He was having an All-American second team, All-Big Ten first team type season. At least up until his unhappy visit to Happy Valley. Illini senior point guard Demetri McCamey went (a then uncharacteristic) sub-50% from the field, and committed five turnovers to match his five assists. The Illini lost to Penn State, and the McCamey/Illinois college basketball season slide began.
During the course of his Illini career, McCamey has been criticized for his shot selection, his lack of defense, his immaturity and even his attitude. But in ’09-’10 he learned to carry this team on his back, scoring or assisting on an overwhelming majority of the Illini team scoring.
Sometime between last season to the beginning of this season, McCamey went from being just good to really great. But for the past month or so, he’s been very mediocre at best. And that’s even a stretch.
By Paul M. Banks
Over the summer, as McCamey went through the NBA Draft workouts, he learned that point guards are judged by wins, and that his draft stock would rise as Illinois gains more victories.
If there were a “Mad Money” show for NBA Draft stock, I’d hit the “sell! sell! sell!” button on McCamey right now. Since that disappointing trip to Penn State Illinois is 2-5 (as opposed to 13-3 before McCamey’s slump).
During that span, Meechi’s individual game shooting numbers read like this: @Wisconsin 3-13, Michigan State 4-11, Ohio State 2-11, @Indiana 2-11, Penn State 2-9. In the loss at Northwestern he was 4-6, but unfortunately did almost all of his damage late as he was plagued by foul trouble for most of the contest.
Perhaps more important, and much more harmful to his team, is seeing McCamey’s assist to turnover ratio goes south. Today, it was 4-3, against Ohio State it was 5-4, at Indiana 3-5. In the previous 16 games, his turnovers out-numbered his assists just one time. Basically, over the past seven games McCamey was either been unable to score, or unable to effectively distribute/take care of the ball. And in a couple of those games, he’s struggled with both.
“Demetri did make plays at the end to give us a chance, but he needs to play if we’re going to have a good finish. Maybe this will get him going, I don’t know,” Illini Coach Bruce Weber said.
McCamey was not made available to the media following the loss at Northwestern. His defense on Northwestern’s Michael “Juice” Thompson was atrocious, as the Wildcats senior point guard led the game with 22 points.
“I thought Juice Thompson was very special, played like a senior, played very determined wanting to win a game at home…We knew what they were running, but you got to to execute at home,” Weber said.
That type of sentence was often used by opposing coaches to describe McCamey. He’s been both justly and unjustly criticized during his time in Champaign, but perhaps the biggest knock on him is his lack of leadership.
Because his failure to lead, especially vocally, hurts not only himself but everyone else on his team. Ok maybe that’s just not his personality- it’s simply not who he is.
However, when you’re “the floor general,” the point guard running the offense, a senior, the only member of the team who made the Wooden and Naismith Award watch lists, overall the team’s “best” player- you have to act like it. It is YOUR role.
Someone needs to lead. Someone needs to wake this team up and get them playing even remotely on par with their ability. Whether he likes it or not, whether it’s his personality or not, this responsibility falls squarely on McCamey.
If he doesn’t rise up now, he’s not just hurting his teammates, he’s hurting his own individual future.
Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net. He doesn’t have a real nickname, but he is also a regular contributor to the Tribune’s Chicago Now network, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker Network, and Fox Sports.com
He does a weekly radio segment on Chicagoland Sports Radio.com and Cleveland.com
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