If it weren't for bad luck, the Illini wouldn't have any luck at all.
An offseason of constant injuries got even worse Tuesday, when the team announced junior guard Kendrick Nunn will miss the next eight weeks while recovering from surgery to repair a torn ligament in his thumb. He'll have surgery Wednesday.
Head coach John Groce told reporters at Big Ten basketball media day last week that Nunn injured his thumb, the reason why the junior and Chicago native wasn't in attendance. He had no update on the extent of the injury then.
Nunn was injured during practice, Groce and fellow junior guard Malcolm Hill said last week. The team announced Tuesday it was on Oct. 13.
“It was weird because I don’t remember when it happened," Hill said. "He said he tried to steal a ball and he felt something, but it seemed it didn’t really hurt to him. I guess the adrenaline was going. He didn’t really feel it till the day after, and that’s when he realized it was hurt."
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If Nunn is ready to go as soon as the eight-week recovery period ends, he could return in time for the annual Braggin' Rights game against Missouri on Dec. 23. The Big Ten season starts a week after that, on Dec. 30, against Michigan.
This offseason has been a nightmarish one for the Illini from an injury standpoint. Senior point guard Tracy Abrams suffered a torn Achilles and is out for the season, the second straight offseason during which he's suffered a season-ending injury. Freshman Jalen Coleman-Lands has been dealing with a stress fracture in his leg and is still recovering after sitting out during the team's European trip. Sophomore forward Leron Black had surgery to repair a torn meniscus and will miss time. And junior guard Jaylon Tate suffered a concussion this offseason, as well.
It's unknown how many of those players, if any, will be ready for the season-opener against North Florida on Nov. 13.
Tough news out of Evanston this morning: Northwestern announced that running back Jeremy Larkin will retire immediately after being diagnosed with cervical stenosis.
Cervical stenois is the narrowing of the spinal canal in one's neck, according to Mayo Clinic. Larkin's condition is thankfully not life-threatening, though it does prevent him from continuing to participate in the game of football.
"Football has been a lifelong passion and it has been a process to reconcile the fact I won't be on that field again, given I've played this game since I was five years old," Larkin said.
"I'm extremely appreciative of the Northwestern sports medicine and athletic training staffs for uncovering this condition, and for my coaches and the medical staff for always putting my health first.
"I came to this University to engage at the absolute highest level on the field and in the classroom, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to continue one of those while supporting my teammates from the sideline."
Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald called the news "heartbreaking."
"This is heartbreaking because I see every day how much Jeremy loves the game, loves his teammates, and loves to compete," Fitzgerald said in a statement. "But this is the absolute best possible outcome for him.
"The discovery of this condition allowed Jeremy and his family to make an informed decision for his long-term health and well-being. For those of us who have known Jeremy Larkin since his high school days, his future is exceptionally bright. I can't wait to see the impact he makes in our world."
Larkin is a sophomore from Cincinnati. He finishes his Northwestern career with 156 carries for 849 yards and 10 rushing touchdowns.
Former University of Illinois tennis star Kevin Anderson completed a marathon upset against an all-time great on the highest stage of professional tennis.
Anderson came back from two sets down to beat Roger Federer in Wimbledon’s quarterfinals 2-6, 6-7, 7-6, 6-4, 13-11 on Wednesday morning. He will play in the semifinals of the tournament for the first time in his career.
As a native of South Africa, Anderson played three seasons with the Fighting Illini and won the NCAA doubles championship during the 2005-06 season as a sophomore. The 32-year-old was a three-time All-American in singles at Illinois.
Now, as the eighth ranked singles player on the ATP World Tour, Anderson is a force to be reckoned with at the professional level. He made it all the way to the US Open final in 2017.
The former Illini star will look to keep his recent success going when he represents Illinois in the semifinals of Wimbledon this Friday.