Blame for Disappointing Illini Season Goes Well Beyond Senior Class

bruce weber demetri mccamey

In the bracket of non-existent, 2009-2011 Illini basketball leadership has got to be a #1 seed.

And I’m not singling out Coach Bruce Weber, or point guard/star player Demetri McCamey. I’m talking about the total team’s overall tendency to just NOT get things done together as a team. If Notre Dame is Gestalt, and a cohesive unit playing well beyond the sum of their parts, then Illinois is a bunch of underachieving square pegs in round holes.

Handling success instead of fearing of it, winning the close games, not being mental midgets in the face of adversity: these qualities have been missing the past two years. And ever since the Illini started dropping games to teams that are half as talented as they are, we media members started getting extremely critical of both Weber and the seniors.

No wonder Weber described the internet as a “mean place.” But let’s say he’s right.

Let’s say the criticism of the seniors is unwarranted and undeserved. Where else can you point the finger?

By Paul M. Banks

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Five Worst Moments of the 2010-11 Illini Hoops Season

Bruce Weber Illinois

The Illinois Fighting Illini came into this year with across-the-board top 15 preseason national rankings. Yet here they are receiving no votes at all (deservedly so) in either poll for the past few weeks, under .500 in conference, and squarely on the NCAA bubble.

In other words, grossly underachieving and not even remotely close to meeting expectations. And it’s not just this year’s expectations. The current nucleus (Mike Davis, Mike Tisdale, Demetri McCamey) have been starting for three straight years. So one would expect them to peak this season…so much for that! Throw in a recruiting class that was highly regarded on a national college basketball level, and this WAS the year Illini fans have been looking to since 2008.

Kind of depressing isn’t it? Go here for more on that. It’s a very emotional description of how soul-sucking this season has been for the Illini fan base. What follows is a more anecdotal and objective description of the same soul-sucking season from hell.

By Paul M. Banks

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Brokeback Illini

Sometimes, it’s hard to realize you’re in an abusive relationship. And that’s not to diminish abuse, but sports relationships, emotionally, can be just as abusive to those who take sports seriously.

And yes, I’m one of those people who take it too seriously. I know that. But it means a lot to me, and in a way that has nothing to do with work.

I thought I could quit you, Illinois basketball. Not in a professional way, but as a fan.

I thought it would be especially easy after you quit on yourselves at home against Purdue.

But…Illinois…you orange…you blue…

I just can’t quit you.
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Illini Crush Penn State, McCamey’s Final Battle with Talor

Two all-star senior point guards meeting for the final time…unless of course they square off in the Big Ten Tournament. But during the four years that Demetri McCamey manned the one for the Illini, and Talor Battle served in the same role for the Nittany Lions, Battle won the war 5-4. This is a substantial aberration, because Illinois has an all-time 22-10 advantage in the series versus  their Big ten rival, if you subtract the last four years.

Both point guards know what it’s like to shoulder an enormous burden on their teams. Especially in 2009-10, these guys were their teams, as Battle led PSU in scoring, rebounding, assists, minutes and steals. Last year McCamey scored or assisted on an exceedingly high and somewhat disturbing percentage of the Illini scoring.

By Paul M. Banks

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Illinois’ Second Half Choke Not Surprising

ready for the dance illini

There wasn’t much you could say about the Illini and their fall to top-ranked Ohio State on Saturday afternoon.

It was certainly disappointing.

It was certainly a let down after building a lead.

The one thing you really can’t call it, and we all know it deep down inside, was all that surprising. [Read more…]