Mark Tupper's blog

Groce already a very busy man

2012-04-03T14:51:00Z 2012-04-05T07:42:39Z Groce already a very busy manMark Tupper
April 03, 2012 2:51 pm  • 

Meyers Leonard was supposed to meet with the media Tuesday morning, but due to a scheduling conflict, the session was postponed, hopefully to be rescheduled next week.

John Groce was going to visit with us after that, so that’s been pushed back, too.

Groce has already been a very, very busy man.

He had a second assistant coaching candidate in town Tuesday after hiring Jamall Walker from his Ohio University team on Monday. Walker’s hiring was expected. He played at St. Louis University and was the main recruiter on Ohio’s best player, D.J. Cooper, who they plucked out of Seton Academy in Chicago. So he has experience recruiting in the big city.

I’m not optimistic on Jerrance Howard, however, although I’ve not heard that from Jerrance. But we should all understand that it’s a dicey dynamic for Groce. If Jerrance stays, who do the players run to whenever there’s a problem? Jerrance. And, frankly, Jerrance has head coaching aspirations and needs to put something on his resume that doesn’t say Illinois.

I love the guy, but the timing might not be right.

That said, it will hurt if John Calipari hires him at Kentucky (he has tried to in the past) or if Bill Self feels Jerrance is what Kansas needs to fill Danny Manning’s spot now that Manning has taken over at Tulsa.

With Leonard turning pro, Groce now faces a roster without a proven big man.

It would be nice to project that Nnanna Egwu makes the same progress Leonard made from his freshman to sophomore season. But no one knows that.

The good thing is that Egwu will work his tail off, he’s very coachable and he can run. And it sounds like Groce’s offense will favor the fleet of foot.

That said, I would expect Groce to investigate junior college big men. Illinois needs experience in the post because the Big Ten is going to be loaded again.

ESPN’s Andy Katz posted his early 2012-13 Top 25 and Indiana is the pre-season No. 1 (presuming that Cody Zeller returns) followed by Louisville, Kansas, Kentucky and Ohio State. He has Michigan State No. 7 and Michigan No. 8, as long as point guard Trey Burke comes back. And he has Wisconsin at No. 21.

So making progress against the upper division of the Big Ten will not be easy.

That’s OK. One reason I like John Groce early-on is that I don’t think he’s easily discouraged because something is tough. I think he’s a scrapper.

By the way, new Kansas State coach Bruce Weber has told people he plans to return to Champaign for the annual Kiwanis Illini Basketball Awards Banquet next Tuesday. (It’s a dead time for recruiting so that shouldn’t be an issue). That should make for an interesting night, and good for Weber for returning. This is his team and he’ll receive a rousing thank you and sendoff from his loyal friends in the Kiwanis Club.

Weber has good feelings for most everyone in Champaign, with the exception of the man who fired him, AD Mike Thomas.

But Thomas understands how these things work. Remember, he did not attend the football awards banquet shortly after firing Ron Zook. He understood that was Zook’s night to honor his team and to say farewell.

This will be Weber’s night and Thomas won’t infringe.

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(9) Comments

  1. ronh
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    ronh - April 11, 2012 12:16 pm
    I couldn't log in by going to the blog first; but I got in on the home page. I'm not sure what the difference is.

    I can't believe Abrams was more valuable than Leonard but who am I to decide. Seems strange to me.

    I can't determine how to identify specific blogs from one time to the next since they are not dated or a time attached. I'll have to figure a way to do that so the next time I sign in I will know where I left off.

    Good luck to JH. I can understand Groce wanting a clean slate and who is to say how he and JH would have meshed? I know JH was oranage and blue all the way.
  2. Basketball Jones
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    Basketball Jones - April 11, 2012 10:25 am
    Groce has been holding workouts with the returning players. Now he has decided not to retain the "lead" recruiter? Maybe he's not impressed with a group of players, that couldn't even get to the NIT? Would like to see Deon Thomas get added to the staff, but thats Groce's decision to make. Cardinals are starting the season like the Cubbies used to. New FB coach, and New BB coach's, gonna be some interesting season's coming up. The new womens basketball coach, is gonna be interesting to follow, and see if he can keep his string of very good basketball teams going.
  3. Joe J
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    Joe J - April 11, 2012 8:32 am
    The logo I put in my profile months ago finally appears with my comment.
    Groce has decided he wants a clean slate and is letting Howard go. Good luck Jerrance. Maybe some day he comes back as head coach.
    Abrams named team MVP? Says a lot about his team oriented play.
    Weber gives his last "there's no doubt" in a purple tie at the banquet.
  4. Pistol Pete
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    Pistol Pete - April 11, 2012 7:08 am
    Well, Howard won't be retained, so good luck to him. I can understand why Groce would want people with whom he's already familiar. I agree with sug that it will probably be easier to recruit for Groce's system & it sounds like Ford & Walker are good recruiters in addition to Groce. I read an interview yesterday between Klee & Groce & I really liked what I read. IRT recruiting, Groce said they would obviously work Chicago, but they also have contacts in Indiana & around the St. Louis area.
    sug - I haven't read the comments coming from BW & his buddies. Sounds like they didn't think there was a problem with the Illini bball program.
  5. illini4fan
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    illini4fan - April 10, 2012 5:28 pm
    tb i logged in exactly like i always did , scroll to the bottom and hit loggin and put in your email and password.... Sounds like Groce is in good with Nunn, very promising. GO ILLINI
  6. Joe J
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    Joe J - April 10, 2012 4:07 pm
    Was finally able to log in with my actual old email address. Wondered how there was only 3 comments when there was 18 or so earlier.
  7. tb
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    tb - April 10, 2012 3:52 pm
    how do you log in
  8. sugmeister
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    sugmeister - April 10, 2012 3:08 pm
    logging in was easier..... and the website seems faster as well. it has been very painful for me to post anything from home since it takes SO long to refresh.

    saddened to see Jerrance will not be back with the illini. I personally think Groce is making a mistake with this unless he has a real firecracker up his sleeve. I have heard the arguments that JH didn't really do as much as he got credit for but I don't buy that. Illinois recruiting was an absolute train wreck before he came on board and then things picked up dramatically.

    however I do think that whoever takes his place will have a much easier job than JH had. I think recruiting to JG's system will be infinitely easier than to weber's crappy system.

    not happy at all to read some of the comments coming from BW and his buddies. I think they have skewed history very much in his favor. I hate to wish anyone ill fortunes but after reading some of the things I have - it would not cause me any tears to see BW fail at KSU. He will have a great 1st yr because the cupboard is well stocked. wouldn't be surprised to see the last 2 members of his staff be Price and Chester but we shall see.

    hopefully we have our 3rd coach by weeks end and hopefully there is a spot for Deon Thomas, be it the Dir of Bball Opers or Asst to the HC (Nottingham's old position) or something to show we still have some Illinois guys on board.
  9. Pistol Pete
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    Pistol Pete - April 10, 2012 2:50 pm
    Seemed pretty easy to login under this new format. Cards are scoring bunches of runs without Albert. Sounds like Groce is getting to know his new players.
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