Illini basketball

The Good Tracy

For every season that Tracy Abrams has played basketball at Illinois, he’s always been a focal point for the fans. As Tracy goes, so go the Illini.

Writing about Tracy Abrams can be fun and/or frustrating, just like watching him play basketball.

You like it that he has a killer instinct, and wants to take over ball games. You like it that he takes responsibility for leadership.

You remember the endgame in victories where Tracy put the team on his back and carried it across the finish line. At Minnesota 2013. Braggin’ Rights later that year.

But then you remember how that 2014 season ended. Ray Rice and Jon Ekey, two proven game-winning shot-makers, watched from the corners as Tracy short-armed  a floater against Michigan, and a long three at Clemson.

The Central Michigan Game of 2016 will never approach legend & lore status in Illini sports history. But it made a notch on the Tracy Abrams column.

The Good Tracy showed up, which was fortunate. Because for much of that game, it appeared no other Illini had.

Tracy’s game has always given him an advantage over certain types of players. Four years ago, I predicted he’d do pretty well against Gonzaga’s big men, and overrated guards. That was an easy call to make.

Tracy doesn’t perform well against athletic wings, or anybody with quickness and long arms. That latter combination might be rare among the general population, but it describes a lot of basketball players.

Illinois could finish the non-con at 10-3. The Illini are picked to finish in the lower tier of the Big Ten. That might change if The Good Tracy continues to heed all the little lessons he’s learned about his limitations.

It’s all on his shoulders.

(All photos by Vashoune Russell.)