Act like you’ve been there before!

Expectations are an important thing!  Check out this article about new Illinois Basketball Coach John Groce.  Source-

Men’s college basketball: Groce preaches mental toughness

Illinois coach wants same culture he had at Ohio

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — If there was a moment that got John Groce to Illinois, it might have been the instant when the buzzer sounded and Ohio upset Michigan in the NCAA Tournament.

While everything around him in Nashville, Tenn., was chaos and the shrieks of the students on Court Street back in Athens, overwhelmed the microphones on the cameras and phones they held high to capture the moment, Bobcats guard D.J. Cooper got to his teammates and put a lid on what was about to happen.

“Cooper grabbed the guys and said, ‘Act like you’ve been there before.’ He didn’t want any celebration,” Groce said. “Immediately. Because he knew.”

Knew that if the 13th-seed Bobcats did the natural thing and went wild after the 65-60 win over Michigan, they’d be acknowledging they weren’t supposed to win. And might not win again. The Bobcats, the coach said, controlled themselves, won another game and eventually took North Carolina to overtime in the Sweet 16 because of one quality.

“Those kids were so tough mentally,” Groce said while sitting in his new office at Illinois, where he is taking over for the fired Bruce Weber. “Coming back from deficits, not tying our effort on the defensive end to whether shots were going in on the offensive end, staying together, being unflappable.”

If you asked Weber, fired after Illinois finished 17-15 following a 15-3 start, what one trait his team could have used, that same kind of toughness would be it. He said as much as the season slipped away, talking about what he said was his own failure to create a culture of toughness.

Groce says he wants to build that sort of culture: “Toughness and leadership in that area, of having a mentally tough guy to help the team, that’s invaluable.”

Illinois pursued bigger-name coaches — Shaka Smart and Brad Stevens among them — before courting the 40-year-old Groce, who takes over in Champaign under less-than-ideal circumstances.

The team, which finished ninth in the 12-school Big Ten this season, is losing its best player, 7-foot-1 center Meyers Leonard, for the NBA draft. And Groce will have to recruit in Chicago, where a number of high-school and AAU coaches have already insisted they don’t know him in spite of his history of finding at least a few players in the city.

None of that, he says, bothers him.

“I can’t really get caught up in it,” he said. “I tell the players all the time, control the controllables.”

It’s early, but his talk of attack — a word he uses a lot — is what many of his players want to hear.

“That’s how I’m used to playing,” said guard D.J. Richardson, a junior who said he’d spent a little time watching Ohio to get an idea of what to expect. “They like to get out and run.”

But fans hoping for a replay of the fastest moments of the 1989 Flyin’ Illini, the up-tempo team Weber’s squads were often unfavorably compared with, might want to temper that hope. Groce, sounding a bit like Weber, says his teams must be able to grind out wins, too, sometimes with a methodical half-court game and — he says it again — toughness, like his Bobcats.

“I think a great example of that, the Carolina game where we got stung early and got down 15,” he said. “And those kids just kept fighting and fighting and fighting — and got themselves back in the game.

“And that’s the type of mentality that we want to have here, that fight, that being able to grind it. Sometimes it’s not pretty.”

About these ads

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s