Illini coach says he went too far in anger with officials, doesn't think he hurt team

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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