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Illini leaders mentoring newcomers

Things have been "so far, so good" for the Illinois basketball team. They are one of the youngest teams in the Big Ten, but you wouldn't know it by the way they've played. They credit that to the leadership on the team, especially veterans like Tracy Abrams, Joseph Bertrand and others.
CHAMPAIGN -- Things have been "so far, so good" for the Illinois basketball team.  They are one of the youngest teams in the Big Ten, but you wouldn't know it by the way they've played.  They credit that to the leadership on the team, especially veterans like Tracy Abrams, Joseph Bertrand and others.

They have helped the young guys stay steady on both ends of the court, and it showed on Sunday with a 26-point win over Bradley.

"We just keep giving [the young players] positive energy," Abrams said.  "Letting those guys understand, 'Think positive, everything is going to be fine.'  Coach does a great job with that - emphasizing getting one percent better every day, and I think that carries over for us to help the younger guys.  They're going through a different phase in life."

There is still a long way to go, but head coach John Groce gives credit to the older guys for mentoring all the newcomers.

"These guys like each other, and that's not like a fake deal," said Groce.  "They really like one another, so we have a connectedness out there.  We have to continue to grow and build our team.  I think that helps with the unselfishness."
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