Illinois Coach John Groce was asked a question about the emotions he displayed during the 81-74 Illini loss to the #12 Iowa Hawkeyes. It was Iowa’s first win at Illinois since 1999. The reporter queried as to why John Groce was conveying more emotion than he usually does.
Groce said he was indeed angry, and not just because his team blew a five point lead down the stretch, and missed out on an opportunity for a signature win.
“I was ticked off. People were booing, it ticked me off,” John Groce said.
“I don’t like that. You can say stuff about me, but don’t touch my guys. I think that’s unacceptable. The Orange Krush (Illinois Student Section) was phenomenal. I know we weren’t playing great early, but we’re counting on our building to be positive. These guys are fighters. They’ve been through a lot, I was proud of them. Not saying everyone did that because that would be unfair, but let’s root for Illinois in our building.”
Groce does have a point about the bandwagon element in the Illini fan base. I never really thought this Illinois team was going to be that exceptional back in October when the season started, hence I didn’t overly praise them when they beat Mizzou and achieved the #23 position in the AP poll. However, a lot of Illini fns got teir hopes up. And along those lines, I’m not going to hammer them now for playing badly. They’re young and inexperienced. It is a proverbial “rebuilding year.” Seeing Illinois lose seven in a row is disheartening, but it’s not expected. So I agree with John Groce on this one. The “fans” are overreacting.
Yes, the Illini looked pretty bad when they were down 34-13 early to the “White Collar Basketball” Hawkeyes, but they came all the way back to take a 66-61 lead. So if you don’t like watching John Groce ‘s team lose, that’s understandable, as they are just 2-7 in Big Ten play. However, you probably don’t need to come to Assembly Hall then. Like Lisa Simpson asked in one of her dream sequences: “why would they show up at our concert just to boo us?”
I’m with John Groce on this one. Although I do disagree with his playing the veterans more and the freshmen less.
Paul M. Banks is the owner of The Sports Bank.net, an affiliate of Fox Sports. An MBA and Fulbright scholar, he’s also an analyst for multiple news talk radio stations across the country; with regular weekly segments on ESPN, NBC, CBS and Fox Sports Radio. A former writer for NBC Chicago and the Washington Times, he’s also been featured on the History Channel. President Barack Obama follows him on Twitter (@paulmbanks)Powered by Sidelines Follow paulmbanks