John Groce

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John Groce
20130126 John Groce.jpg
Sport(s) Basketball
Biographical details
Born (1971-09-07) September 7, 1971 (age 45)
Muncie, Indiana
Playing career
1991–1994 Taylor
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1993–1996 Taylor (asst.)
1996–2000 NC State (asst.)
2000–2001 Butler (asst.)
2001–2004 Xavier (asst.)
2004–2008 Ohio State (asst.)
2008–2012 Ohio
2012–2017 Illinois
Head coaching record
Overall 180-131 (.579)
Accomplishments and honors
MAC Tournament championships (2010, 2012)

John Gordon Groce (/ɡrs/[1]) (born September 7, 1971) is an American college basketball coach and was the head coach of the University of Illinois Fighting Illini men's basketball team.

Player and assistant coach[edit]

Groce graduated from Taylor University, an NAIA Division II school in Upland, Indiana, in 1994 and played basketball for the school while he was there.[1][2] Groce started his coaching career as an assistant with his alma mater, Taylor University, under Paul Patterson from 1993 to 1996. His next job was an assistant at North Carolina State University under Herb Sendek from 1996 to 2000. He then moved on to Butler University to join his good friend Thad Matta and was there just one season (2000–01). Together they then moved onto Xavier University where he was an assistant from 2001 to 2004, and moved again with Matta to Ohio State University as an assistant from 2004 to 2008.

Ohio University[edit]

He was named as the head men's basketball coach at Ohio University on June 27, 2008, replacing Tim O'Shea, who resigned to take the head coach position at Bryant University.[3] Groce was at Ohio from 2008 to 2012 and led the school to the NCAA Tournament twice. Qualifying as a #14 seed in 2010, Groce led the Bobcats to an upset win over Georgetown in the first round. In 2012, Groce led the #13 seed Bobcats all the way to the Sweet Sixteen, where they suffered a 73–65 overtime loss to North Carolina.[4][5] Ohio had not been that far in the tournament since 1964.[5] In four seasons at Ohio, Groce was 85–56 overall and 34–30 in Mid-American Conference games.[1][5]

University of Illinois[edit]

Groce finalized negotiations to become the men's basketball head coach at the University of Illinois on March 28, 2012, after both Shaka Smart and Brad Stevens declined interest in the position.[6] The Illini started 12-0 in 2012 under Groce, the best start for a first year coach in the team's modern era.[7] The team won the 2012 Maui Invitational by defeating Butler University in the championship game. The season took a turn for the worse, however, as Illinois finished the year with a losing conference record at 8-10. Since 2013, John Groce has reversed Illinois' prior, four-game losing streak in the annual Braggin' Rights interstate rivalry against the University of Missouri by winning the contest for four straight seasons. During their 2014 season, Illinois' success in the month of November improved to 21-0 under Groce and 32-0 overall since 2010. Until losing five non-conference games in 2015, Illinois was the only program in the nation with an undefeated November record dating back to 2011.[8]

Groce's stated top priority at Illinois is getting his players to buy into and demonstrate the values of what he calls Toughness and Togetherness, or "T-n-T".[9] To motivate his team during the 2013 season, he had his players wear wristbands that read "3-19-13"—the starting date of the 2013 NCAA Tournament. Before the end of their 2016 season, new Illinois AD Josh Whitman gave John Groce a vote of confidence, praising his leadership and stating that "John Groce is going to continue to be our basketball coach."[10] He was fired on Saturday, March 11 after failing to make the NCAA tournament for four consecutive seasons.

On March 11, 2017, John Groce was relieved of his duties, two days after the Illini lost its Big Ten Tournament opening-round game to Michigan.[11]

Head coaching record[edit]

Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
Ohio Bobcats (Mid-American Conference) (2008–2012)
2008–09 Ohio 15–17 7–9 6th (East)
2009–10 Ohio 22–15 7–9 5th (East) NCAA Second Round
2010–11 Ohio 19–16 9–7 3rd (East) CIT Quarterfinals
2011–12 Ohio 29–8 11–5 3rd (East) NCAA Sweet Sixteen
Ohio: 85–56 (.603) 34–30 (.531)
Illinois Fighting Illini (Big Ten Conference) (2012–2017)
2012–13 Illinois 23–13 8–10 T–7th NCAA Third Round
2013–14 Illinois 20–15 7–11 T–8th NIT Second Round
2014–15 Illinois 19–14 9–9 T–7th NIT First Round
2015–16 Illinois 15–19 5–13 12th
2016–17 Illinois 18–14 8–10 9th
Illinois: 95–75 (.559) 37–53 (.411)
Total: 180–131 (.579)

      National champion         Postseason invitational champion  
      Conference regular season champion         Conference regular season and conference tournament champion
      Division regular season champion       Division regular season and conference tournament champion
      Conference tournament champion


  1. ^ a b c University of Illinois got lucky with John Groce hiring - ESPN Chicago
  2. ^ pg. 36 of the Summer 2007 edition of Taylor: A Magazine for Taylor University Alumni and Friends ISSN 1073-4376 "Coach Patterson used to tell me be the 'Big time' wherever you are...I'm not the guy who chases jobs. I feel fortunate to be at Ohio State. I love being here. We want to be the best we can every day."
  3. ^ Groce Named Head Men's Basketball Coach at Ohio :: Becomes 16th head coach in program history
  4. ^ Ohio Bobcats vs. North Carolina Tar Heels - NCAA Tournament Game - Recap - March 23, 2012 - ESPN
  5. ^ a b c Illinois Fighting Illini introduces Ohio Bobcats' John Groce as new coach - ESPN Chicago
  6. ^ Illinois considering Ohio University's John Groce - CBSSports
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ (PDF) Retrieved 29 November 2014.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  9. ^ [2]
  10. ^ "Fighting Illini AD gives vote of confidence to John Groce". ESPN. Retrieved 6 March 2016. 
  11. ^ Gertsmeier, Matt. "The Daily Illini : Groce out as head coach for Illinois men's basketball - The Daily Illini". Retrieved 2017-03-11. 

External links[edit]