Joseph Bertrand Is 'Getting Better'

Marilyn Indahl-USA TODAY Sports

John Groce says Bertrand's shoulder is getting better, but there is no word on whether he'll be ready for Minnesota.

On Sunday Joseph Bertrand became the first Illini player to miss a game because of an injury against Ohio State thanks to a shoulder injury he suffered in practice. And while it's rather amazing that the Illini didn't lose a player to an injury until the final game of the season, it's also a pretty terrible time to finally lose a player.

Unfortunately there's no guarantee that Joe won't be missing his second game of the season on Thursday against Minnesota.

"I wouldn't say definitely. He's getting better. He's day-to-day right now," John Groce told reporters. "I like the progress he's made. I thought he looked really good (Monday). I anticipated him being not quite as far along as he was (Monday), which was great.

"Jo Jo is a competitor, wants to play and we're going to plan as if he's going to be ready to go for us. We also have to plan to adjust and a lot of that will be determined where he's at at tipoff on Thursday."

Obviously, not having Bertrand available on Thursday would be a blow to the Illini and their efforts to beat Minnesota again. He's not been playing very well lately (31.3% FG, 3.75 points, 2.5 rebounds while playing 21 minutes per game in the last four) but he's still valuable to the team.

Aside from Brandon Paul, he's the only player on offense that can create his own shot consistently, and he's one of our better rebounders.

Against a rebounding team as strong as the Gophers, the Illini need all the help on the boards they can get.

Although, I suppose if there's good news should Bertrand not be able to go, it's that two of his worst games of the season were against Minnesota. So maybe his absence won't be felt all that much?

Follow The Champaign Room on Twitter at @Champaign_Room. You can follow Tom Fornelli on Twitter at @TomFornelli.

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