Big Ten

Illini point guard Tracy Abrams out for season with torn Achilles


Illini point guard Tracy Abrams out for season with torn Achilles

For the second consecutive year, Tracy Abrams will miss what was supposed to be his senior season at Illinois.

The Illini announced Tuesday afternoon that Abrams, a Chicago native and Mount Carmel product, will miss the entire 2015-16 season with a torn Achilles' tendon.

This after he missed all of last season with a torn ACL. He's been recovering from that injury since last offseason.

“First of all, my heart goes out to Tracy,” Illinois head coach John Groce said in the team's announcement. “He went through so much the last 10 months fighting back from a torn ACL to return to the court this summer in preparation for the upcoming season. So this is obviously a very difficult time for him right now. But I’ve said it before that Tracy has the heart of a champion, and I know that he will handle this latest setback with the same courage and resolve in making a full recovery.”

[MORE BIG TEN: Illini's Jalen Coleman-Lands sidelined with stress fracture]

Abrams was expected to return after missing last season and provide much-needed senior leadership for a team short on seniors. But for the second straight year, the Illini will be without their floor general.

Last season, Abrams' absence forced players like Jaylon Tate and Ahmad Starks into roles they weren't as well suited for. This season could see a similar void at the point guard position without Abrams.

Abrams started 86 of the 103 games he played in his first three seasons at Illinois, including all but four of the Illini's games in 2012-13 and 2013-14. He averaged more than 10 points per game, more than three assists per game and more than three rebounds per game in those two seasons while also serving as the team's on-court leader.

It's been a tough offseason so far for the Illini, and undoubtedly the news on Abrams is the most devastating. Additionally, freshman Jalen Coleman-Lands is sidelined with a stress fracture in his leg, and transfer Darius Paul will also miss the team's upcoming European trip with an injury.

Northwestern running back Jeremy Larkin diagnosed with cervical stenosis, will retire immediately


Northwestern running back Jeremy Larkin diagnosed with cervical stenosis, will retire immediately

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 Illini champion Kevin Anderson upsets Roger Federer in Wimbledon quarterfinal


Former Illini champion Kevin Anderson upsets Roger Federer in Wimbledon quarterfinal

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.