John Groce and the Illinois Fighting Illini were looking to rely on their upperclassmen this season, turning to experience to guide their heavy dose of freshmen in 2015-16.
After losing starting guard Tracy Abrams to a season-ending injury for the second straight season, the Illini were already hurting in the back court. Groce will turn to La Salle transfer Khalid Lewis to fill Abrams’ spot.
On Tuesday, the Fighting Illini were given some more news on the injury front, and will open the season without one of their starting guards.
Junior guard Kendrick Nunn will miss the next eight weeks due to surgery to repair a ligament in his left thumb.
Nunn has been a starter for Illinois for the past two seasons, and was expected to be a leader of the team in 2015-16.
Coming into last season, Nunn was dealing with some injuries sustained over the course of the summer, and he struggled to be a consistent player for the team. He still averaged 11.1 points per game, and that production was bound to increase this season.
Nunn suffered the injury in practice on October 13th.
He will miss the first few weeks of the season, which will most likely include the Illini taking part in the Emerald Coast Classic and the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Without both Abrams and Nunn in the lineup, Illinois could be in for a rough start to the season.
Once Nunn returns around December, we could start to see what Illinois has to offer as they enter conference play. Having Kendrick Nunn back in the lineup will give them a much-needed boost in the rigorous competition that Big Ten play provides.
Illinois opens up their 2015-16 season on November 13th against North Florida in Springfield, IL.