Illini Coaching Search: Illinois Has 'Tremendous Potential' Says Groce

Speaking with the media for the first time as the head coach of the Illinois Fighting Illini basketball team, John Groce quickly dispelled questions about whether or not the team could be a consistent, national powerhouse:

"This place has tremendous potential. There have been a lot of great players and great coaches here. ... It's a really special place, there's no doubt about that."

Related: Jabari Parker Recruiting: Illinois' Hiring Of John Groce Doesn't Satisfy Parker's AAU Coach

Groce, who had coached the Ohio Bobcats for four seasons before coming to Illinois, said Illinois' return to the national scene was a prerequisite for leaving his job in Ohio:

"If I didn't believe that could happen, I wouldn't be standing up here. I think the 'consistency over greatness' line that (Miami Heat president) Pat Riley uses all the time is what we're all looking for. That's what we want to be about. That's why I mentioned that vision of being a standard of excellence in our conference. And when you do that on a consistent basis, then you get the opportunity to be a player on the national stage regularly. And there's no question that that's the vision."

In the 2011-12 season, Groce led the Ohio Bobcats to a 29-8 record and an appearance in the Midwest Regional Semifinals. The team went 85-56 under coach Groce, winning the highest percentage of games (.784) since 1969-70 (.800) in his final season.

For more on this story, stay with SB Nation Chicago. For more on the Illini check out Hail to the Orange. For more news and notes around the country, stick with SB Nation's college basketball news hub.

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