The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Sports

October 10, 2013

Young Illini search for identity

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Looking around the practice gym Wednesday, point guard Tracy Abrams said he doesn’t yet know what kind of team Illinois will be once the college basketball season begins next month.

“There’s no identity right now,” the junior said of a roster that includes five freshmen and two transfers who haven’t yet played for the Illini.

Abrams will have a major say in shaping that identity.

Abrams is one of just four players back from last season’s 23-13 team, the only one with any serious experience playing the point in college and, according to second-year coach John Groce, one of the key leaders on a very young team.

Abrams has started 51 games in his two seasons at Illinois, but he has not been vocal.

“Ya’ll know I’m pretty quiet,” Abrams told reporters. “Humble about myself.”

Groce thinks he can be something more.

“I think now he’s starting to get it,” Groce said, explaining that Abrams is working to create team chemistry on the court and off, hanging out with new teammates and veterans, trying to pull them together. A year ago, “he wasn’t thinking about that.”

A year ago, Abrams was part of a team that opened with three senior starters and a graduate student who sometimes started, too.

That team made a surprise trip to the NCAA Tournament, riding the sometimes scorching shooting of Brandon Paul, one of those seniors who moved on, as far as it would take them. With the Nov. 8 opener against Alabama State less than a month away, expectations are probably not that high this season.

Along with Abrams, fifth-year senior Joseph Bertrand of Sterling, Ill., will likely be one key piece. He says he’s fully recovered from a torn labrum in his right shoulder that required off-season surgery.

Text Only
Sports
  • Thomas Smith Clinton's Smith to join Leathernecks

    Coming off a junior year in which he missed part of the football season because of injury, Clinton’s Thomas Smith figured he’d have to impress college recruiters with a big senior season for the River Kings.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • L'Kings offensive drought continues

    Shutout for the second time in two nights Saturday in a 2-0 loss to South Bend, the Clinton LumberKings' offense was limited again Sunday, managing just one run in a 4-1 Midwest League baseball loss to the Silver Hawks at Ashford University Field.

    July 28, 2014

  • 7-28-14 1B-Photo, Hall of Fame Thomas, Maddux enter Hall of Fame COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. (AP) — Frank Thomas choked back tears, Joe Torre apologized for leaving people out of his speech and Tony La Russa said he felt uneasy.Being enshrined in the Hall of Fame can have those effects, even on the greats.Thomas, pitchers T

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Interest in Ernst rises as his game does, too

    Brady Ernst is having a summer to remember.
    The rising River King senior is spending the summer playing for the Iowa Barnstormers traveling basketball team. This weekend they're playing in the Fab48 tournament in Las Vegas.

    July 26, 2014

  • Jones leaves UNO program

    Jalen Jones is done with basketball — for now, anyway.
    The 6-foot-5 Clinton High grad who had committed to play for Nebraska-Omaha, has left the program, and according to his Facebook page, has enrolled at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids.
    The enrollment office at the community college confirmed that Jones was registered for classes this fall at Kirkwood. Kirkwood coach Bryan Petersen, a Clinton High graduate, declined to comment and gave no indication that Jones would play basketball for the Eagles this winter.
    "College basketball isn't for everybody," Clinton coach Nick Lawrence said. "A little time away might do him some good."
    Jones came home to Clinton after spending just a few days with the Mavericks, and enrolled to Kirkwood shortly thereafter.
    Jones, the Herald's Player of the Year, averaged 19 points a game for the River Kings in his senior season and finished with the second-most rebounds with 160.
    He shot 41 percent on the floor and 28 percent from 3-point territory. He committed to Omaha before last season started in October.

    July 26, 2014

  • Hawkeyes to offer student tickets to public

    Iowa athletic director Gary Barta says the Hawkeyes will make any unsold student football tickets available to the general public as well on Aug. 1.

    July 25, 2014

  • PHOTOS: Clinton Junior Baseball 2014 Tournament Winners

    Clinton Junior Baseball 2014 Tournament Winners - Majors, Minors, Pee Wee

    July 25, 2014

  • Testimony ends in trial LOS ANGELES (AP) — Testimony ended Wednesday in the trial to determine whether Donald Sterling’s estranged wife can sell the Los Angeles Clippers in a proposed $2 billion deal with former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.Shelly Sterling, who had testified

    July 25, 2014

  • Whitecaps take away Clinton offense CLINTON — The Clinton LumberKings (13-19, 43-57) mustered only five hits as the visiting West Michigan Whitecaps (20-12, 61-41) shut down the hometown club at Ashford University Field.Whitecaps’ starter Jonathon Crawford (6-2) allowed only four men t

    July 25, 2014

  • 7-25-14 1B-Photo, Cubs San Diego sinks Cubs, 13-3 CHICAGO — Tyson Ross kept mowing down Chicago Cubs hitters, long enough for San Diego’s suddenly potent offense to carry the Padres to victory for the second straight night.Ross struck out a career-high 11, and the light-hitting Padres broke out for

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

High School Sports