CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) — Illinois coach John Groce said Wednesday that he regrets an outburst that included throwing his suit jacket and yelling at officials during a loss to Michigan State.
“For me, my entire life — passion, energy, emotion is a positive thing,” Groce said as the Illini prepared for Thursday’s game at No. 17 Ohio State. “The difference between emotion and emotional is two letters. … I broke that line of emotion and, the two-letter difference, emotional.”
Groce’s outburst followed a series of heated exchanges with officials in both the loss to the Spartans and the previous loss to Purdue. Illinois (13-6, 2-4 Big Ten) has lost four in a row.
Groce was assessed a technical foul after throwing his suit jacket, but he doesn’t believe he hurt his team. But he said he didn’t provide a good example of how players should handle themselves in tough situations.
“I can’t ask them to do that and then I don’t do that,” he said, adding that he spoke to both his wife and his father about his outburst.
The Illini are in the middle of a tough Big Ten stretch. Illinois over the next 13 days will face the Buckeyes (15-4, 2-4), Indiana, No. 10 Iowa and No. 9 Wisconsin.
During the loss to the Spartans, Groce came off the bench frequently to complain.
“You’ve got to stop! You’ve got to stop!” referee Bo Boroski warned him a few minutes before the technical was called.
Groce said after the game that he didn’t believe new rule changes intended to create more offense were being called consistently, a contention Spartans coach Tom Izzo agreed with after the game.
The Buckeyes are playing through their own four-game slump, meaning both teams are anxious for any kind of win, Groce said.
“Both teams, you know, pride starts to settle in a little bit, pride in terms of where both of us are at right now,” he said.
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