CHAMPAIGN – Coach John Groce said at first Tracy Abrams protested sitting out Sunday’s exhibition win against Northwood.
The junior point guard wanted to play, but ultimately relented in order to rest a mildly strained hamstring.
“I had to be smart about it. Obviously I wanted to go out there and play,” Abrams said. “I had to be smart about it, rest it and get it better.”
That decision turned out for the best. Abrams is expected to play in Friday’s season opener in the State Farm Center against Alabama State. Whether it be good news or bad news, Groce and Abrams maintain an open line of communication.
“I was out of town (Tuesday) and he called me to tell me he's feeling great,” Groce said. “He's doing well. He'll be ready to go.”
Abrams scored a game-high 16 points in only 19 minutes in the opening exhibition against McKendree.
"Tracy wants to be good," Groce following the game. "He cares at a high level. He's a great kid."
Freshman Jaylon Tate started in Abrams' place Sunday, scoring 11 points and posting four rebounds and three assists. Sophomore Mike LaTulip had 14 points off the bench.
Although he didn’t play in the final exhibition, Abrams was vocal before, during and after the win. That’s the type of leadership Groce has called on the Chicago native to provide this season.
“Obviously it’s a different role for me this year,” Abrams said. “I’ve got to definitely be more of a leader, vocal leader, and help guys out. Definitely going to embrace the role and do whatever I can to help my team.”