The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Sports

March 13, 2014

Familiar foe for Illini

Illinois, Indiana will play Big Ten Tournament opener

(Continued)

"What does that get you at 11 o'clock on Thursday, hopefully a little momentum and confidence. The team that plays the best 40 minutes — or whatever it takes — is going to prevail. I do think the way we've played gives us momentum and confidence.''

Groce said that every team wants to be improving at this time of the season.

"If you can win in the process of improving, that's even better,'' he said. "We just want to keep building on how we've been playing. I don't know if that changes heading into the conference tournament.

"We want to continue to be aggressive, attack and be loose. I want them to have fun. This is a fun time of the year.''

After playing 31 games, Groce knows that there is nothing really new that either Illinois or Indiana will feature in today's contest, with the winner advancing to play the top-seeded Michigan Wolverines in a 11 a.m. contest on Friday.

"The biggest thing is getting our minds and bodies ready to compete at the highest level that we possibly can,'' he said. "You also need to have a little toughness and we will see if we can make a few plays. Those are the keys in March — whether its a conference tournament or another postseason tournament.''

While Illinois has won four of its last five contest, Indiana comes into today's game with back-to-back losses and setbacks in three of its last five games.

Indiana coach Tom Crean, who is 101-96 in five years with the Hoosiers, believes the success of the Illini can be attributed to their defense.

"I think they are just trying to control tempo,'' he said. "They are much like Ohio State in that they create a lot of turnovers with the way if you're loose with the basketball. If you drive it into traffic, they make you pay for that. They are very strong defensively. They are opportunistic with their running game. The bottom line is that they are making it hard for you to get good looks and they expose you if you over-handle. And they are rebounding at a high rate. Those are the things that stand out the most to me.''

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NJCAA Tourney Photos 2014


Check out the action at the NJCAA Division II National Men's Basketball Tournament March 18-22 at DACC. Buy photos from the Commercial-News here: http://smu.gs/1iCWKnP

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