By Paul M. Banks
Demetri McCamey’s huge night (27 points, 7 assists, 11-17 FG, 3-4 from 3pt) led the way for the Illini’s uber-impressive 63-56 win at #13 Wisconsin. It’s yet another example of the huge strides he’s made this year.
In Big Ten play, Cames (please by no means call him “D. Mac”, we have enough abbreviation style “nicknames” in this world already) has scored or assisted on literally half of all the Illini’s total output. For more on that, and the specific stats go here
On Monday McCamey was named Big Ten Player of the Week, along with his St. Joseph’s BFF Evan Turner. Illini Coach Bruce Weber said he wondered if the accolades might get to McCamey’s head, an stop his hot streak:
“Well I can always find things to yell at him about I promise you. He gets lackadaisical on defense. He just got player of the week, “The Journey” is here following him. And I’m thinking oh my god, this is what we’ve been going through for three years. Every time you complement him he soon gets back to his old ways….some turnovers, some bad decisions, but then he got clicking. He’s really playing like we want him to be. If he could guard we’d really have something, but right now we’re happy with what he’s given us.”
I then followed up another reporter’s question by asking Bruce if McCamey’s development is due to: an increased work ethic, or maybe if it was the mid-season benching of his junior point guard that got him motivated.
“I would hope my staying after him over the course of time… that I think he finally gets it. Maybe sitting him down, and we won games when he sat down and maybe he realized I can’t just go through the motions. So now he’s older, more responsible, accountable, he’s listening better, he’s even making suggestions. It’s amazing, before I’d be lucky if he listened to me, now he’s telling me things…but I don’t want to complement him too much, because we still have a long way to go,” Weber responded.
After the game I talked with a few fans and journalists about my Ben Gordon-McCamey comparison. Both are exceedingly streaky, great outside shooters, a knack for taking (and usually making) the crunch time shot, but useless on defense. However, the one commonality between the two that really jumps out at me, are all the floater/runner shots, as a crucial part of each player’s offensive games.
“That’s something I practiced this summer when I was working out with Deron (Williams) and a couple other guys who play professionally. It’s something that you got to have in your repertoire when you have bigs and a good shot blocking team, and you just got to get your shot off,” McCamey said when I asked him about his “floater”.
So are the days of the maddeningly erratic McCamey gone? Are these routine superlative efforts indicative of the new (and genuine) Demetri? “I’m just trying to be consistent and not go up and down. As long as we win games that’s all I care about,” Cames responded.