The Ohio Bobcats made it official Friday, announcing former Ohio State assistant John Groce as its new head basketball coach. Groce succeeds Tim O'Shea who spent seven seasons behind the Ohio bench before resigning earlier this week to accept the head coaching position at Bryant University.
"It's definitely a great day to be a Bobcat," said a beaming Jim Schaus as the Ohio athletic director introduced the sixteenth head coach in the history of Ohio men's basketball.
Immediately prior to being named the Bobcats' head coach, Groce was part of an Ohio State staff under head coach Thad Matta that racked up 105 victories, a pair of Big Ten titles and a trip to the NCAA National Championship game in 2007, something that Schaus referenced in his decision to bring Groce onboard.
"John has been around winners all of his career and that is not a coincidence," noted Schaus. "We tried to find the very best person across the country in our search and we feel we have done just that. He has been consistently mentioned among the top five assistants nationally, has been around first class programs and has a shared vision for excellence."
"Our goal is to contend and compete for a championship year in and year out," stated Groce in discussing his new post. "This is a dream come true - to be around a program with the tradition and vision of Ohio. This week has been a real whirlwind. The tradition here is incredible."
Asked why he chose to accept the Ohio post when reports had surfaced that he had declined to pursue similar coaching opportunities, Groce related a conversation with his former boss, Ohio State head coach Thad Matta, shortly after the news broke that O'Shea was leaving as the Bobcats' head coach.
"Thad called me and told me that the Ohio job was opening up and that this was a great opportunity and I should pursue it," said Groce. "After I met with everyone I spoke again with Thad and he said the question wasn't whether I should take the job but why wouldn't I take the job."
"When doors open you can choose to bust through, put one foot in the door or back away," stated Groce. "I decided to bust through the door. It was really a no-brainer decision."
Groce indicated that he has already met with the team and will shortly begin the process of assembling a staff. "I plan to find the very best staff possible and am open to considering different things." Groce did not indicate if he had met with any of the Bobcats' current coaching staff or if he plans on retaining any of the current assistant coaches.
Touching on the style of play he plans on implementing, Groce described his game plan as "attacking through adaptability," adding that "We're going to attack and go after people," but quickly indicated that he would not force a style on a team not suited for such a plan. "I would be foolish to not design a system that fits a team's personality and strengths."
Groce also comes to Ohio with a solid reptuation as one of the nations' top recrutiers, having been named by Rivals.com as "Recruiter of the Year" in 2006. Groce was responsible for bringing players such as Greg Oden, Mike Conley and Daequan Cook to Ohio State.
Prior to spending the past four seasons at Ohio State, Groce was part of Thad Matta's staff at Xavier from 2001-2004 as well as spending time on the bench for one season with Matta at Butler (2000-2001). Groce also served on Herb Sendek's staff at North Carolina State from 1996-2000, thus becoming the eighth former Sendek assistant to become a head coach.
Groce began his coaching career at his alma mater, NAIA member Taylor University in Indiana where, as a player, he helped guide the team to a 34-4 mark and a berth in the NAIA Final Four in 1991.
Terms of Groce's deal were not immediately available.