Recently, I revisited 32 of the 36 Illinois basketball games from the 2009-2010 campaign, breaking down each possession and developing notes on each player for the upcoming season.
At the end of each Illini Tale of the Tape, I typically named an Illini star of the game, though I may have avoided this award for certain losses since I felt it was a bit foolish to do so (for the purpose of this post, I have named a player in those situations).
It also should be noted that I originally awarded two Illini players in several games where it was really too close to call (but have since given it to one player) and even gave Bruce Weber the award once (more on that crazy reasoning below).
With that said, here are the final tallies for the Illini player of the game awards, with our 9 rotation players included and reserves like Richard Semrau, Stan Simpson and Bubba Chisholm not mentioned due to lack of playing time.
● Demetri McCamey – 10
● Mike Tisdale – 7
● Mike Davis – 4
● D.J. Richardson – 4
● Bill Cole – 2
● Dominique Keller – 2
● Tyler Griffey – 1
● Brandon Paul – 1
● Bruce Weber – 1
● Jeff Jordan – 0.
Check out the breakdown in more detail.
It should be noted that Illinois played 36 games last season; I recorded 32 of them but missed the SIU-Edwardsville, Northern Illinois, Utah and Bradley games because they weren’t on television.
● Demetri McCamey: Finished with a team-high 10 Illini player-of-the-game honors, though he certainly could have had a few more and had to do nearly everything at times last season for Illinois even to be competitive.
□ Indiana Hoosiers (1/9/2010): Amazingly gets his first player of the game award almost 2 months into the season as Illinois storms back from a 15-point deficit in the second half to win this game, with McCamey playing with a hunger, drive and fire in the final 20 minutes that was very encouraging to see. Consistently attacked the rim with no fear in the second half, shut down Indiana guard Jordan Hulls after a big first half from the IU freshman, and finished with 19 points (11 from the line), 9 assists, 4 rebounds, 2 steals and just 1 turnover in 37 minutes.
□ Penn State Nittany Lions (1/12/2010): I originally gave this game to Tisdale, but the honor really should go to McCamey, who had 25 points, 5 assists, 2 rebounds, 2 steals and just 2 turnovers in 37 minutes, all the while keeping Illinois in the game with some cold-blooded shooting in the final 2 minutes. I think a late mental lapse by McCamey, when he had a pass stolen while playing keep away but was bailed out by a foul call, is probably why I didn’t originally give him the honors. That really wasn’t fair on my behalf, and Illinois just wouldn’t have won this game without Demetri despite Tisdale having 16 points, 13 rebounds and 7 blocks.
□ Purdue Boilermakers (1/19/2010): This home loss was a tough call, as I originally gave the honor to Davis (17 points and 15 rebounds) over McCamey (28 points and 9 assists). Looking back, this was like splitting hairs as Davis and McCamey were really good in both Purdue games. With that said, I’ll give this game to McCamey while giving Davis the Purdue game on the road, one in which McCamey had 16 assists but also 6 turnovers and Davis had a career-high 5 blocks along with a resounding double-double (16 points and 12 rebounds).
□ Indiana Hoosiers (1/30/2010): With the Illinois donned in pink uniforms for cancer awareness, McCamey made up for some late sloppiness with a buzzer-beating floater that gave the Illini the 2-point victory and avoided an embarrassing upset. Finished with 19 points, 8 assists, 1 rebound and 4 turnovers in 36 minutes.
□ Iowa Hawkeyes (2/3/2010): In an ugly victory when no Illini was truly outstanding, McCamey finished with 15 points, 7 boards and 7 assists and had a mini-run late in the half that helped Illinois pull out to a decent lead at the break.
□ Michigan State Spartans (2/6/2010): With ESPN on campus and this game marking the beginning of a brutal stretch to end the Big Ten season, McCamey shined in 39 huge minutes, playing like an assassin in the second 20 minutes and refusing to let the Illini lose en route to 22 points, 11 assists, 2 rebounds and just 2 turnovers. Hit a big three with 37 seconds left in the game to put Illinois up 5 points and help the Illini hold onto the win.
□ Wisconsin Badgers (2/10/2010): In the shocker of the year, McCamey led the Illini to a huge upset at the Kohl Center, displaying a spectacular shooting exhibit at the end of the first half and then running the pick and pop game with Tisdale to perfection. Finished with 27 points (11-17 from the field, 3-4 from three, 2-4 from the line) and added 7 assists and 2 rebounds in 39 minutes in what might have been McCamey’s signature game of his excellent junior season.
□ Ohio State Buckeyes (2/14/2010): In a Valentine’s Day blowout suffered at the Assembly Hall, I hesitantly gave this honor to McCamey, who struggled mightily from the field all night (as did his teammates) en route to 4-12 from the field and 9 points. With that said, McCamey had 9 assists and would have had 4-5 more assists if his teammates hit some open and makeable shots in the first half. As a team, Illinois was flat-out brutal in this game.
□ Ohio State Buckeyes (3/2/2010): Originally, I gave this honor to no one on the Illini; however, considering that I’ve probably shortchanged McCamey by splitting the Purdue games with Davis, I’ll give it to McCamey during this 16-point loss at Ohio State, a game which was much closer than it appeared. McCamey was brilliant in a very competitive first half, and when he sat for a couple of minutes with foul trouble, Ohio State made a huge run. He wasn’t as good in the second half but had a very respectable line of 18 points, 4 rebounds, 7 assists and 0 turnovers in 36 minutes.
□ Dayton Flyers, NIT Quarters (3/24/2010): While Illinois got controlled from the get go in this game, McCamey played all 40 minutes, struggling with his shooting but falling 2 rebounds shy of a triple double (10 points, 10 points, 8 rebounds).
● Mike Tisdale: Finished with 7 player-of-the-game honors, which was second on the team only to McCamey. Tisdale’s impact can be forgotten at times, especially when considering some of his stinkers (Gonzaga, the away game at Michigan State).
□ Wofford Terriers (11/24/2009): Against what would be a 2010 NCAA Tournament team in Wofford, the Illini get great balance from McCamey, Davis, Richardson and Tisdale, whose post touches, size and efficient shooting (12 points on 6-for-8 shooting) were key to Illinois turning this game around late in the first half and ultimately taking control in the final 10 minutes.
□ Vanderbilt Commodores (12/8/2009): In what was arguably one of the Illini’s best team efforts from start to finish all season, Tisdale was huge from the get go, catching fire in the first half and playing with some toughness and nastiness against the more heralded A.J. Ogilvy, who quite frankly got embarrassed on this night. Tisdale’s 12 points and 5 rebounds don’t do justice to his impact in a victory when McCamey had better stats but Tisdale set the tone.
□ Northwestern Wildcats (12/30/2009): Illinois made it a focal point to get Tisdale the ball inside against the smaller Cats, and the Illini junior center responded with a career-high 31 points and added 11 rebounds before fouling out in the overtime victory. Without Tisdale and Davis (21 and 17), Illinois doesn’t win this game, thus both players got the player of the game award. Note that I originally awarded both Tisdale and Davis the player of the game awards for the Big Ten opener, but Tisdale clearly deserved it for this post.
□ Michigan Wolverines (2/23/2010): When Illinois need a win, it escaped with a very ugly and sloppy one, with Tisdale falling just short of a double-double (9 points and 11 rebounds), doing a lot of key things and playing with the most consistency of anyone during an inconsistent team effort. I liked his defense, specifically his foot movement against the quicker DeShawn Sims (who struggled inside all night) and his help-side efforts against a driving Manny Harris.
□ Wisconsin Badgers (3/7/2010): In the regular season finale, Illinois needed a win at the Assembly Hall but didn’t get it, looking like a tight and frazzled team (as evident by a frustrated McCamey getting ripped on the sidelines by Weber for trying to through the coach during a timeout). Of the Illini, Tisdale was probably the best in this game, as he finished with 16 points (4-6 from the field, 8-8 from the line) but had just 4 rebounds. Originally, I did not give player of the game honors for this game.
□ Wisconsin Badgers, Big Ten Tournament: (3/12/2010): With Illinois absolutely needing a win to keeps its NCAA Tournament hope alive, Tisdale was brilliant in the pick-and-pop game, finishing with 21 points (8-for-10 from the field), 8 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block and 3 turnovers in 35 minutes.
□ Stony Brook, NIT Opening Round (3/17/2010): Illinois had great balance in this game and McCamey was a rebound shy of a triple double, but Tisdale was huge in the second half, scoring 13 of his 15 points in the last 20 minutes to help the Illini get a working lead and then hold on late. His late three with 1:30 left gave Illinois some needed distance against the jacked-up Seawolves.
● Mike Davis: Finished with 4 player-of-the-game honors. For all his inconsistency, Davis did finish with 17 double doubles last year, second in the Big Ten to only Evan Turner of Ohio State.
□ Clemson Tigers (12/2/2009): While Tisdale was huge late in this historic comeback, Davis had the bigger impact on this game, finishing with 22 points and 9 rebounds against eventual 2010 first round draft pick Trevor Booker, logging heavy minutes when Tisdale struggled in the first half, and playing with a controlled anger and urgency in the second half that helped fuel the improbable victory.
□ Purdue Boilermakers (2/20/2010): While McCamey had an incredible 16 assists in this tough loss at Mackey Arena, he also had 6 turnovers. Davis was pretty nasty and efficient in this game, finishing with 16 points, 12 boards and a career-high 5 blocks. McCamey certainly could have gotten this honor in both Purdue games, but when Davis plays with such activity, the Illini are a much more difficult team to play.
□ Ohio State Buckeyes, Big Ten Tournament (3/13/2010): I originally gave this honor to the entire team following this gutsy performance in a double-overtime loss. While that holds true, I’ll now give it to Davis (even though McCamey, Richardson and Griffey deserved much consideration) due to his inspired play late when he had some huge buckets as Illinois came back from a disabling 20-0 run by the Buckeyes. Playing with great focus and urgency in both games in the Big Ten Tournament, Davis finished with 13 points and 18 rebounds in 46 gutsy minutes.
□ Kent State Golden Flashes, NIT Second Round (3/2/2010): I originally gave this honor to 3 of the 4 starting juniors (McCamey, Tisdale and Davis), all of whom were instrumental in Illinois turning a tied game at the break into an impressive double-digit victory. With this in mind, I’ll give this game to Davis, who had 16 points (8/14 from the field), 16 rebounds (14 on the defensive glass), 1 assist and 1 turnover in 36 minutes, and played with great energy in the second half.
● D.J. Richardson: Finished with 4 player-of-the-game honors during his Big Ten freshman of the year campaign.
□ Presbyterian Blue Hose (11/21/2009): In my first viewing of the freshman and the 2009-2010 Illini, Richardson did not disappoint, bagging 4 threes, finishing with 15 points and playing some great on-the-ball defense as Illinois ran away with this one at the Assembly Hall.
□ Iowa Hawkeyes (1/5/2010): Following the Gonzaga loss when he looked a bit like a lost freshman, Richardson was benched in favor of Paul but responded with 17 points (15 from beyond the arc), 5 rebounds and 1 assist during 26 minutes of Illinois’ less-than-impressive victory against the Hawkeyes.
□ Northwestern Wildcats (1/23/2010): During a disappointing loss in Evanston where the upperclassmen struggled (McCamey had too many turnovers, Davis was a no-show, Tisdale wasn’t tough enough in stretches), Richardson got the call here, leading the Illini with 17 points and chipping in 5 rebounds and 4 assists in 31 minutes. I originally had Richardson and Paul share these honors, but Richardson was the more consistent player in this game when looking back now.
□ Penn State Nittany Lions (1/27/2010): In Happy Valley, Richardson had a solid 20 points and helped Illinois hold on late with some clutch free throws, all the while snapping a 3-game Big Ten losing streak.
● Bill Cole: Finished with 2 player-of-the-game honors, 1 while coming off the bench and the other when starting.
□ Georgia Bulldogs (12/19/2009): It’s hard to name a player of the game after a disappointing loss, but Cole made a lot of hustle plays, provided a spark of energy off the bench in the second half, and finished with some solid contributions overall (9 points and 5 rebounds in 17 minutes), suggesting what his role on this team would be later in the year.
□ Minnesota Golden Gophers (2/27/2010): In a terribly disappointing home loss that probably cost Illinois an invitation to the Big Dance, Cole was a key spark during a furious second-half comeback, scoring all of his 15 points from three during the second half. Actually looking to shoot the ball in this game, Cole caught fire, and the Illini began to ran some plays for him before he fouled out late.
● Dominique Keller: 2 player-of-the-game honors, with his effort at the United Center against Gonzaga his best performance as an Illini.
□ Western Michigan Broncos (12/13/2009): Keller’s insertion, along with Bill Cole, at the under-16 of the first half paves the way for a 35-point Illinois blowout, with the senior reserve scoring 16 points on an efficient 5-for-7 from the floor and playing with the type of energy off the bench that would unfortunately be missing during most of his last campaign in Champaign.
□ Gonzaga Bulldogs (1/2/2010): With Tisdale having arguably his worst game of the season due to some terrible fouls (though there was the Michigan State game in East Lansing as well), Keller had his best game of the season and as an Illini, helping spur a furious comeback, hitting a three with 7 seconds left to tie the game and force overtime, and finishing with a career-22 points in 34 minutes that also brought 9 rebounds, 3 assist, 3 steals , 2 blocks and a junk-yard dog mentality from the junior college transfer.
●Brandon Paul: 1 player-of-the-game honor, though it should be noted that Paul would have garnered two more for the first two games of the season (SIU-Edwardsville and Northern Illinois). Unfortunately, those games weren’t on in my area (thus I couldn’t record them and later break them down).
□ Missouri Tigers (12/23/2009): On the night the Braggin’ Rights died, Paul was one of a few Illini to play with any toughness and urgency in a second half when the Illini got punched in the mouth and didn’t respond. Certainly out of control and too aggressive at times, Paul finished with 11 points, 4 boards and 2 turnovers, but at least showed some competitive spirit here while other Illini players looked a bit shell-shocked during this Tiger whipping.
●Tyler Griffey: 1 player-of-the-game honor.
□ Michigan State Spartans (1/16/2010): Griffey’s coming out party, with the freshman playing with incredible poise at the hostile Breslin Center and shooting the ball with no hesitation en route to 12 points in 15 minutes. Also added 7 rebounds; unfortunately, Griffey’s first half spark wouldn’t be enough as Michigan State took control of this game and ran away with things in the second half.
● Bruce Weber: 1 player-of-the-game honor, which is weird to say, but his late-game use of timeouts and Illinois’ ensuing execution basically won the Boise State game for Illinois.
□ Boise State Broncos (12/5/2009): In a sloppy win that lacked urgency and a killer instinct after the Clemson triumph, no one Illini player merited this honor; with that said, Weber’s management at the end of this game proved most important, using two late timeouts that resulted in Illinois scores and kept the Broncos at bay.
● Jeff Jordan: 0 player-of-the-game honors, though he had very nice games against Vanderbilt, Missouri and Kent State.
Coming tomorrow, I plan on introducing my Illini Basketball Summer School series and what that will entail.
Topics: Alex Legion, Assembly Hall, Bill Cole, Brandon Paul, Bruce Weber, D.J. Richardson, Demetri McCamey, Dominique Keller, Illini Basketball, Illinois Basketball, Jeff Jordan, Jeffrey Jordan, Mike Davis, Mike Tisdale, Richard Semrau, Tyler Griffey, U-of-I Basketball, University Of Illinois