CHAMPAIGN — John Groce’s eyes were still slightly red.
Moments earlier he had hoisted his shirtless, giggling son high into the air while standing on the fringe of the basketball bedlam that raged on around him. When Tyler Griffey’s last-instant layup sealed a 74-72 upset of No. 1-ranked Indiana, Groce had doubled over at the waist, exhaling deeply and practically melting into a puddle of emotion.
Now the party was on.
He had coached, exhorted and fist-pumped his University of Illinois basketball team back from the brink of defeat and now, having settled into his chair in the post-game interview area, Groce knew it was nearly time to shift gears.
After some introductory words of gratitude, relief and praise for his players, Groce issued a cautionary warning that coaches feel obligated to do.
“It’s a big win, but in three days we play in Minneapolis against a really good Minnesota team,” said Groce, who was flanked by Griffey and fellow senior Brandon Paul. “When we wake up tomorrow we can’t be absorbed with one game, win or lose.
“We’ll make the trip to Minnesota and hopefully pack our defense like we did late in this game.”
Groce knew the emotions of Thursday’s victory over