Demetri McCamey IS Illinois Basketball


By Paul Schmidt

“No question about it, everyone in the huddle knew where it was going.” –Bill Cole, Illini junior forward. [Read more…]

Illinois-Northwestern: Battle to get off the Bubble

By Paul M. Banks and Paul Schmidt
Photo Credit: Illinois Loyalty.com

Illinois Sports Extravaganza, Part Two, Basketball

ILL

By Paul M. Banks and Paul Schmidt

8 minutes until tipoff
Welcome back to Champaign, the Pauls are still in the house.  Quite literally, the House of Paign!

Is this game on TV?  Who knows…who cares??? We’re here to break down all of the action for you tonight, and we’re only slightly tired after the barnburner that was the Illinois football game.demetri

Illinois and Boise State have a lot to live up to if they hope to be as exciting as this afternoon’s football game! (PS)

Tipoff
Patriotic crowd tonight, singing the national anthem with the band…also, a fun addition to the intros, it appears each Illinois player has their own avatar on the replay board.  No, they aren’t amphibian-looking and blue.

This is the first matchup in history between Boise State and Illinois, and only the fourth time the Broncos have ever played the Big Ten.  They like to score points.  Defense, though, is not their strong suit.

I’m guessing it will be a little while before they play a Big Ten team again after tonight…Illinois 95, Boise State 60 is the prediction…(PS)

What an ending indeed! That was guano crazy. Talk about finding a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory! I’m guessing this one will be a lot more decisive than the football game. I think the Illini might break 100 here. It’s kind of weird to see Boise St. playing basketball. It’s kind of weird to see them not on a blue football field for that matter. (PMB)

Boise St. leads 11-9Illinois 14, Boise State 14, 13:14 left 1H
I still think the Illini roll, but right now, BSU is hanging tough.  On the plus side I’m getting really good at typing the word “State”.

Right now, the Broncos are a little more athletic than I thought, and have some good speed in the game.  Their cuts to the hoop are sharp, and with the number of open looks from 3 that they are getting, the picks and screens have been really, really nice.

However, they are remarkably deficient on the defensive end, and really on the glass as well, with the Illini getting a number of good putbacks.

Illinois 22, Boise State 19 11:10 left 1H
Really nice oop-de-layup from McCamey to Dominique Keller. The pass was a little bit errant, but Keller used his long arms to corral the pass and lay it in.

He’s been my man-crush for a while, but I haven’t said it yet this game…I wish Keller would get more PT.  I really do. (PS)

Yeah, he would start on so many other teams in Div 1. the 1980s Knicks, whoops I mean BSU, the uniforms tripped me up, my bad, are running up down with the Illini. This is a very troubling start here. I love how Boise St. has guys named Montreal, Noonan (miss it! MISS IT NOONAN) and a Zach Moritz! seriously where’s Belding and Spano.

zack

kelly

Illinois 34, Boise State 34
Interestingly, Some dude named Okoye (I think it was Christian) just rumbled in from the one-yard line for a score, and Noonan Noooooooonan just hit a driving slicing jumper to tie it up. They aren’t a bad Boise State team…(PS)

The band obviously knows that there’s a Noonan here tonight, because they’re playing Journey’s “Any way you want it” during a timeout. Best made famous by Rodney Dangerfield’s character Al Czervik “so what? so LET’S DANCE!”

Now they’re playing Don’t Stop Believin. Where’s A.J. and Crede? by the way McCamey sitting in foul trouble is hurting the Illini right now…still up by one, 37-36 3:43 till half.

And I noticed there’s some dude named Anthony Thomas too. That’s funny, yet another Bears running back who had a great rookie season, and then did NOTHING. BTW, Doesn’t Brandon Paul sort of look like a young Kendall Gill?

Mike Davis’s jumper has been like the internet connection here, in and out.

Illinois 42, Boise State 38
Brandon Paul looks a lot like Kendall Gill, except for the mohawk.

Illinois go into the half struggling a lot more than they ideally should be. it is, however, surprising that Boise State has quite as much athleticism as they do — that is not typically a WAC characteristic. They do, however show solid three point shooting — something that perennial WAC favorite Utah State is always good at.

The Illini need to improve on the defensive end, something I’m sure that Bruce Weber is making very, very clear right now. (PS)

Illinois 47, Boise State 38 19:01 left 2H
Wowsa, quick start to the half, a Mike Davis put-back and a McCamey 3 puts the Illini comfortably up nine — and I use the word comfortably for the first time tonight.

The Illini are, thank goodness, shooting 7-of-13 from three-point range for the game and that is truly the only reason this game is close — Boise State would be running away with it without that…(PS)

Actually Illinois should really be winning this by a LOT! They won the rebounding battle for the first half, and committed 6 turnovers to BSU’s 13. I would like to see the Illini build some momentum from the Clemson win, btw how cool was that scoreboard show before the game? The highlight reel from the ACC Challenge, the greatest comeback in school history.

I was expecting a blowout to follow this. as it stands 52-46 Illinois 15:46 left to play

Illinois 54, Boise State 50 13:56 left 2H
Zach Morris back on the floor, teehee.

“Hangin around, hangin around…this kid’s got alligator blood.” Teddy KGB’s quote about Mike McD in the legendary movie Rounders is apropos in this case, because the Broncos will not die.  They will not go away. And from a defensive standpoint it looks like the Illini won’t clamp down enough to be able to do anything other than outscore them.

A McCamey 3 puts the Illini up 7…it makes me think that the Illini better be ready for Cames to play 40 minutes a night. Banks, has one given Illini player ever been as important to his  team as it appears McCamey is to this one?  And yes, I know I’m softening on my stance from the Clemson game…(PS)

I know you’re not the biggest McCamey fan, that’s usually my department. Because he sort of plays the way I do, or used to on the schoolyard. shoot from the outside a lot, defense is optional. Anyways, that’s not a great sign for the Illini if they’re gonna be overly dependent on him, or any one single player for that matter. It was funny how in the media room at the Bulls on wednesday, we were watching the Clemson game. And one journalist said “that kid is going to play at the next level” about Brandon Paul. Then a Score personality (I’ll tell you which one offline) said “He needs to get McCamey’s bum ass out of his way, so does DJ, so he can run the point.”

I strongly disagree with that idea, but with the tremendous potential of DJ and Paul, I see where he’s coming from.

Illinois 68, Boise State 58 8:47 left 2H
Have I mentioned how much I heart Dominique Keller?? It helps that his name makes him sound like a girl…but I heart him much!

A breakaway dunk, and then a sweet little jumper pushed the Illini lead to 10, and Keller really is proving his worth as a utility guy off the bench. (PS)

Agreed. Hard to believe, but this odyssey, this double-dip, double-header, double-duty etc. of Illini sports concludes in 7 1/2 minutes, then postgame pressers, but it really was a blur wasn’t it? By the way that “House of ‘Paign” sound effect, the your guy just died in “Double Dragon” or “Streets of Rage” scream sound…as much as I hate it, it’s now growing on me.

double_dragon_xbla

Illinois 74, Boise State 64 4:30 left 2H
Like my cohort PB said…coming up on dagger time.  You have to put inferior teams away at this point.

Demetri McCamey just had a nice sequence with a teardrop runner, and then with a great drive to the hoop to push the lead out to ten.  It looked like he drew contact and there was no foul call…but…(PS)

Illinois 74, Boise State 68 3:14 left 2H
Annnnnnd…they didn’t do it.  They continue to let a worse team hang around.  Last year’s Illini team did the same thing, incidentally. (PS)

Illinois 74, Boise State 71 1:19 left 2H
Wow…just wow. This is really looking bad for the Illini. They have to be doing better than this against a WAC team picked to finish mid-pack there.  You HAVE to. (PS)

Illinois 76, Boise State 74 :35.8 left 2H
Another Bronco three and they don’t have to fould now.  With just 12 seconds left on the shot clock, if they force a stop, they will have the ball for the last shot with a chance to tie and send the game to overtime or…gulp…win. (PS)

Illinois 78, Boise State 76 :20.2 left 2H
And just when you thought Mike Tisdale had saved the game…Anthony Freaking Thomas, the A-Train…hits a driving layup to cut the lead to two. They are now in foul-or-die mode, though, and the Illini, typically a bad-shooting free throw team, aren’t half bad at it this year.

Unfortunately, they are having trouble getting the ball in bounds, and just used their last time out. The crowd does not have a good feeling about this…they are officially uneasy. (PS)

Illinois 80, Boise State 77  :15.6 left 2H
Bill Cole fouls out, in limited playing time off the bench.  He won’t be thinking about this game with pride 10 years down the road.

And a 1 of 2 performance from the line for Boise State and then Tisdale hitting two bulges the lead to 82-77, and a probable Illini win.

Check back for more after the post-game press conferences, with comments from Bruce Weber, the Illini and their opponents.

Illinois 84, Boise State 77

The Illini were a little subdued after the game, with Mike Davis summing up the disappointment best.

“It doesn’t even really feel like a win, and I don’t really think we played that great,” Davis said. “We got dominated inside, they got penetration on us, and we just have got to get set. We have got to come to practice every day and work to get better. Because if it doesn’t change, it’s like Coach says, we are gonna be some sorry guys.”

The Boise State defense was stout all game, holding the Illini to just 45 percent from the floor — a respectable percentage, for certain, but not when you consider that they shot 50% from behind the arc.

“What wasn’t making it difficult?” Illinois center Mike Tisdale said. “The dribble penetration, the high-low stuff, the big man sealing…we just have to work on that stuff. It’s Basketball 101, and we just couldn’t do that stuff tonight. We’ve got a couple of days of practice and we just have to get ready for the next team.”

Illinois head coach Bruce Weber wasn’t any happier after the game, as the players basically said that he was pretty angry in the locker room.

“I guess that would be an understatement today…” Weber said with a thin smile. “You guys have been here a long time today, and it’s been a really, really long day. Coach Zook, you just feel so bad about how they lost that game, and my thinking, as we got down to the end, I’m thinking man, all the sudden something is going to bounce wrong for us.  But it didn’t, and I give our kids credit for making plays down the stretch.”

Weber was also unhappy with his team’s inability to finish the game.

“You know we go and we get up ten points in the second half and have three opportunities on the fast break and don’t get anything out of it,” Weber said. “You know, that’s really where you’ve got to put a team away. Everyone has games where you don’t play quite as well, but now you’ve got to learn to finish it. It’s just different people every time, learning,  maturing, and just being smart.”

And that wraps things up from Champaign. On behalf of Paul Banks, I thank you all for following along today. We’ve been here so long today, and spoken with so many locals that I think now we have to take up permanent residence here…(PS)

Illini Win??!!?? Yes, You Read That Right!

ROSE BOWL
By Paul Schmidt

There’s no one anywhere who predicted an Illinois win Saturday against Michigan.  I’m about the biggest Illinois apologist that there is, and even I was urging you to bet against the Illini, and to lay 7 points while doing it!

After a short amount of time, however, the glow of a great victory has waned and left two very poignant questions to be asked.

The first is whether this was a victory from an Illinois team finally playing up to expectations, or whether this victory can completely be attributed to the wheels falling off of this Michigan teams’ wagon.

The more that I think about the game, the more I really believe the latter to be true.  Michigan’s defense is starting to play ridiculously bad.  It’s almost getting comical at just how bad they are playing.

The Wolverines are doing whatever the opposite of peaking is, winning only one game in their last five, with that win being against FCS opponent Delaware State. With NCAA investigators descending upon Ann Arbor, RichRod looking dirtier than Rod Blagojevich and a best-case scenario of six wins (with games remaining against Purdue, Wisconsin and Ohio State, winning one would be an accomplishment), Michigan is definitely in disarray.

Illinois just managed to take advantage of that.

The second question is much more accusatory towards the Illini — Just where was this type of offensive production all season?? I understand that Michigan’s D isn’t that good, and that Illinois just managed to take advantage of it. But 55 rushes for 377 yards? Illinois didn’t even manage that production against Illinois State earlier this season, in their only other win. That type of production has little to do with the quality of your opponent — You’re just getting the job done up front and mangling a team when you get that many yards. And even if Michigan’s defense (along with coordinator Greg Robinson) is terrible, Illinois still was great on offense, just like everyone thought they would be all season long.

So why now? Why, when they are 1-6, and 0-5 in the Big Ten, can Illinois suddenly move the football?  Why is the offense NOW able to create some opportunities? Why did it take so long for this team to finally get motivated and put up the effort which we all knew they were capable of?

Zook_thinkingUnfortunately, those are all questions that only Ron Zook has the answer to, and no doubt he’s not giving anyone the answers.

And therein lies the ultimate problem.

This team would have almost been better off playing horribly the rest of the season — this win only provides a ridiculous tease to an increasingly more disenchanted fan base.  While they were certainly placated during the second half, and most likely after the game as well, soon all of their minds will turn to these questions, namely, just where was all this effort all season long?

If Zook can’t figure out what worked this week, and how to consistently squeeze this type of effort out of his team, remarkably, the win may end up reflecting worse on him than any loss would have.