Illinois’ John Groce expresses regret over outburst Saturday vs. Michigan State

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After starting Big Ten play with wins over Indiana and Penn State, Illinois has hit a rough patch in the form of a four-game losing streak. The most recent of those defeats came on Saturday night, with the Fighting Illini dropping a 78-62 decision to No. 3 Michigan State in Champaign.

On what was a frustrating night head coach John Groce allowed his emotions to get the best of him, earning a technical foul for his efforts. On Wednesday Groce expressed regret about his outburst, which included Groce throwing his jacket in anger and ultimately being hit with a technical foul.

“For me, my entire life — passion, energy, emotion is a positive thing,” Groce said according to the Associated Press. “The difference between emotion and emotional is two letters. … I broke that line of emotion and, the two-letter difference, emotional.”

Groce also noted that he he didn’t provide his players with the best example of how to handle tough moments on the floor. The outburst didn’t cost his team the game, but Groce was right to note that his behavior wasn’t the best way to handle things regardless of his issues with the officiating. And the “do as I say, not as I do” approach isn’t a good one to use when teaching any pupil, be it a small child or a college athlete.

Next up for Illinois is a game against No. 17 Ohio State Thursday night in Columbus, with both teams in need of a win to turn things around. The Buckeyes have lost four straight as well, and like the Fighting Illini offensive struggles have played a role in the lack of success.

Illinois has shot no better than 38.5% (against Purdue) in any of its last four games while Ohio State’s best offensive performance came in their home loss to Iowa, as the Buckeyes managed to shoot 44.6% from the field. Ohio State, who doesn’t have the marquee scorer that last season’s group possessed (Deshaun Thomas), has also allowed each of its last four opponents to shoot 45.6% or better from the field with both Minnesota and Nebraska shooting at least 50%.

While the matchup represents opportunity for both teams it will also be a challenge, especially for an Illinois program that has lost its last four games in Columbus (last win: 2009).

Knee injury temporarily sidelines Memphis assistant

Toronto Raptors vs Charlotte Hornets
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With practices beginning this weekend, not only are players looking to avoid the injury bug but their coaches are as well. And in the case of Memphis, the Tigers won’t have one of their assistants on the court for a little while due to a knee injury.

Assistant coach Damon Stoudamire, who returned to Josh Pastner’s staff this summer after a two-year stint at Arizona, suffered the injury during a recent workout according to L. Jason Smith of the Memphis Commercial-Appeal. And Stoudamire will require surgery, which will put him on the shelf for a little bit.

“He was working out himself and I think he thought he was in his rookie year,” Pastner said. “We think he’s got a torn meniscus, which will require surgery and put him out for a couple of days.”

Stoudamire isn’t the only assistant coach working through pain either. Syracuse’s Mike Hopkins, who is also Jim Boeheim’s heir apparent as head coach, suffered a neck injury body surfing during a family vacation last month. Hopkins spent some time in a neck brace while putting players through workouts as a result of the injury.

As for the Tigers, they’ll have a mixture of experience on the perimeter and youth in the front court as they look to get back to the NCAA tournament after missing out last season. Among the newcomers are talented forwards Dedric and K.J. Lawson, with experienced guards such as Kedren Johnson, Trahson Burrell and Ricky Tarrant (grad transfer from Alabama) expected to be key contributors on the perimeter.

Duke figuring out approach for this season

Duke University head basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski speaks with the media about the Blue Devils' 2013-14 basketball season, Wednesday, March 26, 2014, in Durham, N.C. (Chuck Liddy/Raleigh News & Observer/MCT via Getty Images)
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Duke is coming off of a national championship but the roster will look almost completely different for the 2015-16 season. That means last season’s approach to things on the offensive and defensive end will have to change and head coach Mike Krzyzewski mentioned to reporters on Friday how the Blue Devils are still figuring some things out.

“We’re putting in a different offensive system, to personalize it for these guys,” Krzyzewski said to reporters. “And a different defensive system so that we can max out on the talents that they have.

“We’re really proud of our team. I think we’re going to be a really good team.”

Without Jahlil Okafor in the middle, Duke’s offense could shift to a mostly perimeter-oriented team, as the wing and guard depth is superior for this year’s group.  Coach K and his staff making adjustments to schemes to fit personnel is a nice move from the Hall of Famer, as he’s done a better job in recent years of making adjustments like this after his stint with USA Basketball.

As the program moves on from Okafor, Tyus Jones, Justise Winslow and Quinn Cook, it’ll be intriguing to see who emerges as a potential go-to offensive player early in the season and how Duke’s offense potentially evolves as the season wears on.