A Good Problem to Have

The addition of Ahmad Starks and Aaron Cosby gives the Illinois backcourt more shooting and depth -- exactly the boost Tracy Abrams says the team needed most.

CHAMPAIGN — A crowded backcourt is exactly what Illinois needs according to Tracy Abrams.

The senior Abrams is excited about Ahmad Starks and Aaron Cosby joining the rotation for cause-and-effect reasoning.

Their good shooting ability should create great spacing. That's something Abrams and fellow senior Rayvonte Rice didn't always have last season, especially in Big Ten play.

"Those guys can shoot the ball," Abrams said. "We need some shooters to open up the court a little bit more. I'm a driver. Ray's a slasher. We like to get to the rim. Just having those guys out there that we know can knock some shots down, teams can't sag off a lot, definitely not as much as they did last year."

Throw in sophomore Kendrick Nunn, who cracked the starting lineup last season during conference play, and there's plenty of options on the perimeter at John Groce's disposal. There's only so many minutes and shots to go around, but that's not a concern, not if you ask Starks.

"You're playing basketball, so you have to share the basketball and work together on both ends of the floor to be successful," he said. "We're just emphasizing the point. We all have to work together to get what we want done."

Rice has 97 career starts, Abrams 86, Starks 67, Cosby 58 and Nunn 12. That's a lot of experience among players that are use to playing serious minutes and being on the court when it matters most. They key, Starks says, is that each player is different, with skills, size and strengths that vary.

"Nobody can be selfish," Starks said. "Nobody can do everything, so we're going to work now through the end of the season to be the best we can be. Sacrificing is definitely a key thing."

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