Illini Media Day Recap: Groce Inspired by Cardinals, Black Injured


CHAMPAIGN -- After a disappointing end to the 2015 season in which Illinois got blown out by Alabama in the NIT, head coach John Groce turned to new sources for a little inspiration.

"In the off-season I decided I was going to study great organizations," Groce said. "People, or organizations that sustained excellence for long periods of time (like) the Patriots. It pains me to say it, the Cardinals."

Groce's biggest takeaway: Those teams loved playing for each other. That seemed to be the case Thursday at Illinois media day.

"Our chemistry is pretty good," redshirt freshman Michael Finke said. "We all seem to come together really well."

A team trip to Europe during the summer helped build that chemistry, and they'll need it to overcome another big injury. Groce announced Thursday that Leron Black will miss 4-6 weeks with a tear in his meniscus.

"He is one tough cookie, he's probably had it (the injury) for a while to be honest," Groce said. "A lot of guys might not be able to have that kind of pain threshold or tolerance, but he's a pretty tough dude."

Black will have surgery Friday.

The Illini begin regular season play against North Florida, November 13th at the Prairie Capital Convention Center.

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