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Akron hires former Illinois head coach John Groce

Illinois+head+coach+John+Groce+watches+his+team+from+the+sideline+during+Illinois%27+78-68+loss+to+Michigan+at+State+Farm+Center+on+Wednesday%2C+December+30.
Illinois head coach John Groce watches his team from the sideline during Illinois' 78-68 loss to Michigan at State Farm Center on Wednesday, December 30.

Illinois head coach John Groce watches his team from the sideline during Illinois' 78-68 loss to Michigan at State Farm Center on Wednesday, December 30.

Austin Yattoni

Austin Yattoni

Illinois head coach John Groce watches his team from the sideline during Illinois' 78-68 loss to Michigan at State Farm Center on Wednesday, December 30.

Matt Gertsmeier, Columnist

Former Illinois basketball coach John Groce has become the Akron’s head coach.

Illinois hired Groce on March 28, 2012 and accumulated an overall record of 95-75 before being fired March 11, 2017. He posted a 37-53 Big Ten record and made one NCAA tournament appearance in his five seasons with the Illini.

This will be the 45-year-old coach’s second stint in the MAC conference. Before coming to Illinois, Groce coached Ohio for four seasons from 2008-2012. During his time with the Bobcats, Groce won two conference tournaments and had an overall record of 85-56. He and Ohio reached the Sweet 16 in 2012.

The Akron position opened up after Keith Dambrot left for the Duquesne head coaching job. Dambrot spent 13 seasons as head coach for the Zips and achieved a record of 305-139. He and Akron appeared in three NCAA tournaments but lost in each of its opening round games.

Akron has four regular season conference championships, three conference tournament championships and has only been to four NCAA tournaments in program history. The Zips have never won a game in the tournament.

Groce joins an Akron team that is graduating its top two scorers. The Zips will most likely look to Antino Jackson and Jimond Ivey for production next season. Jackson averaged about 11 points per game while Ivey put up about 10 per game this past season.

The Zips went 27-9 this past year and finished first in the MAC East Division with a 14-4 conference record. Akron achieved the overall No. 1 seed for the conference tournament and lost to Kent State in the championship game.

The Zips were invited to the NIT as a No. 7 seed and lost in the second round to UT Arlington.

Groce may have an opportunity to do some recruiting to add talent to the roster. Akron only has one national letter of intent signed by one-star forward Eric Parrish.

Groce will be introduced Thursday morning.

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@MattGertsmeier

Matt is a Junior in Business

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