Illinois Fighting Illini 2010-2011 Recap, Early look Ahead to 2012

Bruce Weber Illinois

Inconsistency, lack of effort, and disappointing: those three words are as good as any when it comes to summing up the University of Illinois Men’s Basketball 2010-2011 season. For a team that was supposed to do great things this year, they had a very up and down campaign. After starting the season 10-1 (only loss coming in OT to Texas at Madison Square Garden), the Illini stumbled in the back half, and finished with a 20-14 record.

The biggest problems the Illini had were mental.

But it didn’t help that their point guard wasn’t able to be a true distributor in their motion offense. He had to do most of the scoring himself. Not having a dominant insidepresence hurt too.

The player who decided the Illini fate most of the time was makeshift senior point guard Demetri McCamey. When he played well, Illinois was a team that could beat anyone on any night. But when he was off, and he was off quite a bit in midseason, the Illini could lose to any one (see: 7-24 Illinois-Chicago).

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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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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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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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Video Exclusive Illini Mike Tisdale Interview

miketisdale

Interview by Paul M. Banks and Paul Schmidt, write-up by PMB

When it comes to the NBA Draft, any 7 footer with average-or- better athleticism is a bonafide prospect. Illinois junior Center Mike Tisdale (7’1”, 235) is certainly on the radar screen of NBA GMs for 2011, if not 2010. An honorable mention All-Big Ten selection by coaches and media, he was one of the league’s most improved players, finishing fourth in the Big Ten in field goal shooting and second in the league in conference play FG percentage. He was the team leader in blocked shots, ranking fifth in the Big Ten.
He doesn’t do all his work inside either, as he possess very nice form on his jump shot.

In a sound trashing of the Michigan Wolverines last winter, Tisdale stepped out and knocked down a couple big treys, prompting opposing coach John Beilien to tell the media: “I didn’t know he could do that. I didn’t know he could Pittsnogle us.” Beilien was referring to the former West Virginia University icon he once coached Kevin Pittsnogle who (according to a New York Times feature last March) is now well over 300 pounds, out of basketball and lives in a double-wide.

Tisdale is also well known for the overly publicized 6,000 calorie a day diet that the program has put him on, in the hopes that he will gain some weight and become a bulkier post presence. When I look around in a room full of sports writers, I think they share his diet. If Tisdale gets big enough to bump and grind with the big boys, he’ll obtain the consistency that he lacks now. Becoming more sure of himself would help too. We discussed his confidence, whether he would just rather have a salad sometimes and much more in this video below

Last season Tisdale was the team’s leading scorer in 11 games, more than any of his teammates. Over one five-game stretch, he averaged 19.0 points while shooting 58.8 percent. As of today, it looks like he’ll be a mid 2nd round pick in 2011, because his career arc (at this early stage at least) is reminiscent of former Illini big man Robert Archibald. He was never an actual star, but was solid enough to be drafted 31st overall by the Memphis Grizzlies in 2002.