The University of Akron introduced its new basketball coach today. John Groce comes to Akron after spending the past decade at Ohio University and Illinois, where he notched a combined four NCAA tournament wins.
WKSU sports commentator Terry Pluto says Groce will be a good fit in Akron, since he’s had some success in the Mid-American Conference, and he knows the Midwest.
“He grew up in Indiana; these are his roots. When he goes and walks into local high schools and talks to summer coaches, they know who he is already. That’s a big deal because when he comes in here, he’s going to be expected to win.”
Pluto notes that The Zips had the best regular season in the Mid-American Conference, following three NCAA tournaments under former coach Keith Dambrot, who's left to coach at Duquesne University. He says the challenge for Groce is to sustain the momentum built up by his predecessor.
“For many years -- 15 years before Keith Dambrot got it going here -- there was nothing close to a post-season like NIT or anything else. Furthermore, they never even got to the Mid-American Conference championship game to lose it!”
Pluto adds that Groce plans to concentrate on re-recruiting the Zips’ roster, since college players are often tempted to transfer after a coach leaves.