The situation hasn’t gotten any better for Illinois Fighting Illini guards Rayvonte Rice and Aaron Cosby. Both players remain on “indefinite suspension” by head coach John Groce for an unspecified violation of team rules. The suspensions were announced prior to the Illini’s victory over Penn State on Saturday.
Groce has refused to reveal what exact rules were violated, but he did say that Rice and Cosby would have returned to the lineup to face the Nittany Lions had the suspensions not been handed down. Both men had already been out the last few weeks with ill-timed injuries.
Rice has missed nearly a month with a broken left (non-shooting) hand, while Cosby was recovering from surgery to repair a torn retina in his left eye. Rice, who’s in his senior year at Illinois, is the team’s leading scorer (17.2 PPG) and rebounder (6.9 RPG).
As for Cosby, the junior transfer from Seton Hall is playing in his first season for the Illini (14-8 overall, 4-5 Big Ten) after sitting out last season due to NCAA transfer rules. He’s averaging 7.8 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game this season. Rice of course has been the Illini’s leader this year.
Even though Cobsy doesn’t have ideal numbers, he’s done his best considering he was just put into the lineup a few weeks ago in place of the struggling Ahmad Starks. With both players still out for possibly the foreseeable future, other players have done their best to step up and fill the leadership void.
The main players to do so have been sophomore forward Malcolm Hill, and senior center Nnanna Egwu. Now while Rice’s and Cosby’s suspensions have been labeled “indefinite” by coach Groce, he did tell the media Monday that there’s a small chance they could be reinstated in time for Tuesday’s home game against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights (10-13, 2-8).
The Illini could definitely use their talents if they want their first winning streak since December. Follow me on Twitter @GabeSalgado82