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 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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Why do the Illini have so Little Fight on the Road?

ready for the dance illini

Following yet another disappointing road loss at Northwestern, Illinois Head Coach Bruce Weber talked about what he’s tried to fix their 1-4 in conference play road woes.

“We tried lineup changes, they all want to start, but step up and be a starter, make the plays. Billy (Cole) said it, we got to start the game with shutouts, we got to be determined, we can’t let a team, especially on the road, just jump on us,” he said of his woefully under-achieving Illini team.

It would help if the senior class started living up to their potential, but it was sophomore, Brandon Paul, who gave the media a soundbite Illini Nation would like to hear.

“It’s tough, we keep talking about the same thing, and people get mad, people talk about it, but actions speak louder than words, we got to do something about it,” Paul said.

Very true. It’s Groundhog Day, just like Weber said last Saturday, as the team keeps repeating the same mistakes all over again. Had they bothered to show up for the first 5 minutes of the games at Penn State, Indiana and Northwestern, they easily would have won all three. The final margin of defeat was so small that had Illinois not utterly sleep-walked out of the gate they could be 8-2 instead of 5-5 in Big Ten play right now.

By Paul M. Banks

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Can this Illini Team, specifically the Seniors, Ever Wake Up?

bruce weber demetri mccamey

“We have had people talk to them, and we did everything except electric shock [therapy] to get them going,  Illini coach Bruce Weber said about his college basketball team. “They have to jolt themselves from the inside. We have to be determined and not let a team, especially on the road, jump on us.”

Weber made this comment after his Illini team lost at Northwestern; despite beating the same exact team by 25 points just less than a month ago.

For whatever reason, the Illini can’t seem to put together any type of consistent effort and heart into their play this season; but this problem has actually persisted for the past three seasons.

During those past three years, the Illini have been led by a trio of seniors –center Mike Tisdale, power forward Mike Davis, and point guard Demetri McCamey. This trio looks dubiously poised to finish their collegiate careers with zero NCAA Tournament wins.

That’s a rare feat in Champaign- four years without a tourney win, and it’s unfathomable that a trio with six All-Big Ten selections combined will be a class that “accomplishes” this.

Why? In four years, they just NEVER learn from their mistakes.

By Paul M. Banks

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Northwestern Closes Out Illini, Illinois Road Woes Continue

In the second battle between Chicago’s two Big Ten college basketball teams, the outcome was drastically different from the first. Just how much of a disparity?

It would be like comparing the body composition of Illini Center Mike Tisdale (7-1, very svelte) to that of Jersey Shore star Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi (4-8, very squished).

In their first meeting in Champaign, Illinois crushed the Northwestern Wildcats 88-63, in a game that was even more lopsided than that final score reads.

But here at Welsh-Ryan Arena, the ‘Cats knocked off the Illini 71-70. Northwestern Head Coach Bill Carmody was asked if the home/road difference is truly worth 26 points?

“It was to them,” he answered.

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…]

Illini Whip Northwestern; Wildcats in 0-3 in Big Ten

Last year’s game was A BIT closer than this. When the Illinois Fighting Illini took on their rival Northwestern Wildcats for the first time in 2010, the annual meeting in Champaign resulted in an exciting and very high-scoring overtime thriller in which the Cats took care of the ball astonishingly well, committed very few mistakes, but fell just short.

This battle to be Chicago’s Big Ten team, was quite a different story.

It was long settled by halftime, as the Illini came out shooting fire and smoke like the mid ’90s “NBA Jam Session” arcade game. They made their first six threes, and shot a ridiculous 82% for the half. They also out-rebounded NU in the first twenty minutes 19-5. That added up to 47-24 lead at the break.

Yes, ILL doubled up the NU scoring output already by halftime.

By Paul M. Banks

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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!

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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 Takes Down Oakland in Weird, Wild Fashion

Illinois illini

It took finding out there was a women’s basketball in play for the first eight minutes of the game to get the Illini shooting a little.

“Our kids said something right away, but I was like, ‘You guys are just missing shots, shut up and play,'” Illinois head coach Bruce Weber said after the game. “I kept saying, they’re scoring, it can’t be too bad of a ball!”

And though the Illini went on to trail by as much as nine points in the second half, they immediately reeled off an 18-0 run and were able to rally for a 74-63 win over a VERY game Oakland Golden Grizzlies squad. [Read more…]