Illinois 81, Iowa 68: Rapid Reaction

Illinois basketball

It was a college basketball game that highlighted one of the main reoccurring themes of the Illinois Fighting Illini season. Every time they had a big lead, they just couldn’t find a way to step on their opponents’ throat.

The “killer instinct,” or “closing speed” just was not there. It seemed like every time they went up 15, the margin was back to five or less before you knew it.

The 81-68 Illini win certainly was a game of runs in the first half as the Illini 10-0, then Iowa went  11-1, followed by ILL 16-2, then Iowa 11-5 over the final five minutes to close half.

And up until the 6:02 mark in the second half, when Demetri McCamey hit a dagger to put the Illini up 17, this Big Ten brawl constantly shifted back and forth between non-contest and close game.

By Paul M. Banks

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Illini Need to Rock the Mike (Tisdale, Davis) Right this Season

mike-tisdale

During the last Illinois Fighting Illini season, they were too many college basketball games in which Bruce Weber could have described Demetri McCamey by a familiar rock anthem.  The Cars’: “you’re all I’ve got tonight. I need you. Tonight!”

If there’s one thing I do know, it’s that Big Ten and NCAA expectations at Illinois will only materialize if that song becomes played out and obsolete; metaphorically speaking.

If there’s a second thing I know, it’s don’t live with a woman whose behavior draws Tara Reid comparisons, and worse yet takes those comparisons as profound compliments. Because either situation (over-reliance on one player or dating a Tara Reid wannabe) will inevitably end badly.

Illini Head Coach Bruce Weber has said “we’ll be as good as our seniors,” and that means McCamey, but it also means Center Mike Tisdale and Power Forward Mike Davis.

By Paul M. Banks

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Illini Hoops Media Day Notable Quotables (Videos)

illinois

Last season, the Illinois Fighting Illini were one of the most schizophrenic teams in the Big Ten, if not the nation.

They beat Michigan State, a Final Four team in an emotional ESPN College Gameday event, and won at Wisconsin’s Kohl Center, where almost no one beats the Badgers. They also had Ohio State, a #2 seed in the NCAA Tournament on the ropes in the conference tournament semis before angering/motivating Evan Turner, the man who swept last year’s national player of the year awards, to extinguish their NCAA hopes in double overtime.

I also watched from press row on my birthday as the Illini lost a “play-in game” of sorts at home to Minnesota, and heard them fumble away early season games to Utah and Bradley on a neutral court.

So this year it’s all about finding consistency and finding a true identity. Especially since expectations are bubbling up in Champaign. They have a loaded senior class in place, a talented sophomore class, and highly nationally ranked incoming freshmen.

If they learn to defend better, it could be a special year.

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