As a surprising sophomore in 2008-2009, Illinois forward Mike Davis led the Big Ten with 9 double doubles.
During his junior season, Davis upped his double doubles to 15, which seemingly would have led the conference any other year.
Unfortunately for Davis and the Illini, Ohio State’s Evan Turner was a force to be reckoned with in 2009-2010, when he finished with 16 double doubles, won Big Ten Player of the Year, and received numerous National Player of the Year awards during an All-American campaign that would be followed up by getting drafted #2 overall by the Philadelphia 76ers in the 2010 NBA Draft.
As for Davis, his double-double totals suggest on paper that he had a very consistent junior season.
In reality, his third year was way too up-and-down for an upperclassman, though he seemed to regain his mojo late in the season, as detailed in Part I of the Illinois Summer Basketball School series on Mike Davis.
What’s Been Going on This Summer
After his junior season, Davis (along with teammate Demetri McCamey) declared for the NBA Draft but did not hire an agent. He worked out for the Portland Trail Blazers and received feedback (e.g. be more consistent, be a key player on a winning team, etc.) on what he needs to do to improve his draft stock next season. Davis withdrew from the draft by the May 8th deadline and received praise from Illinois head coach Bruce Weber on how he communicated with the program throughout the entire draft process.
During this summer between his third and fourth season at Illinois, Davis has been working on his game and strength (weighing in at personal high 221 pounds, squatting 365 pounds and bench pressing 225 pounds). He is also saying all of the right things, suggesting that his senior season is about nothing else but the team as opposed to personal goals, noting that the legacy of the senior class is on the line after really not accomplishing anything significant during their first three seasons, and adding that the Illini have the talent to be an Elite Eight team.
Davis appears motivated like never before, posting on his Twitter account this week that Weber recently gave the team an inspiring speech about reaching the 2011 Final Four in Houston and adding that he is ready to start the season right now.
In the past, motivation and focus have been problems for the talented but enigmatic and inconsistent Davis. With that said, it will be interesting to see how Davis’ new outlook translates on the court once the ball is tipped in November.
Davis’ Junior Stats/Accomplishments
● Honorable mention All-Big Ten by media.
● Averaged 10.7 points, 9.2 rebounds, 0.6 blocks, 0.9 assists, 0.5 steals, 1.5 turnovers, and 32.2 minutes per game last season.
● His 9.2 rebounds per game led the Big Ten, becoming the first Illini in 23 years (Ken Norman) to finish as the conference’s top rebounder.
● Was Illinois’ leading rebounder in 27 of 36 games.
● Had 15 double doubles, finishing second to Evan Turner.
● His 10.7 points per game were third on the team, behind Demetri McCamey and Mike Tisdale.
● Had 24 games with double digit socring.
● Started 32 of 36 games.
Game-by-Game Breakdown of Davis’ Junior Season
Makes the most out of his 22 minutes, finishing with 10 points (4-5 from the field but 2-6 from free throw line) and adding 10 rebounds during Illinois rout.
Gives huge effort on the defensive boards, where he snags 13 of his 17 total rebounds, and chips in 14 points (4-9 from the field) during another Illini double-digit win.
Falls just short of a double-double (12 points and 9 rebounds) but is very active and effective, especially in the first half (8 points and 8 boards).
Was really good in spurts but quiet in others, getting hot late in the game after struggling with his shooting early in the second half to finish with 14 points and 10 rebounds and help Illinois muzzle the pesky Terriers.
Doesn’t show up for Illinois’ first loss of the season, finishing with just 2 points on a rough 1-for-6 from the field and grabbing just 5 rebounds in 25 ineffective minutes.
Much better effort following the Utah game, finishing with 17 points (7-13 from the field, 3-4 from the line) and adding 8 rebounds in 35 active minutes, but it doesn’t matter as the Illini are upset two days in a row in Las Vegas.
With the exception of a quiet stretch in the first half, plays a tremendous overall game, finishing with a clutch 22 points on 9-for-11 shooting, helping spark a historic Illini comeback with a huge three-point play and reverse layup in the second half, coming up with a big offensive rebound late in the game, and demonstrating controlled nastiness and unbridle energy that were lovely to watch.
Ends up with another double-double (16 points and 12 rebounds) but struggles with his shooting (missing 11 shots), post defense and overall intensity, playing great in brief spurts but also looking disinterested for a fair share of the game.
4 points, 8 rebounds and just 5 shots would seemingly indicate a quiet and inactive game, but does a lot of little things well (passing the ball from the middle of the zone to the short corner while Illinois torched the nets in the first half and playing tough defense on Vanderbilt’s Jeffrey Taylor) during another Illini victory against a ranked opponent.
Finds his shooting stroke (6-for-10 from the field) en route to another double-double (12 points and 10 rebounds) as Illinois roughs up the Broncos.
Finishes with 12 points while logging a workmanlike 38 minutes with Tisdale in foul trouble, but struggles with Georgia’s interior size and wears out at the end of the game, as evidenced by a nonchalant layup attempt in the final 2 minutes that would have given Illinois the lead but was emphatically blocked away by Georgia guard Travis Leslie.
11 points and 13 rebounds in 37 minutes look alright in the box score, but actually had an out-of-sorts performance, struggling all night with his decision making and effort against Missouri’s pressure, coughing up the ball 5 times and rushing (and air balling) several wide open shots.
Rebounds from a quiet scoring first half (4 points) and makes up for a couple mental gaffes with terrific energy, urgency and determination in the final 20 minutes and overtime, finishing with a huge 20 points (on an efficient 9-for-14 from the field) and monster 17 rebounds while taking the game over in the extra session with several post-up scores on isolation plays after Tisdale (31 points and 11 boards) had fouled out.
Came out asleep with the rest of the Illini (resulting in a huge hole early) and struggled with his shooting (6-for-16) and post defensive against the Gonzaga front line, but did log 43 tough but very up-and-down minutes with Tisdale in foul trouble; came up with a huge offensive rebound to help force overtime.
Very nondescript 24 minutes, finishing with just 6 points and 5 rebounds during the Illini’s less-than-impressive victory.
Despite 11 rebounds, has another game where his lack of activity (just 2 points and 2 field goal attempts in 33 minutes) and lack of concentration (4 turnovers) were mind-boggling.
With the exception of a few bright spots, is MIA yet again, registering just 2 points (on 1-for-6 from the field) and 4 rebounds in 28 minutes and seemingly having a hard time getting motivated to play.
Was involved, active and pretty good early in the game, but tailed off big time the rest of the way, struggling again with his shooting (just 4-for-15 from the field for 11 points), grabbing only 4 rebounds, playing too fast at times, and seemingly fighting himself and having lost a lot of confidence at this point of the season.
Has his best game since the Big Ten opener, going for 17 points and 15 rebounds, playing like a terror on the offensive glass in the first half, rediscovering his stroke and keeping the Illini in the game (along with McCamey) during the second half, and logging 38 huge minutes while Tisdale was a no-show again due to foul trouble and an early disqualification.
Was physically on the court, but that was about it on this very inactive night, failing to score and grabbing just 2 rebounds in 23 minutes, getting benched at the start of the second half for the more effective Dominique Keller (at least in this game), and playing with an extremely disinterested and perplexing attitude after a great effort days earlier against Purdue.
Gets benched at the start of the game for Tyler Griffey, and while he isn’t totally out of his funk, responds with a quietly effective performance (11 points on 4-for-6 from the field and 8 rebounds in 27 minutes), including several big shots that helped Illinois hold off the Nittany Lions.
Benched for the second straight game and responds by doing absolutely nothing in the first half, resulting in him sitting out the first 12 minutes of the second half before providing a decent spark in the last 8 minutes en route to 6 points, 2 rebounds, 1 steal and 1 block in 19 bipolar minutes.
Hits a big shot late to put Illinois up 5 en route to a tight victory but is not active enough off the bench, finishing with 6 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block, 1 steal and 2 turnovers in 29 minutes.
Settled a bit too much for the jump shot and didn’t go inside enough against the physical Spartans (he had just 2 rebounds on the night) but played a very good energy game off the bench, finishing with 16 points (7-for-13 from the field) and 2 humongous blocks in the final minutes.
Gets inserted back in the starting lineup but is not active or involved offensively (0 points and just 2 shots), though he does make a couple of key hustle plays late in the game and finishes with 8 rebounds in 25 relatively quiet minutes that were not really noticed because of McCamey and Tisdale’s big performances during this stunning upset at the Kohl Center.
Played with good energy in the first half, but like the rest of the Illini couldn’t hit the broad side of the barn during this blowout; was really quiet in the second half before finishing with 8 points (4-for-11 from the field), 7 rebounds, 1 steal and 2 turnovers in 31 frustrated minutes.
A valiant but turnover-plagued effort by the Illini comes up short at Mackey Arena, where Davis goes the whole 40 minutes and has one of his most active, productive and focused games of the season, finishing with 16 points (on 8-for-14 shooting), 12 rebounds and a career-high 5 blocks (4 in the first half) that made you forget about his 4 turnovers.
Plays with great energy and activity in spurts (see his 13 points and 12 rebounds) but has his fair share of frustrating moments (2 turnovers, some mental lapses, etc.) in 38 minutes that were just good enough but ultimately left a lot to be desired in terms of Davis’ and the team’s hungriness.
Struggles shooting (4-for-11 from the field en route to 10 points) but was one of the few Illini to play with decent energy (12 rebounds) during 36 minutes of action that also saw him get a technical and have a huge mental lapse late in the game that resulted in a Minnesota backdoor layup that would prove to be the difference.
Played hard and with good activity, but was a bit too fast with his game at times, all the while finishing with 9 points on a difficult shooting night (4-for-13) and adding 11 rebounds in 37 minutes.
In this must-win for the Illini, came out with great energy and focus in the first half before becoming almost nonexistent in the second half; struggled defensively against Jon Leuer and finished with 6 points (3-for-9 from the field), 8 rebounds and 1 block in 34 minutes.
His final stat line (10 points, 10 rebounds, 2 blocks and just 1 turnover in 39 minutes) was good but did not do enough justice for his great focus, efficiency (4-for-6 shooting), activity and toughness against the bigger Leuer as the Illini fought through recent adversity to come together and control the game in this absolute must win.
Follows up with another impressive game in the Big Ten Tournament, keeping the Illini alive late in the game with some clutch shooting, playing in spurts like a difference maker on both ends, finishing with a heartfelt, inspiring and focused 13 points, 18 rebounds and 3 steals, and giving the team all he had in 46 tough minutes of this double-overtime classic.
Seems to be understanding the importance of playing with much more consistent focus and energy (later is better than never I guess) as his jumper is clicking en route to 17 points on 8-for-11 shooting, all the while accumulating 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal and 4 turnovers in 34 minutes.
Make that 4 straight solid games for Davis, who was a bit up-and-down in the first half before responding with a huge second half both from a shooting/energy standpoint and finishing the game with 16 points, 16 rebounds and his 15th double-double of the season.
A fitting end to his strange junior season, as he lacks much activity (8 quiet rebounds), is described by the television announcers as having a quiet game, and struggles with his shot (4-for-10 from the field en route to 10 points) while the Flyers run the Illini out of the Assembly Hall and the NIT.
Top 5 Games
Give Davis credit: he never quit in this game as Illinois fell behind by 23 points early in the second half. In fact, he had a big three-point play early in the second half (hanging back after an Illinois make to steal a Clemson inbounds pass, miss a quick shot, but follow his miss with a put-back plus the foul) to help spark the amazing Illini comeback.
Without the combination of the Mikes – Tisdale and Davis – the Illini wouldn’t have gotten this must-win Big Ten opener against the Cats. Tisdale (31 points, 11 boards) and Davis (20 points, 17 points) picked apart NU on the interior, where both of these players would be well served to play more often. Davis was especially huge in the overtime, becoming the go-to-guy in the post when Tisdale was disqualified with five fouls.
Don’t let his 2 rebounds fool you; Davis was very active off the bench in this huge Illini win, during which he scored 16 points on an efficient 7-for-13 from the field, used his great length to swat two Michigan State shots in the final couple of minutes, and finished off the upset with a huge two-handed slam.
While Davis was spectacular during a January 19th home loss to Purdue (17 points and 15 rebounds), his defensive intensity in this loss at Mackey was splendid, as evidenced by a career-high 5 blocks in 40 valiant minutes. Davis also chipped in 16 points on 8-for-14 shooting and ripped down 12 boards.
During this 50-minute, double-overtime classic, Davis logged 46 minutes, scoring 13 points and grabbing 18 rebounds. Late in regulation, Davis nearly helped the Illini win it, scoring several huge baskets and following up with a big-time steal that led to a Demetri McCamey three and brief Illinois lead. While Davis failed to get a shot off at the end of regulation, he played with a ton of heart in not only this game but the Big Ten Quarterfinal a day earlier against Wisconsin.
Honorable Mention: Illinois vs. Wisconsin, Big Ten Tournament (March 12, 2010)
Davis played with much better consistency and urgency in 4 of Illinois’ final 5 games, including these 3 games.
Bottom 5 Games
After going for 20 points and 17 rebounds in the first matchup against Northwestern, Davis was a no show in Evanston, finishing with 0 points on just 3 shots and only 2 rebounds in 25 foul-plagued and inactive minutes. Davis was benched at halftime of this contest and would not start in the next 4 Illini games.
Following Illinois’ first loss of the season on a buzzer-beating layup by the Utes, Illinois head coach Bruce Weber noted how Davis didn’t show up for this game. It’s hard to argue with Weber’s commentary when looking at Davis’ 2 points (1-for-6 from the field) and 5 rebounds in 25 minutes.
Thanks to fellow juniors McCamey and Tisdale, Illinois nipped Penn State during an ugly affair where Davis struggled shooting (1-for-6) and contributed just 2 points and 4 rebounds in 28 minutes.
After the Illini fell to Gonzaga for its fifth non-conference loss, Davis avoided getting benched at home against the Hawkeyes, but hardly played with great energy, finishing with a pedestrian 6 points and 5 rebounds in 24 blah minutes that would be the beginning of a rough stretch for the junior.
Smack in the middle of his early season Big Ten slump, Davis did grab 11 rebounds against the Hoosiers but was not involved offensively, scoring 2 points on just 2 shots and turning the ball over 4 times in 33 minutes.
Dishonorable Mention: Indiana vs. Illinois (January 30, 2010)
Coming off the bench, Davis was inactive in the first half, resulting in him sitting the first 12 minutes in the second half. To Davis’ credit, he was active in the final 8 minutes, though his overall approach to this game was confounding.
Inserted back into the starting lineup after a huge win against Michigan State, Davis did grab 8 rebounds but didn’t seize the day at the Kohl Center, coming out asleep with his teammates (with the exception of Tisdale) and going scoreless again. Luckily for him, McCamey and Tisdale were huge on this night.
In the second of three parts of the Illinois Summer Basketball School series on Mike Davis, I will use all of these game-by-game breakdowns to recap his junior season and highlight his best and worst moment last year.
Part III will then provide a scouting report on Davis, note his growth as a junior, detail 5 areas where he needs to improve as a senior, and make some projections for his final campaign in Champaign.
Look for that early next week.