For Illini fans, the long national nightmare is over. After being spurned by Shaka Smart and Brad Stevens, enduring reported meddling by the Board of Trustees, and a twitter campaign launched by the players last night to name assistant Jerrance Howard head coach, AD Mike Thomas has finally landed a coach.
Groce brought his Ohio squad to the sweet sixteen this year, where they lost an overtime thriller against UNC. He has a 34-30 record in the MAC over the last four years (?) but has gotten his team in the tourney twice. He worked as an assistant at OSU under Thad Matta, where he has been credited with landing both Mike Conley and Greg Oden. He’ll need to bring that recruiting acumen to Champaign, because the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting that top Illini assistant (and current interim head coach) Jerrance Howard may be leaning towards a more “attractive position.” That would certainly be a blow to the Fighting Illini, but for now fans can rest assured that at least they’ll have a warm body manning the sidelines next year.