Black out indefinitely

Black out indefinitely

CHAMPAIGN — Leron Black has spent the last two games on the Illinois bench, joining Tracy Abrams and Mike Thorne Jr. in street clothes Saturday as Illinois held off Illinois-Chicago for an 83-79 win at the United Center in Chicago.

Expect to see the 6-foot-7 sophomore center on the bench again when Illinois (6-5) hosts South Dakota (7-4) at 2 p.m. Saturday. And possibly for longer than just the final home nonconference game for the Illini.

Illinois coach John Groce downgraded Black from day-to-day to out indefinitely on Thursday, a team spokesman confirmed.

Black had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee in October, with his recovery set at four to six weeks. He missed Illinois’ season opener and returned Nov. 15 against North Dakota State.

Against the Bison, Black suffered a contusion on his surgically repaired knee that set back his recovery with persistent swelling and soreness, Groce said.

“It’s made it a little bit more difficult maybe for the comeback to happen quite as fast as we wanted,” Groce said after the win against UIC. “He’s a tough kid, obviously. The doc felt like he was playing with at least a partial tear for maybe years.

“We’ll try to do the right thing for him. I want to get him healthy and get him back to the Leron Black we saw in Europe, which was an impressive Leron Black.”

There’s no timetable for Black’s return, which puts him in the same category as Thorne. Groce said last week he was moving forward as if Thorne would not return this season.

Black and Thorne have played in seven games this season, with Black averaging 4.4 points and 4.4 rebounds. If their injuries persist, both would be eligible to apply for a medical redshirt because they fall under the 30 percent of total games played limit.

With Black and Thorne injured, redshirt freshman forward Michael Finke and junior center Maverick Morgan will continue to see increased playing time. Finke has played 27 minutes in each of the past two games and is averaging 10 points and 4.5 rebounds. Morgan played 13 minutes against both Yale and UIC and is averaging six points and 2.5 rebounds.

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Moonpie wrote on December 17, 2015 at 4:12 pm

Oh, my -- better give Groce yet another pass on the year. How many is that now? And one for next season, too. Maybe a lifetime NIT membership!


Tate to the rescue! Tate to the rescue!

DaisyJ wrote on December 17, 2015 at 4:12 pm

What kind of drills and conditioning is standard with Groce. How many guys keep getting their legs, knees and ankles injured. Just saying...

DaisyJ wrote on December 17, 2015 at 4:12 pm

Are they working them too hard? Too soft? What?