Thibodeau impressed by Illini's Groce

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Illinois fans aren’t the only ones expecting first-year coach John Groce to quickly turn the Illini basketball program around.

Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau is also anticipating the same.

“I think he’s going to do a terrific job,” Thibodeau sair prior to the Bulls' 86-83 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers at Assembly Hall on Friday. “He’s got a lot of energy. It seems like he’s ready for the challenge.”

Thibodeau ran into Groce while in Las Vegas this summer, and they talked for a bit.

“He was just getting started with recruiting and stuff,” Thibodeau said. “I was very impressed with him. I think he’s proved to be a great coach, and (the Big Ten) is a great conference, and I think he’ll have a great opportunity.”

Groce texted that he also enjoyed meeting Thibodeau.

“I have a lot of respect for coach Thibodeau,” Groce texted. “His teams play together and are extremely hard to score against.”

Groce was hired by Illinois in March after Bruce Weber was fired. Groce spent the previous four years at Ohio and took the Bobcats to two NCAA Tournaments, including a trip to the Sweet 16.