Tracy Abrams, the Illini junior point guard who missed most of last Sunday’s game at Indiana because of back spasms, “looked good” on Thursday and Friday and should be in the starting lineup Saturday night against Iowa, according to coach John Groce.
“He’s doing better,” Groce said. “He has had [back spasms] really all year. … We’ve been fortunate enough that none of the frequency of the back spasms had really come to light on a game night until Sunday.”
“But he fights through it. He’s a winner — we all know that. … If Tracy can play, he’ll play. He’s a pretty tough kid.”
Abrams is second on the team in scoring at 12.1 points per game, but he’s the latest Illini player to be mired in a wicked slump. He has shot just 23-for-75 (30.7 percent) from the field over his last seven games, dragging his season field goal percentage down to .366. On three-point attempts, that percentage is way down at .254.
Abrams is a dangerous penetrator and a strong defender, though, and Groce speaks often of his improved leadership.
“He’s more of an every-day [effort] guy now, maybe, than he was a year ago,” Groce said. “He understands the value of that. I think he appreciates that more, embraces it more. And in a lot of areas — whether it’s academics, whether it’s personal choices, whether it’s how he practices — he exemplifies a lot of what we want to be about culturally.”