And tonight we could find it in Champaign-Urbana as former Illinois Fighting Illini point guards Deron Williams and Demetri McCamey squared off against each other in the UI alumni game. Both are heading to Turkey for the 2011-2012 season and could go head-to-head against each other in the Central Asia later this year.
But tonight was about the alma mater, and Williams (11 points, game high 8 rebounds, game high 8 assists) impressed the Assembly Hall crowd with his drives to the whole, sweet passing, and most impressively: a bounce pass dunk to himself (this is soon to be a YouTube sensation) that got the air conditioningless arena rocking.
“You like that?” Williams asked the media after the all-star game.
“Thanks man. It was on the fly,” he continued. It was improvised, not planned.
His blue team defated the orange 70-67. NBA veteran Kendall Gill led all scorers with 13.
“The older you get, the more you lose touch with guys and you don’t get to see them as much, and guys get families and are doing so many things, so it’s good for us to come back together, and hang out and get on the court,” Williams told the media.
The game itself was your typical all-star exhibition: exciting, but with as much serioussness as the MTV Rock N Jock basketball game. The exhibition followed an Illini scrimmage of the current team, who won their first NCAA Tournament game since 2006 last season.
Deron’s final season at Illinois, the Illini won a then record 37 games, started 30-0 and finished as national runner-up. So what’s it going to take to get back there?
“Buying into the system. Buying into what Coach Weber is preaching, he knows what he’s talking about and his system is built for his players. It’s just a matter of them being unselfish,” Williams said.
“That’s what made us (the 2004-05 Final Four team) so successful we didn’t care who got the glory. We were a unit, we knew if we won games, the attention would come, the accolades, the NBA status would come by us winning alone. So if they could lose themselves into a team attitude, they’ll be really good.”
Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, an official Google News site that generates millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports