First-year Illinois coach John Groce is poised to make sure his team puts forth its best effort every game.
He'll be looking for a much more inspired performance - and some considerably better shooting - as the No. 23 Fighting Illini try to avoid a third consecutive defeat Thursday night against visiting Northwestern.
Groce didn't waste any time calling his team out after Saturday's 74-51 loss at Wisconsin. He felt Illinois (14-4, 1-3 Big Ten) played hard in an 84-67 home defeat to then-No. 8 Minnesota on Jan. 9, but then watched his team fall behind 14-0 and by 20 at halftime against the Badgers.
"(Wisconsin's) competitive spirit was better than ours to start the game,'' said Groce, whose team went 2 for 14 from 3-point range in its lowest scoring game of the season. "That is unacceptable. That is not what we're about.
"I'm going to evaluate every guy, starting with competitive, physical, mental toughness type plays. Everything's open at this point."
Whether that means a lineu...