One Year After Hire, Illini Enjoying A Groce Profit

Today’s column from CBS Chicago

(CBS) Sometimes, it’s better to be lucky than good.

And one year ago, the Illinois basketball program, from its dismal regular-season performances to its disruptive postseason coaching search, wasn’t good.

But, it turned out that the Illini – and, most significantly, athletic director Mike Thomas – were indeed lucky. And in the end, that was good.

Very good, if you ask me.

On March 29 of last year, the University of Illinois announced John Groce as the 17th men’s basketball coach in school history. For the occasion at Assembly Hall in Champaign, Groce’s wife, Allison, showed up clad in an orange dress that she had coincidentally purchased six weeks before. When asked why she’d bought it, Allison simply said, “I love orange.”

Following Groce’s impressive introductory presser, I wrote, “There’s a great chance that Illini Nation will also come to love John Groce. He’s a good hire. With the right staff, he could be a very good one. In time, the man tied with Penn State’s Patrick Chambers as the youngest coach in the Big Ten (age: 40) could even become a great one. Who knows. We’ll just have to wait and see.”

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