John Groce began his coaching career in Indiana, funneled towards Ohio, and arrived in the Land on Lincoln only last season. Still, he's got some wonderful Illini memories in that bald dome.
Illinois' matchup with Penn St. on Saturday has been scheduled as the official Flyin' Illni 25th Anniversary celebration, and during the pregame press conference, Coach Groce praised and remembered the team.
#illini Groce: 89 huge part of tradition. They were entertaining. Whe he took Illini job, that was the first team that came to mind.— Jeremy Werner (@WernerESPNCU) January 3, 2014
#Illini coach Groce: Steve Kelly asks for Groce's favorite Flyin' Illini player and he says first thing that comes to mind is Battle's dunks— Marcus Jackson (@MarcusJ_NG) January 3, 2014
The University posted a wonderful piece on the 1988-89 team this week (read it here). It's exciting to remember their excitement, or at least what I hear of it (I wasn't born). It's even more exciting to have the current coach embrace that history.
When asked about Saturday's ceremonies and their effect on Saturday's game, Groce answered in the coolest way possible.
#illini Groce on Flyin Illini reunion: "It's not a distraction. It should be inspirational."— Jeremy Werner (@WernerESPNCU) January 3, 2014
Everytime I sit down to write a word about John Groce, it comes out like a love letter. Because it is. He's a treasure.
Coach was also asked about the moment shown in gif form below.
Watch the entire press conference below.