Illinois Basketball Summer School: Senior Guard Demetri McCamey, Part II

In part two of the Illinois basketball summer school series on Demetri McCamey, Writing Illini provides individual breakdowns of all 36 games that McCamey played in last season, and then highlights his top and bottom 5 games.

Tomorrow, part three will focus on areas of improvement for McCamey and also make some projections/predictions for the rapidly improving and maturing senior point guard as he enters his final campaign in Champaign.

SIU Edwardsville vs. Illinois (11/13/2009)

In his first game at the point, McCamey finished with a balanced stat line of 11 points (3-5 from the field, 1-3 from three, and 4-4 from the line), 7 assists, 4 rebounds, 2 steals and 3 turnovers in 26 minutes of an easy Illinois victory.

Northern Illinois vs. Illinois (11/17/2009)

Despite early foul trouble, McCamey stills logs 33 minutes, finishing with 10 points, 8 assists, 5 rebounds, 3 steals, 1 block and 4 turnovers during a 19-point Illini victory.

Presbyterian vs. Illinois (11/21/ 2009)

Through three games, McCamey was second in the nation in assists, with 10 dimes in this blowout and 25 on the young season.

Wofford vs. Illinois (11/24/2009)

Hits a huge three at halftime horn to put Illinois up 3 against the pesky Terriers and set the stage for a convincing second half performance from the Illini.

Utah vs. Illinois (11/27/2009)

With the exception of Mike Tisdale and Dominique Keller, McCamey is one of the few Illini to show up for this game in Vegas, but his 19 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists (versus 3 turnovers) and 2 steals in 32 minutes are not enough as Illinois blows a 16-point halftime lead and loses on a buzzer-beating layup that occurred after a missed McCamey jumper with 4 seconds left.

Bradley vs. Illinois (11/28/2009)

Lethargic effort (10 points on 4/13 from the field and 2-7 from three, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 5 turnovers and 1 steal) meshes well with a disinterested Illini team (besides Tisdale) that gets totally outplayed by the Braves, thus completing the Las Vegas weekend from hell.

Illinois vs. Clemson (12/2/2009)

Perhaps his most mature game as an Illini at that point in his career, persevering through some questionable foul calls and staying on the court with 4 fouls in the final 10 minutes to run the show and help Illinois complete an improbable 23-point comeback.

Boise State vs. Illinois (12/5/2009)

Gets his points (23) but not the assists (2) in a sluggish, inconsistent and lucky Illinois victory during which McCamey’s 6 turnovers are representative of the team’s sloppiness.

Vanderbilt vs. Illinois (12/8/2009)

Great effort and efficient 23 points (on 8-10 from the field) against the ranked Commodores are somewhat diminished by another game with 6 turnovers as McCamey is still a work-in-progress at the point early in the season; with that said, Illinois controlled this game from start to finish in large part due to McCamey and Tisdale.

Western Michigan vs. Illinois (12/13/2009)

Cuts his turnovers to 4 (while adding 11 points and 5 assists) and does not lose focus in the second half, playing hard and mostly under control as Illinois cruises to a big victory.

Illinois vs. Georgia (12/19/2009)

Guilty of turning it on and off against the Bulldogs, McCamey is terrible defensively all night against Georgia walk-on guard Ricky McPhee but nearly wins the game single-handedly with a dominant final couple of minutes, ultimately falling short on several late shots and finishing with 21 points, 5 assists and 2 turnovers during what would be another disappointing non-conference loss for the Illini.

Illinois vs. Missouri (12/23/2009)

Started strong (with 7 points in the first 4 minutes of the game) but let the Missouri pressure get to his emotions a bit, leading to a frustrated and inconsistent performance (13 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 turnovers in 35 minutes) during which he could not slow down the game and get Illinois into good half-court offense, and was outplayed by Missouri freshman point guard Michael Dixon. Certainly lacked the composure of former Illini point guard Chester Frazier, who picked apart the Missouri pressure in the 2008 Braggin’ Rights Game.

Northwestern vs. Illinois (12/30/2009)

Really struggled defensively as Northwestern hoisted up more than 40 threes, but did a good job of moving the ball against the 1-3-1 and getting it inside in the second half (as evident by Tisdale and Davis combining for 52 points). Contributed 9 points, 8 assists and only 2 turnovers in a workman-like 39 minutes.

Gonzaga vs. Illinois (January 2, 2010)

While playing 43 of the game’s 45 minutes and finishing with 20 points and just 2 turnovers, the difference between McCamey and Gonzaga point guard Matt Bouldin, in terms of settling down his team, was apparent late in regulation and overtime during this disheartening loss, which concluded with McCamey struggling to get the Illini into good offense and Brandon Paul forcing and missing a desperation three at the buzzer.

Iowa vs. Illinois (January 5, 2010)

Despite having 21 assists and just 4 turnovers in his last five games, McCamey is benched in favor of Jeff Jordan by Illinois head coach Bruce Weber, who is apparently trying to teach the junior a lesson about playing with more consistent effort; McCamey responds by not pouting but playing a focused 28 minutes marked by 9 points, 3 rebounds, 1 steal, 7 assists and 0 turnovers.

Illinois vs. Indiana (January 9, 2010)

A tale of two halves for McCamey: after not registering a field goal and getting outplayed in the first half by IU’s Jordan Hulls, the Illini junior point guard played like a mad man in the second half, driving to the rim with a reckless aggression and intensity that helped Illinois overcome a 15-point deficit. Finished with 19 points (11 from the free throw line), 9 assists, 4 rebounds, 2 steals and just 1 turnover in 37 minutes while looking and playing like a leader in the game’s final 20 minutes.

Penn State vs. Illinois (January 12, 2010)

Still far from perfect as a point guard (a late game mental lapse/bad pass nearly cost the Illini), McCamey was cold-blooded when it mattered, hitting a deep three and a long jumper off the screen and roll with less than two minutes to keep Illinois alive; finished with 25 points, 5 assists, 2 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 turnovers in the scrappy Illini victory that isn’t possible without the contributions of McCamey and Tisdale, who had 7 blocks.

Illinois vs. Michigan State (January 16, 2010)

Got off to a hot start but had a so-so overall performance (15 points, 5 assists, 3 rebounds and 4 turnovers) in the first Big Ten loss of the season. Along with Tyler Griffey, McCamey was Illinois’ best player in this game, with CBS’ Greg Anthony making a good point that “McCamey needs some help” after Tisdale and Mike Davis really struggled.

Purdue vs. Illinois, (January 19, 2010)

Couldn’t be contained during a spirited second half when he got into the lane at will, played like a pure distributor and kept Illinois in the game (along with Davis) before the Illini ultimately fell short despite his season-high 28 points, 9 assists, 2 steals, 1 rebound and 3 turnovers in 38 minutes.

Illinois vs. Northwestern (January 23, 2010)

Reverted to playing like an underclassmen, finishing with 13 points, 4 assists, 4 rebounds, 2 blocks and 1 steal but 6 turnovers in 39 minutes marked by some poor decision making and a lack of leadership, urgency or direction as Northwestern staged a furious rally late to steal this winnable game from the Illini.

Illinois vs. Penn State (January 27, 2010)

Voted a team captain (along with Bill Cole) prior to this game, McCamey responded with a beautiful floor game in the first half when he didn’t score but had 8 assists as Illinois scored 40 points as a team; wasn’t as good in the second half (just 1 assist), but showed leadership in helping the Illini remain calm after a PSU comeback and hitting a huge three late to help Illinois hold onto the win at Happy Valley.

Indiana vs. Illinois (January 30, 2010)

A somewhat up-and-down performance (19 points, 8 assists, 1 rebound and 4 turnovers in 36 minutes) characterized by some great passing at time and questionable decision-making in other spurts is remembered for McCamey hitting a game-winning floater at the horn but also notable for McCamey scoring his 1,000th career point early in the second half.

Illinois vs. Iowa (February 3, 2010)

Keyed a late first half run that put Illinois up 8 at the break and had a solid overall performance (15 points, 7 assists, 7 rebounds and 3 turnovers in 35 minutes) with the exception of an unnecessary and nearly costly lob pass at the end of what turned out to be an ugly victory in Iowa City.

Michigan State vs. Illinois (February 6, 2010)

Refusing to let the Illini lose, McCamey carried Illinois on his shoulders, hitting a huge three with 37 seconds left to stave off the rallying Spartans and providing an ironman performance (22 points, a then career-high 11 assists, 2 rebounds and 2 turnovers in 39 gutty minutes) in what was the biggest game and victory of the season at the time.

Illinois vs. Wisconsin (February 9, 2010)

After a lethargic first 12 minutes, McCamey goes off on the Badgers the rest of the way, shooting the ball like an assassin and picking apart Wisconsin with sharp passes to Tisdale in the pick and roll game en route to a spectacular 27 points (11-17 from the field, 3-4 from three, 2-4 from the line), 7 assists, 2 rebounds and 5 turnovers in 39 minutes of a stunning Illini upset at the Kohl Center.

Ohio State vs. Illinois (February 14, 2010)

Ohio State blitzes the Illini at the Assembly on Valentine’s Day, with McCamey reverting to some old tendencies (overdribbling, poor shot selection, sloppy passing, turnovers, frustrated emotions) en route to a cold shooting performance (4-12 from the field, 0-4 from three) in which he finished with 9 points, 9 assists, and 5 turnovers in 37 minutes; an uneven floor game for McCamey, who set up his equally cold-shooting teammates with a lot of good looks that were missed but couldn’t get the Illini comfortable against the 1-3-1 zone, all the while struggling on the defensive end against Jon Diebler.

Illinois vs. Purdue (February 20, 2010)

Ran a beautiful show at the point guard, tying an Illinois single-game record with 16 assists (set by Tony Wysinger in 1986) and playing a selfless game as the Illini gave Purdue a serious run until late, when the Boilermakers executed better than the valiant Illini; 6 points and 6 turnovers somewhat diminish from his fine passing, but this was a fantastic road performance from the junior.

Michigan vs. Illinois (February 23, 2010)

While finishing with a career-high 9 rebounds and adding 14 points and 4 assists in 37 minutes, McCamey was sloppy like the entire Illini team, finishing with 5 of Illinois’ 17 turnovers but doing just enough to hold onto an ugly, unimpressive win.

Minnesota vs. Illinois (February 27, 2010)

Poor shot selection, shooting and energy from McCamey, who was just 4-for-18 from the field and 1-12 from three while finishing with an inefficient 9 points, 10 assists, 1 rebound, 2 steals and 3 turnovers in 35 minutes of a home Illinois loss that would prove costly come Selection Sunday.

Illinois vs. Ohio State (March 2, 2010)

Masterful first half (12 points and scored or assisted on 15 of Illinois’ first 17 points) was negated by 2 fouls that forced his sitting and resulted in a quick Ohio State run that changed the game. Spirited effort in the second half fell short as Ohio State pulled away late to a 16-point victory that took some of the luster off McCamey’s 18 points, 7 assists, 4 rebounds, 1 steal and an impressive 0 turnovers in 36 minutes.

Wisconsin vs. Illinois (March 7, 2010)

An out-of-control game all the way around (with his play and emotions), finishing with 11 points (2-for-8 from the field), 4 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 turnovers in 32 tight minutes, and getting into an altercation with Weber on the sidelines as the Illini dropped its 3rd straight conference game heading into the Big Ten Tournament.

Illinois vs. Wisconsin, Big Ten Tournament (March 12, 2010)

With Illinois needing a win to keep its NCAA Tournament hopes alive, McCamey responded with great maturity following his altercation with Weber 5 days earlier by controlling the tempo of the game through the methodical yet effective pick and pop with Tisdale and contributing 13 points, 8 assists (compared to 3 turnovers), 5 rebounds and 1 steal in 40 gritty minutes.

Illinois vs. Ohio State, Big Ten Tournament (March 13, 2010)

Didn’t have his best shooting performance (7/19 from the field) and turned the ball over 6 times but played with incredible heart, leadership and toughness, nearly single-handedly winning the game with some “ice water in the veins” shooting in the first overtime and battling 46 of the game’s 50 minutes en route to 22 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds and 4 steals during the difficult but inspiring loss to the Buckeyes.

Illinois vs. Stony Brook, NIT (March 17, 2010)

Was a rebound shy of a triple double (16 points, 11 assists, 9 rebounds) in 40 minutes with Jeff Jordan suspended, but didn’t have the greatest body language, shot selection or control of the dribble at times; final stat line is still a reflection of how talented McCamey can be even when he isn’t having his best game.

Kent State vs. Illinois, NIT (March 22, 2010)

After settling for the three too much in the first half, McCamey bounced back with a solid second 20 minutes, playing with great emotion, creating one basket off his defense and finishing with 15 points, 10 assists, 3 rebounds, 3 steals and 1 turnover in 36 minutes.

Dayton vs. Illinois, NIT (March 24, 2010)

Struggled with his shooting (6/19 from the field) as Dayton’s break-neck pace hampered the Illini, but was two rebounds shy of another triple double (10 points, 10 assists, 8 rebounds) while adding 1 block and 3 steals in another 40 minutes of play during which he had to do everything for Illinois.

Top 5 Games

1. February 9th at Wisconsin: Following a huge victory at the Assembly Hall against fifth-ranked Michigan State, McCamey and the Illini came out a bit sluggish in the first 12 minutes against Wisconsin at the Kohl Center before the junior guard woke up and started firing on all cylinders. Getting hot at the end of the half, McCamey engaged in a one-on-one three-point shooting contest with Badger big man Keaton Nankivil, and ran the pick-and-pop game with a hot Mike Tisdale to perfection. Always one of the best teams in the country at controlling tempo, Wisconsin was kept off-balance all night by McCamey, whose 27 points and 7 assists keyed the shocking upset in Madison.

2. February 6th against Michigan State: Starting a brutal stretch of games to end the Big Ten regular season, Illinois couldn’t afford a home loss to Michigan State, especially with ESPN’s GameDay on campus. McCamey wouldn’t let the Illini lose, hitting some huge, gut check threes in the second half en route to a 22-point and 11-assist performance and Illinois’ first home victory against a top-5 ranked team since 2001.

3. March 12 against Wisconsin in the Big Ten Tournament: With Illinois needing a win to keep its NCAA Tournament hopes alive (and the prospects seeming unlikely after a home loss to the Badgers 5 days earlier), McCamey rebounded from an altercation with Bruce Weber to play a very mature and smooth game, running the pick and pop to perfection with the clutch and highly efficient Tisdale, chipping in some big buckets late in the shot clock, and contributing 13 points, 8 assists (versus 3 turnovers), 5 rebounds and 1 steal in another 40 minutes.

4. December 2, 2009 at Clemson: Never before did a 2-point and 7-assist performance look so good as McCamey was able to stay on the floor with 4 fouls in the game’s final 10 minutes while Illinois came back to stun the Tigers, which led by 23 points early in the second half. McCamey as a freshman or sophomore would not have had the discipline, maturity or composure to stay in this game, especially when considering that 3 of his 4 fouls were very questionable calls.

5. January 27th at Penn State: With Illinois having lost 3 straight to drop its record to 4-3 in the Big Ten, the Illini needed a win, and McCamey responded after getting voted a captain (along with Bill Cole) by his teammates. Despite not hitting a field goal until late in the second half (a huge three with about 2 minutes to go), McCamey dished out 8 assists as Illinois scored 40 points in what might have been its best first half of the season. Penn State would come back in the second half and take the lead, but the Illini would keep its composure in large part to McCamey and get the huge road win against a Penn State team that was 0-7 in the conference but better than its record indicated.

Honorable Mention: Both games against Purdue. In a home loss to the Boilermakers on January 19th, McCamey wouldn’t quit in the second half, playing a tremendous final 20 minutes and finishing with a season-high 28 points. During a tough loss at Purdue on February 20th, McCamey would dish out 16 assists (the most in the country last season during a single game) and tie a school record set by Tony Wysinger back in 1986.

Bottom 5 Games

1. February 27th against Minnesota: In the only matchup against the Golden Gophers last season, the Illini couldn’t afford a home slip up. Well, the Illini would play terrible for roughly 34 minutes before staging a furious comeback that was ultimately not enough. McCamey struggled mightily in this game, settling for too many threes (going just 1-for-12) and struggling to move the ball against Minnesota’s 2-3 zone. McCamey would finish with 9 points, 10 assists, 1 rebound, 2 steals and 3 turnovers, but lacked the necessary urgency for such a big game. Ultimately, Minnesota would get in the NCAA Tournament ahead of the Illini, with this loss definitely looking bad on the Illinois resume.

2. January 23rd at Northwestern: With the Wildcats looking like a possible NCAA Tournament team, Illinois could have used this road win in Evanston to boost its own tournament aspirations. Illinois had the Wildcats down in the second half but couldn’t put NU away due to a stretch of empty offensive possessions. The Illini let NU hang in too long, and the Cats would stage a furious comeback that left Illinois stunned and unable to recover. McCamey looked like an underclassman in this game, with his 6 turnovers and sloppiness offsetting his 13 points, 4 assists, 4 rebounds, 2 blocks and 1 steal.

3. March 7th against Wisconsin: Before his altercation with Weber, McCamey was struggling in this game, looking tight as Illinois knew it needed to win this final Big Ten regular season finale to keep the NCAA Tournament a viable reality without having to win a game in the postseason conference tournament. McCamey was overaggressive in this game, trying to do much too quick (but at least you can say his mistakes were the result of trying too hard as opposed to not trying). Finished with 11 points (2-for-8 from the field), 4 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 turnovers in 32 frustrated minutes. The sideline incident with Weber was unfortunate but shouldn’t take away from his great junior season.

4. November 28, 2009 against Bradley: Following the disappointing buzzer-beating loss to Utah the night before, McCamey had a rough shooting night, making just 4 of 13 shots en route to 10 points and ultimately struggling to provide some leadership by example after Illinois’ first loss of the season. Bradley outhustled the Illini from the start to the end of this game, and McCamey (along with fellow juniors Mike Davis and Mike Tisdale) should not have let that happened.

5. December 23, 2009 against Missouri: As Illinois lost the Braggin’ Rights for the first time in 10 years, McCamey struggled to control the flow against Missouri’s full-court game, which ultimately left him frustrated and a bit out of control as he forced the action at times.

Honorable Mention: December 19, 2009 against Georgia: While he nearly won this game with his offensive skills late, McCamey was bad defensively, allowing Georgia walk-on guard Ricky McPhee (nowhere near the player of Demetri) to have a big game and provide a nice spark for the Bulldogs.


Coming tomorrow: the third and final “Summer School” installment on Demetri McCamey.

Until then.

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