed this post season (I still hope to be surprised though that hope is dwindling).

But the excuses for poor coaching are tiresome. His offense is poor. His recruiting has been inadequate. Better than Bruce perhaps though the argument can be made that it is similar in that it fails to fill in absolutely critical components. We can talk about how he tried to get this or that guy and how he was screwed as the black dog of fate a few times but ultimately all we are doing is excusing failure. Hopefully he'll put it all together but I am starting to wonder if he caught lightning in a bottle at OU where he was just over .500 in the MAC across 4 seasons.

We definitely have to give him one more year and if he squeaks into the NCAA's this year probably more but I think it is safe to say that the silly aphorisms, PR stunts and perpetual positivity in the wake of failure is getting tiresome for a portion of the fanbase.
 
We definitely have to give him one more year and if he squeaks into the NCAA's this year probably more but I think it is safe to say that the silly aphorisms, PR stunts and perpetual positivity in the wake of failure is getting tiresome for a portion of the fanbase.

But the truth is that this is a program that had collapsed, was left with a bare cupboard and had our top coaching choices turn us down.

These last two years have been duct tape years--patching together rosters with transfers and 2 recruiting classes (one of which he had a very late start at). Think for a minute when we'd be with what was here when Groce arrived.

I think the strategy has been sound--bring in transfers, rebalance the classes, etc. But there also have definitely been problems with in game coaching, scoring droughts, and recruiting misses.

In the end I think most of the fan base is in a similar place--some variation on 'he deserves another year & another non-NCAA year will mean he's probably gone'. Doesn't mean there won't be huge arguments about the nuance within that basic premise!
 
Chicago, IL
The main reason I was so optimistic about this year was our depth. We lost our depth very quickly when we lost Abrams and Paul and then losing Rice and Cosby further killed us. We went from having a deep team to having a team that had to rely on 3 sometimes 4 players for essentially all of our points. This meant that when 1 or 2 were cold, well it just wasnt going to happen for us. I know Groce has to take some blame too but its pretty obvious that we cant compare preseason expectations to what we ended up with.

Yesterday was on the players because they just kept missing shots, missing FTs and giving the ball away. We couldnt put away a team we held to 21 points in the 1st half and that is just bad.
 
The Transfer Portal
We definitely have to give him one more year and if he squeaks into the NCAA's this year probably more but I think it is safe to say that the silly aphorisms, PR stunts and perpetual positivity in the wake of failure is getting tiresome for a portion of the fanbase.
There are a lot of valid questions people can ask if they want to have that discussion. Here are a few:

- Why aren't we more willing to adapt our offensive approach to our personnel?
- What does the Cosby situation say about our ability to evaluate talent? Or about our general strategy of using transfers?
- Why was it such a struggle for our three best offensive players to play together?

But potshots about the SEAL training or about being positive in the public eye are not just beside the point, they're hypocritical considering these are the type of things we (correctly!) accused our previous coach of flubbing and thus pile-driving the Illinois basketball brand into the ground.
 
There are a lot of valid questions people can ask if they want to have that discussion. Here are a few:

- Why aren't we more willing to adapt our offensive approach to our personnel?
- What does the Cosby situation say about our ability to evaluate talent? Or about our general strategy of using transfers?
- Why was it such a struggle for our three best offensive players to play together?

But potshots about the SEAL training or about being positive in the public eye are not just beside the point, they're hypocritical considering these are the type of things we (correctly!) accused our previous coach of flubbing and thus pile-driving the Illinois basketball brand into the ground.
I think they get brought up negatively occasionally because posters bring the PR and personality out almost as a defense mechanism to deflect any Groce criticism. There's a saying, 'all sizzle, no steak.' I'm not convinced that the !!! half of that saying is true but certainly all these items we are talking about are merely 'sizzle'.
 
But the truth is that this is a program that had collapsed, was left with a bare cupboard and had our top coaching choices turn us down.

These last two years have been duct tape years--patching together rosters with transfers and 2 recruiting classes (one of which he had a very late start at). Think for a minute when we'd be with what was here when Groce arrived.

I think the strategy has been sound--bring in transfers, rebalance the classes, etc. But there also have definitely been problems with in game coaching, scoring droughts, and recruiting misses.

In the end I think most of the fan base is in a similar place--some variation on 'he deserves another year & another non-NCAA year will mean he's probably gone'. Doesn't mean there won't be huge arguments about the nuance within that basic premise!
If the program hadn't collapsed before his arrival he'd be fired after this season. That mess he inherited is what buys him next year at least.
 
The Transfer Portal
I think they get brought up negatively occasionally because posters bring the PR and personality out almost as a defense mechanism to deflect any Groce criticism. There's a saying, 'all sizzle, no steak.' I'm not convinced that the !!! half of that saying is true but certainly all these items we are talking about are merely 'sizzle'.
Well, I would submit that "perception is reality" is a much more apt saying to be using when we're talking about college sports. Ask Tim Beckman.
 
That's wonderful but let's start doing great things at Illinois.
I agree but that wasn't the context of the discussion. Also, those past experiences can and should shape people's thoughts about "great things" happening at illinois going forward.

As I said previously #RebuildLife.
 
Golden, IL
I am as disappointed in the outcome of this season as anyone, but many of the comments I've been reading in regards to Groce just seem way out of line. I think the expectations our fanbase has laid at his feet are unreasonable. He took over a program that was left in shambles by the previous regime.

Take a look at the current roster:

*The Junior and Senior classes were recruited by Weber. There is only one player left from those classes (you can't count Abrams since he didn't play this year). That one player is Egwu, who is an offensive black hole. There is not a single scholarship Junior on this team (MLT doesn't count for obvious reasons). Groce deserves a ton of credit for bringing in a transfer from a MVC program, who has turned out to be our best player.

*The sophomore class is Groce's first recruiting class and he only had about half a year to put it together. Given the situation, is it really any surprise that the class would be lacking. We still managed to get Hill and Nunn, who should be great players for us the next couple years.

*For this year's freshman class there was only one scholarship available and I think he did well in getting Leron Black. Again, he looks to be a great player going forward.

*Next year we have a very good recruiting class coming in.

I believe that the state Weber left this program in was much worse than most people are giving credit for. Not only were the talent levels depleted and the class balance destroyed, but the reputation of the program was shattered. As crazy fans, we tend not to see it, but it's true from an outside perspective. These things just cannot be fixed overnight. I believe that Groce is doing a fantastic job and has things pointed in the right direction. It' just going to take some time. Don't punish him for the sins of the previous coaching staff.

That being said, there are some concerns. Namely, the failures in recruiting at the PG and C positions. On the other hand, looking at it objectively, why would any top-flight player at one of those positions come to Illinois right now? For all intents and purposes (and it hurts to say this), we are MInnesota. This is no longer an upper echelon basketball program. It's going to take time and a lot of work to get it back there.
 
I think we let the program slip too far, and now we are realizing how hard it is to rebuild. And I am not saying that now to defend Groce, that was my premise before Groce took over.

Groce is not without blame in his tenure and should not avoid criticism. I don't sugarcoat things, so I argued with many who were giving him an A in recruiting, when our two biggest needs IMO (PG, Post player) remain unfulfilled. Some of his in game management needs to change as well. We fail to push tempo (how annoying is it to see our PGs just walk the ball up the court with no sense of urgency in critical games). We should have some inside/post play even with existing roster, and not a fan of high picks on offense/defense with our bigs constantly out of position.

But overall, I think Groce has improved the overall program from when he took over, still believe that Groce is the right person for the UI job, and still confident that he will return the program to prominence.
 
The Transfer Portal
I believe that the state Weber left this program in was much worse than most people are giving credit for. Not only were the talent levels depleted and the class balance destroyed, but the reputation of the program was shattered.
I don't know if it's a desire to just move on from that era or if it's a way for people to quasi-exonerate themselves for looking the other way on Weber for so long, but man is this true. And apparently, it needs to be said more.
 
DC Area
If the program hadn't collapsed before his arrival he'd be fired after this season. That mess he inherited is what buys him next year at least.
I am basically willing to let groce get his first class through their senior year and then make a decision. It was a mess here when he started and things could be worse but should probably be a little better. My biggest issue is that rice hill and nunn don't play well together. Anytime the whole is less than the sum of it parts you have to worry. Unlike others I'm really happy with hill nunn black jcl. I think if we has a solid of with that group it would be hard to not blame coaching in the future.
 
I am as disappointed in the outcome of this season as anyone, but many of the comments I've been reading in regards to Groce just seem way out of line. I think the expectations our fanbase has laid at his feet are unreasonable. He took over a program that was left in shambles by the previous regime.

Take a look at the current roster:

*The Junior and Senior classes were recruited by Weber. There is only one player left from those classes (you can't count Abrams since he didn't play this year). That one player is Egwu, who is an offensive black hole. There is not a single scholarship Junior on this team (MLT doesn't count for obvious reasons). Groce deserves a ton of credit for bringing in a transfer from a MVC program, who has turned out to be our best player.
You might recall that 38% 3Pt FG 12 ppg Myke Henry was here as well. The cupboard was not overflowing but it was not quite as bare as some make it out to be. Egwu may not be all that good but Groce has had 3 years to make him good and failed. I don't know if anyone could have taught him but I think it's possible that some of his deficiencies are coaching related.

*The sophomore class is Groce's first recruiting class and he only had about half a year to put it together. Given the situation, is it really any surprise that the class would be lacking. We still managed to get Hill and Nunn, who should be great players for us the next couple years.
We also had Hill. That is not a Groce recruit. The only Groce recruit that has strongly contributed is Nunn.

*For this year's freshman class there was only one scholarship available and I think he did well in getting Leron Black. Again, he looks to be a great player going forward.
There were 2 scholarships and he chose to get two PF's.

*Next year we have a very good recruiting class coming in.
Not really. We have failed to address the two positions of need. While JCL looks like a good pickup and the other parts are intriguing I think at best you'd give this class a C- given the NEEDS we have and the failure to address them.

I believe that the state Weber left this program in was much worse than most people are giving credit for. Not only were the talent levels depleted and the class balance destroyed, but the reputation of the program was shattered. As crazy fans, we tend not to see it, but it's true from an outside perspective. These things just cannot be fixed overnight. I believe that Groce is doing a fantastic job and has things pointed in the right direction. It' just going to take some time. Don't punish him for the sins of the previous coaching staff.
The top 40-50 teams make the NCAA's each year. If a coach cannot get us into that not-so-heady company after 3 years, I think it is safe to blame him somewhat. Basketball is a sport where you can reload fairly quickly. Where you don't need huge amounts of depth to compete. Where you can scheme and win games as a coach. 3 years isn't enough but it's long enough to stop with the excuses IMO.

That being said, there are some concerns. Namely, the failures in recruiting at the PG and C positions. On the other hand, looking at it objectively, why would any top-flight player at one of those positions come to Illinois right now? For all intents and purposes (and it hurts to say this), we are MInnesota. This is no longer an upper echelon basketball program. It's going to take time and a lot of work to get it back there.
We are not getting Minnesota level players at the 1 or 5. There is no excuse for failing to address this problem. Tate is not a high major PG. Starks isn't even remotely a PG. Cosby isn't a PG. JCL isn't a PG. AJ isn't a PG. DJW isn't a PG. Sure. Tracy got injured but at his best he was not much of a PG. I think it was posted that we had 1/2 a PG before he played his sophomore season. Great kid. Not great PG. All kinds of middle tier teams have great or very good PG's. Pretending our program doesn't have enough cachet to attract a PG is preposterous. I am sorry but that's not a reasonable comment. Enough cachet to get a top 10 center? Probably not. Enough to get a reasonable facsimile of a PG? Really?
 
You might recall that 38% 3Pt FG 12 ppg Myke Henry was here as well. The cupboard was not overflowing but it was not quite as bare as some make it out to be. Egwu may not be all that good but Groce has had 3 years to make him good and failed. I don't know if anyone could have taught him but I think it's possible that some of his deficiencies are coaching related.



We also had Hill. That is not a Groce recruit. The only Groce recruit that has strongly contributed is Nunn.



There were 2 scholarships and he chose to get two PF's.



Not really. We have failed to address the two positions of need. While JCL looks like a good pickup and the other parts are intriguing I think at best you'd give this class a C- given the NEEDS we have and the failure to address them.



The top 40-50 teams make the NCAA's each year. If a coach cannot get us into that not-so-heady company after 3 years, I think it is safe to blame him somewhat. Basketball is a sport where you can reload fairly quickly. Where you don't need huge amounts of depth to compete. Where you can scheme and win games as a coach. 3 years isn't enough but it's long enough to stop with the excuses IMO.



We are not getting Minnesota level players at the 1 or 5. There is no excuse for failing to address this problem. Tate is not a high major PG. Starks isn't even remotely a PG. Cosby isn't a PG. JCL isn't a PG. AJ isn't a PG. DJW isn't a PG. Sure. Tracy got injured but at his best he was not much of a PG. I think it was posted that we had 1/2 a PG before he played his sophomore season. Great kid. Not great PG. All kinds of middle tier teams have great or very good PG's. Pretending our program doesn't have enough cachet to attract a PG is preposterous. I am sorry but that's not a reasonable comment. Enough cachet to get a top 10 center? Probably not. Enough to get a reasonable facsimile of a PG? Really?
Why do people say that Hill was here already and act as if Groce shouldn't get credit for his commit. He committed to Weber that is true but Groce still had to re-recruit him. When coaches leave programs kids will reopen their recruitment. It happens ALL THE TIME. I remember how excited I was about Charlie Villanueva. That recruiting class would have been special with him. He committed but once Self left for KU Villanueva reopened his recruitment and went elsewhere. The first thing that Groce did when hired here was recruit Malcolm. He knew he was a special player and made sure he came to U of I. He is Groce's recruit anyway you look at it.

I am not happy with the first three years of Groce's tenure and don't understand why PG's won't commit. His offense is so desperate for a good PG and he just can't sell anyone to come here. I am hopeful that Tracy can do a decent job next year and with the addition of shooters on the team maybe he passes a bit more. Tate has to improve to a level I am unsure he can ever get to. He shoots under 10% from the 3 point line. That is way worse than anything that Chester Frazier ever did and he was a terrible shooter. If MLV can't get into school and play next year the 2016 recruiting class has to have a PG in it. If we end up with more talented wings but no PG it will be more of the same. We have pieces in place to be a good team but we really need a PG to distribute the ball. We can have great shooters all over the floor but if you can't bring the ball up the court and play 4 on 5 like we do on offense when Tate is out there it won't matter. We also need a big and that gets mentioned plenty and it was painful to watch Egwu on offense the last few years. He made zero improvement (that's on the coaching staff as they liked him shooting the 3 ball). He was a jump shooting center who was a bad jump shooter. We need someone who can hit the occasional jump hook in the lane to keep defenses honest. I don't recall any team ever double teaming Nnanna on the block. There is no need. He either passed the ball out or took a fade away jumper and didn't hit near enough of those to be a threat. I am hopeful that a 5th year transfer will be out there for us to grab.
 
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Why do people say that Hill was here already and act as if Groce shouldn't get credit for his commit. He committed to Weber that is true but Groce still had to re-recruit him. When coaches leave programs kids will reopen their recruitment. It happens ALL THE TIME. I remember how excited I was about Charlie Villanueva. That recruiting class would have been special with him. He committed but once Self left for KU Villanueva reopened his recruitment and went elsewhere. The first thing that Groce did when hired here was recruit Malcolm. He knew he was a special player and made sure he came to U of I. He is Groce's recruit anyway you look at it.

I am not happy with the first three years of Groce's tenure and don't understand why PG's won't commit. His offense is so desperate for a good PG and he just can't sell anyone to come here. I am hopeful that Tracy can do a decent job next year and with the addition of shooters on the team maybe he passes a bit more. Tate has to improve to a level I am unsure he can ever get to. He shoots under 10% from the 3 point line. That is way worse than anything that Chester Frazier ever did and he was a terrible shooter. If MLV can't get into school and play next year the 2016 recruiting class has to have a PG in it. If we end up with more talented wings but no PG it will be more of the same. We have pieces in place to be a good team but we really need a PG to distribute the ball. We can have great shooters all over the floor but if you can't bring the ball up the court and play 4 on 5 like we do on offense when Tate is out there it won't matter. We also need a big and that gets mentioned pleny and it was painful to watch Egwu on offense the last few years. He made zero improvement. He was a jump shooting center who was a bad jump shooter. We need someone who can hit the occasional jump hook to keep defenses honest. I don't recall any team ever double teaming Nnanna on the block. There is no need. He either passed the ball out or took a fade away jumper and didn't hit near enough of those to be a threat. I am hopeful that a 5th year transfer will be out there for us to grab.
Because Hill stated in an interview that he was coming to Illinois. Sure he might have gone elsewhere but he was pretty clear that he was an Illinois fan, not a Bruce fan. I don't recall the particulars but it had something to do with a kid he knew that was dying (maybe of cancer). Someone else probably recalls and can correct me if I am wrong.
 
Logan Square, Chicago
We are not getting Minnesota level players at the 1 or 5. There is no excuse for failing to address this problem. Tate is not a high major PG. Starks isn't even remotely a PG. Cosby isn't a PG. JCL isn't a PG. AJ isn't a PG. DJW isn't a PG. Sure. Tracy got injured but at his best he was not much of a PG. I think it was posted that we had 1/2 a PG before he played his sophomore season. Great kid. Not great PG. All kinds of middle tier teams have great or very good PG's. Pretending our program doesn't have enough cachet to attract a PG is preposterous. I am sorry but that's not a reasonable comment. Enough cachet to get a top 10 center? Probably not. Enough to get a reasonable facsimile of a PG? Really?
I'm not nearly as worried about the 5 as I am about the 1.

I think that you can get by, quite successfully, in college ball with 2 good PFs and no Center.

But one of my biggest complaints about Groce is that he has aimed too high with PG recruiting. I wish we would stop targeting McDAA point guards (Evans, Brunson, Jackson) until we can land a couple high 3-star, low 4-star PGs. We DESPERATELY need guys who WILL be good as juniors and seniors, even if they aren't contributing much before that.

Tate will probably be decent as an upperclassmen, but he has some obvious limitations. Abrams will probably be decent next year. In 2016 we'll be relying on Tate and a freshman, or a converted wing. In 2017 we're relying on freshmen and sophomore PGs.

We need to pick up a guy in 2015 or 2016 who will be serviceable in 2017, or we're screwed. Cover that base, then think about getting the program-changer.
 
I'm not nearly as worried about the 5 as I am about the 1.

I think that you can get by, quite successfully, in college ball with 2 good PFs and no Center.

But one of my biggest complaints about Groce is that he has aimed too high with PG recruiting. I wish we would stop targeting McDAA point guards (Evans, Brunson, Jackson) until we can land a couple high 3-star, low 4-star PGs. We DESPERATELY need guys who WILL be good as juniors and seniors, even if they aren't contributing much before that.

Tate will probably be decent as an upperclassmen, but he has some obvious limitations. Abrams will probably be decent next year. In 2016 we'll be relying on Tate and a freshman, or a converted wing. In 2017 we're relying on freshmen and sophomore PGs.

We need to pick up a guy in 2015 or 2016 who will be serviceable in 2017, or we're screwed. Cover that base, then think about getting the program-changer.
I agree with every word of that.
 
If the program hadn't collapsed before his arrival he'd be fired after this season. That mess he inherited is what buys him next year at least.
Weber needed to go, but barring a miraculous run the big 10 tournament, the only players Groce will have gotten to the tournament will be Weber's.
 
The main reason I was so optimistic about this year was our depth. We lost our depth very quickly when we lost Abrams and Paul and then losing Rice and Cosby further killed us. We went from having a deep team to having a team that had to rely on 3 sometimes 4 players for essentially all of our points. This meant that when 1 or 2 were cold, well it just wasnt going to happen for us. I know Groce has to take some blame too but its pretty obvious that we cant compare preseason expectations to what we ended up with.

Yesterday was on the players because they just kept missing shots, missing FTs and giving the ball away. We couldnt put away a team we held to 21 points in the 1st half and that is just bad.
I'm not sure what your point is here. We went on the road and beat MSU with the lack of depth that "killed us." We were actually an NCAA tournament team with that lack of depth.
 
Chicago, IL
I'm not sure what your point is here. We went on the road and beat MSU with the lack of depth that "killed us." We were actually an NCAA tournament team with that lack of depth.
The point is trying to do that for an entire season. Sure you can quote a game here or there. Do it for the entire season and this is what happens. Players get tired, they burn out. If someone has a bad night no one is there to step up and take their place. Yes when our players all played well we are a very good team. When a few dont we are average. If we had depth we can mitigate that problem but without it you can see what happened.

We also lost to Nebraska and Minnesota, do you really think that not having Abrams, Paul, Rice and Cosby (well we can exclude Cosby but still) would not have helped?? Do you really think that taken the burden off of Egwu or Tate and Starks would not have helped this season?
 
The point is trying to do that for an entire season. Sure you can quote a game here or there. Do it for the entire season and this is what happens. Players get tired, they burn out. If someone has a bad night no one is there to step up and take their place. Yes when our players all played well we are a very good team. When a few dont we are average. If we had depth we can mitigate that problem but without it you can see what happened.

We also lost to Nebraska and Minnesota, do you really think that not having Abrams, Paul, Rice and Cosby (well we can exclude Cosby but still) would not have helped?? Do you really think that taken the burden off of Egwu or Tate and Starks would not have helped this season?
It's not one game. We were without those guys for multiple games and worked our way into the NCAA tournament discussion. Your "excuse" holds no water.
 
It's not one game. We were without those guys for multiple games and worked our way into the NCAA tournament discussion. Your "excuse" holds no water.
You don't seem to understand. We've worked our way into discussion with a short handed team much of the season. If we had our full compliment of players there's at least a decent chance we aren't sweating in one week.