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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A Musical Take On Illinois’ Senior Day


It’s been a long road not only for Illini sports fans these last 4 years, but for the four Illinois seniors who have presided over the darkest off-the-court times in recent memory. Let’s not forget it’s also one of Illinois’ worst on the court stretches as well.

If the Illini miss the tournament this season, this senior class will be the first group of seniors to miss more than two NCAA tournaments since 1982 — essentially, since prior to the Lou Henson era.

If that doesn’t deserve a depressing walk through my MP3 player, nothing does. [Read more…]

Illini Stayin’ Alive for NCAA Tournament Berth


Well you can tell by the way they use their walk that…well, they haven’t played themselves out of NCAA tournament contention yet.

Was that all just an excuse to lead in with that smarmy photo of Disco John Travolta? Yes. Yes it was.

But it still needs to be said that, after 29 games, the Illinois Fighting Illini men’s college basketball team still is hanging around the NCAA tournament picture.

And even better, their case for a bid continues to get stronger. [Read more…]

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…]

Illinois Fighting Illini vs. Northwestern Wildcats, LIVE BLOG! The “Rivalry” Renews!!!

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OHHHHHHHHH It’s a family affair here at the Ass Hall tonight. Not really, but I feel like Northwestern is our “little brother”…

We’re three minutes to tipoff!  The purple weenies are here! There was a bigger crowd for Wisconsin (wait, that’s not good)…Northwestern HAS to win this game (wait, that’s worse…). Uh oh. Maybe this is gonna be trouble tonight…2:30 til tipoff and we find out!! [Read more…]

Illinois Fighting Illini versus Wisconsin Badgers! BASKETBALL LIVE BLOG BABY!

mccamey

BOO YA KASHA!!!

Happy New Year sports fans!  I’m forgoing the Bears and Packers at Lambeau, and we’re live blogging from THE Assembly Hall in Champaign!

I don’t want to say this is a must win game for the Illini…but….It’s a must win game for the Illini.  I’m finally going to leave an Illinois game with an impression about this team. This is making me, for one, nervous.

So strap yourselves in, Illini fans. And always remember, we’re right now 4 minutes from tipoff and….WE DON’T NEED NO STINKIN’ BADGERS!!! [Read more…]

Illinois Moves Self Squarely Onto Bubble

By Paul Schmidt

It was an opportunity to end a fringe bubble team’s season.

It was an opportunity to keep themselves squarely in the field.

Now, it seems that the Illini just might be fighting for their lives. [Read more…]

Illinois Basketball’s Key: Improved Depth

demetri

By Paul Schmidt

A very different Illini team is taking the court this season in the Assembly Hall in Champaign, and this fact gives the Illini options a-plenty.

Though defensively the team has seemed to take a step back, offensively they have as diverse and dynamic of an offense as the team has displayed in 20 years — Yes, since the Flyin’ Illini.

One of the more exciting aspects for the Illini is that the offense will push the limits this season, for certain.

“I want to run; that’s our strength, our athleticism,” Illinois head coach Bruce Weber said. “Last year, when I wouldn’t run, that’s all I heard was, ‘Why don’t you run??’ So now, we’re running.”Illinois

Weber was obviously not buckling to the pressure of the media, and was kidding in those post-game comments. It does illustrate the point that everyone knows that this team is deep and has a bunch of moving parts that can come in and out of the game.

Following the 78-64 win over Wofford, the toughest game they’ve had all year, Bruce was candid about the clash in styles between this year and last.

“Tonight we still had 78 points, and last year that would be like a season high, so we’ve obviously made some strides this year,” Weber said about the game.

He had some great things to say about his reserves after their 80-61 win over Northern Illinois.

“I thought Tyler Griffey and Richard Semrau both played well, Griffey really gave us some nice minutes,” Weber said.

“Dominique Keller gave us a nice spark, and Bill Cole, though he did not take a shot, played 14 very solid minutes, good defensively, did the little things and didn’t try to do too much defensively. We have a +/- chart (illustrates whether the team has a positive or negative scoring margin while you are on the court), and it’ll be interesting, because I believe while he was in there we had some pretty good runs.”

Indeed, the play of the reserves will be extremely important as the season progresses. Weber currently runs the rotation 10-deep, and as fatigue and/or injuries take hold during the season the bench players’ minutes will progress.

“That’s the best thing about our team,” Weber said. “We’ve got other people we can put in that can do some things and help us survive some runs when we get in trouble.”

“I honestly believe that we have 7 or 8 guys on this team that could start, and then a couple more that could play big minutes anywhere in the country,” Weber added. “At least I hope we do, because that’s my mindset. I know a lot of these guys would love to start. The key is that we need everyone to buy into their role.”

Demetri McCamey is one of those players that has had to adjust to a different role this season. Once thought to be the next great Illini scorer, McCamey has had to take a back seat in the scoring and become a more-true point guard, distributing the ball and getting everyone else involved.

This hasn’t bothered McCamey in the least and you get the impression that that unselfishness runs all the way down the roster.

“I think we’re gelling pretty fine. It’s like I said last week, you never know who is going to score, whether it’s me, Mike Davis, Brandon (Paul), D. J. (Richardson), Alex (Legion)…we’ve got a lot of guys that can score, so different nights, it’s different people,” McCamey said. “As long as we’re happy, and winning basketball games, we all don’t have to go out there and score.  Everyone will be gelling, and we’ll all be on one page.”

The biggest issue with the depth is inexperience. The Illini are, largely, a young team, and still learning how to run and gun the entire game, yet remain controlled with the basketball.

“It’d be nice if we could win all of our games by 40, but I don’t think that that’s going to happen,” Weber said. “We’re going to have game situations and runs by teams where you’re going to have to learn how to deal with it. You have to learn how to play when you have a lead, and how to run the clock.”

For Weber, however, it’s always about finding the style of basketball to fit the roster, and with the amount of webercontributors this team has, a faster pace is the way to go.

“I don’t mind pushing the basketball and outscoring people,” Weber said. “I always want to push the basketball. But I also want to win, so if we don’t have scorers, we have to play possession basketball. Then you’ve got to guard, you’ve got to play in the halfcourt. I think that’s the one thing that I learned from Coach Keady, working with him for all those years — You’ve got to be flexible. A good coach is flexible, and he changes with his talent.”