“No question about it, everyone in the huddle knew where it was going.” –Bill Cole, Illini junior forward.
Now that’s confidence in a player.
And why shouldn’t there be? No one on the entire Illinois team could be counted on to make that game-winning shot. The team knew it. Indiana knew it. The crowd knew it. Heck, everyone at home watching the game on ESPN knew it.
And yet, still, Demetri McCamey got free for a little eight foot floater, hitting the shot as time expired to give the Illini a 72-70 heart-stopping win over the Hoosiers from Indiana.
The last second win was Illinois’ first as time expired since Frank Williams hit a three-pointer with no time left to beat Ohio State 80-77 on January 6th 2000 at Assembly Hall.
That’s right, we’ve invoked the name of Frank Williams, folks. Strap yourselves in, it’s going to be a good one.
(Below is our McCamey exclusive from Illini Media Day- check it out)
Like Bill Cole said after the game, everyone was supremely confident about coming back and the ball going in, so much so that it was a little scary.
“No question about it, everyone in the huddle knew where it was going,” Cole said. “The hand-off even kind of broke down a little bit, we were just trying to create a little space. Then Demetri just did what he does best, penetrated the lane and made a heck of a shot.”
A heck of a shot, indeed, but Illinois head coach Bruce Weber wasn’t as thrilled about the shot selection as he could have been.
“Demetri has had a bunch of chances to win games, and the one thing we told him was to get to the basket, no matter what happens,” Weber said. “And he did get to the basket. You know I get after him about his dang floaters all the time, but this one went in, so obviously that’s a positive thing.”
About his dang floaters? What do you mean Bruce? Do you have a different shot in mind?
“I want him to shoot pull-up jumpers, I want him to jump stop, I want him to be old-school and do some things like that,” Weber said. “But obviously in that case he really had no choice — It was float or too late. But it was definitely good.”
To McCamey’s credit, he was just as self-assured as everyone was about him.
“It was just a play for us to go backdoor, and they did a good job of switching, and forced me to go to the basket,” McCamey said. “Once I got there I just threw it up and tear-dropped it. It’s a shot I practice every day, and I knew it was good as soon as it left my hand.”
With that kind of confidence, McCamey must have had a bunch of tries at hitting that buzzer-beater to win, right?
“I’ve probably lost count,” McCamey said, cracking up the press room after the game. “Me and Evan (Turner, Ohio State superstar and high school teammate of McCamey) knew we were going to take the last shot, so I had to share some with Evan.”
Even still, perhaps the McCamey bashing that has been happening around the Illini nation can finally come to a close!
Coming into the game against Indiana, McCamey was accounting for almost 47 percent of the teams’ offense — (combined scoring and points he assisted on). With 19 points today, and assists on another 17, he was responsible for an even 50 percent of the teams’ offense again on Saturday.
With that type of production and ball control (only 4 turnovers by McCamey today, and a solid 2-1 assist-to-turnover ratio), everyone needs to recognize that not only is McCamey the best player on the court for the Illini night-in and night-out, he is the one player that the Illini can’t afford to lose or not have on the court for any reason.
He’s turned into the type of player that everyone wishes they recruited out of high school, the guy that everyone thought he could be.
Isn’t that what you thought when you recruited McCamey to Marquette, Indiana coach Tom Crean? You did recruit him, didn’t you?
“Ah, no, we didn’t,” Crean said before stalking out of the press room somewhat angrily.