The Commercial-News, Danville, IL


March 9, 2013

Illini coach Groce returns home

COLUMBUS, OHIO — Illinois men’s basketball coach John Groce called the state of Ohio home for eight years before coming to Champaign-Urbana.

Today, for the first time as the coach of the Fighting Illini, he will take his team into his old stomping grounds as Illinois will be the 14th-rated Ohio State Buckeyes in a 11:30 a.m. game today at the Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio.

And Groce will see an old friend standing on the Ohio State sidelines as his former boss, Hoopeston native Thad Matta, will try to lead the Buckeyes to a fifth-consecutive win.

“I spent a lot of time in the state,” Groce said. “My son, Conner, was born there and it was a great part of our lives. We still have a lot of friends there, but as I said before the first game with Ohio State, once the ball tips, it’s a game.”

And, it’s a very important game for both teams as the seedings for next week’s Big Ten Tournament will be decided after today’s action in the conference.

Illinois (21-10 overall, 8-9 in the Big Ten) is guaranteed of playing in a first-round game on Thursday in Chicago, while Ohio State (22-7, 12-5) is looking at a first-round bye coming off an impressive 67-58 win at No. 2 Indiana on Tuesday.

“They are a little bit of a roll, lately,” Groce said. “Their defense has been tremendous, and as you look at the numbers, they have been real consistent throughout the year.”

The same cannot be said for the Fighting Illini, who have been up-and-down during the Big Ten Conference season, and they come into today’s contest after a frustrating 63-55 loss to the Iowa Hawkeyes in Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Tuesday. Illinois has lost two of its last three after winning five straight league games.

“I just don’t think we were as tough as we needed to be and I didn’t think we executed as well as we needed to – especially in the details of what we do on both ends of the floor,” Groce said. “It’s mental. It comes from the mind.

“You have to be mentally ready to go. And if you are mentally locked in, those things that come in toughness areas – you do them well, you do them at a high level because the mental part is there.”

According to Groce, that’s one of the things that Ohio State is doing recently on its winning streak and he credits Matta for the Buckeyes toughness.

“That’s what coaches do and he is really good at it,” said Groce, who was an assistant under Matta for eight seasons. “I had a chance to spend a lot of time with him. He has always done a good job of pushing the right buttons.

“They have always done a good job of playing well late and they are doing that now.”

Both teams have had four days to prepare for today’s regular-season finale in the Big Ten Conference, and Groce has taken the time to get his guys ready for this stretch drive toward a possible NCAA Tournament berth.

“It’s most important that they are mentally and physically fresh,” he said. “I think that is really important this time of the year.”

After today’s game in Columbus, the Illini will have three days to get ready for the Big Ten Tournament at the United Center in Chicago.

Ohio State is led by a trio of juniors. Deshaun Thomas, Lenzelle Smith and Aaron Craft have combined to average 40.5 points per game for the Buckeyes. Thomas lead in scoring (19.8) and rebounding (6.2); while Craft is the team leader in assists (4.4). And on Senior Day in Columbus, Evan Ravenel, a 6-8 forward, will be the only player honored before the contest.

Illinois counters with its backcourt of Brandon Paul, D.J. Richardson and Tracy Abrams. Those three are averaging 40.6 points per game and 7.9 assists per game.

Today’s game will tipoff at 11:30 a.m. The game will be shown on ESPN and it can be heard locally on WDAN-AM 1490 and WDNL-FM 102.1.

Text Only
  • SPT - CN0823 - Danville scrimmage photo 2 Dress rehearsal goes well DANVILLE — The beads of sweat were rolling down the foreheads of the 2014 Danville Vikings as they listened to their coach B.J. Luke.The veteran coach asked his team what they thought about the team’s Friday night scrimmage at the Wayland-Young Athle

    August 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • Bearcats hope to improve MILFORD — Experience will be the name of the game when the Milford/Cissna Park football team takes the field this season. The Bearcats return 17 starters from a year ago, and according to head coach Clint Schwartz, that experience will be a great ass

    August 23, 2014

  • SPT- CN0823- Fountain Central photo 1 Mustangs have no worries in opener VEEDERSBURG, Ind. — Fountain Central head football coach Brian Moore looked at the season opener with Southmont the same way his players look at final exams.“I worried about this game all summer and the last three weeks,” said Moore. “Southmont is on

    August 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • Falcons easily wins opener CAYUGA, Ind. — The North Vermillion football team made quick work of Turkey Run in the season opener for both teams with the Falcons winning 69-6.The Falcons scored 55 of those points in the first quarter with Jacob Earl scoring on a 8 and a 4-yard t

    August 23, 2014

  • Friday's Local Agate PREP FOOTBALLAt Cayuga, Ind.North Vermillion 69, Turkey Run 6Turkey Run 0 0 6 0 — 6N. Vermillion 55 7 0 7 — 69First quarterNV — Jacob Earl 8-yard run (run failed)NV — Earl 4-yard run (Adam Scott kick)NV — Ethan Lee 4-yard run (A

    August 23, 2014

  • SPT- CN0822 - HA photo 2 New era for HA, Schlarman HOOPESTON — A new era for Hoopeston Area and Schlarman Academy begins this year as they have combined forces for the upcoming Vermilion Valley Conference football season. The nine-game schedule has five home games this year and both schools will host

    August 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • Devils find their first opponent BISMARCK — After Chicago Hawkins dropped football, the Bismarck-Henning football team was hoping to fill a slot for Aug. 30 and it is now filled.The Blue Devils will start the season on the road with a trip to Carmi-White County High School at 2 p.m.

    August 22, 2014

  • Thursday's Local Sports Scores PREP BOYS GOLF At Gibson City At Railside G.C. (Par 36) Team results — 1. Bismarck-Henning 166, 2. Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley 172 Medalist — David Warren (BH) 35. Bismarck-Henning (166) — Warren 35, Hunter Keigh 40, Josh Heidrick 44, Noah Campbell 47

    August 22, 2014

  • SPT - CN0821 - GeoRF photo 1 Realizing potential GEORGETOWN — Ask almost anyone in Vermilion County about the Georgetown-Ridge Farm football team and the typical response you will get will talk about their talent.And this season is no different.The Buffaloes return 10 starters from last year’s play

    August 21, 2014 2 Photos

  • Vikings compete in Classic BLOOMINGTON — The Danville boys golf team ended up 22nd as a team at the Raider Classic at the Den Golf Course on WednesdayReed Krynski led the Vikings with a score of 91 on the par 72 course, with Christian Montgomery scoring a 97, Tristan Wolfe an

    August 21, 2014

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:

Must Read
AP Video
Furry Roommates: Dorms Allowing Cats and Dogs Chase Rice Defends Bro-Country 'Jersey Shore Massacre' Pokes Fun at MTV Series Raw: Wash. Mudslides Close Roads, Trap Motorists DC's Godfather of Go-Go Honored Ukraine Calls Russian Convoy a 'direct Invasion' Girl Meets Her 'one in the World' Match Coal Gas Boom in China Holds Climate Risks Japan Landslide Rescuers Struggle in Heavy Rain Raw: Severe Floods, Fire Wrecks Indiana Homes Endangered Red Wolves Face Uncertain Future Raw: Russian Aid Convoy Arrives in Ukraine Okla. Policeman Accused of Sex Assaults on Duty Dominican Republic Bans Miley Cyrus Concert Raw: Israeli Air Strike in Gaza Raw: Bodies of MH17 Victims Arrive in Malaysia Attorney: Utah Eatery Had Other Chemical Burn
NDN Video
School serves diabetic girl trashcan pizza Battle of the Butts at the 2014 MTV VMAs! Four-Year-Old Reviews Exclusive Restaurant's $295 Fixed Price Menu Mariah Orders Nick Cannon to Stay Quiet About Divorce Details U.S. Military Strategy Against ISIS The London Zoo holds its annual animal weigh-in VIDEO: Goliath Grouper eats shark in one bite Rapper Almost Walks Off CNN Over Ferguson Coverage 2 American Ebola Patients Released From Hospital Whoa! Jimmy Fallon Shaves Jared Leto's Beard US Mission to Rescue Hostages in Syria Failed Reggie Jackson's ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Amazing Encounter With Sea Otter Caught on Video Motorcyclist Sticks Landing Sicilian hilltop homes on sale for one euro Are Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon Breaking Up? Joel McHale Interviews Chelsea This 'Breaking Bad' Reunion is the Most Hilarious Thing You'll See All Day! President Obama talks about who James Foley was Nicki Minaj Unleashes Her 'Anaconda' On the World