Illinois sophomore D.J. Richardson (#1) as a freshman

Illinois Basketball Summer School: Sophomore D.J. Richardson, Part II

In part II of the Illinois Basketball Summer School series on sophomore guard D.J. Richardson, Writing Illini details his 2009-2010 highlight and lowlight, provides a game-by-game breakdown of his freshman season, and lists his top and bottom five games.

Richardson’s Season Highlight:

At Penn State on January 27, 2010, Richardson helped the Illini snap a 3-game Big Ten losing streak, scoring a season- and career-high 20 points on 5-for-7 from the field and a cool 8-for-8 from the free throw late in the game to help the Illini get a much needed win.

Richardson’s Season Lowlight:

While going 0-for-8 from field during a loss to Michigan State on January 16th, Richardson at least competed hard and with some awareness. During a January 2nd loss to Gonzaga the United Center, Richardson looked like a freshman unready for the big stage, resulting in his benching for the next Illinois game against Iowa.

Game-by-Game Breakdown of Richardson’s Freshman Season

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

Scores 14 points on an efficient 3-for-5 from the field (and surprisingly no three point attempts) and 8-for-10 from the free throw line in 20 minutes as the Illini roll to a 27-point win in his first collegiate game.

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

Plays more minutes (31) than the first game but is not effective on a night when fellow freshman Brandon Paul really shined, scoring 5 points on 2-for-5 from the field, adding 3 assists (versus 2 turnovers) and chipping in 2 steals.

Presbyterian vs. Illinois (11/21/ 2009)

Impressive Big Ten Network television debut, leading the Illini with 15 points (mostly from behind the arc) and more importantly displaying some advanced all-around skills and intangibles for a freshman, including distributing the rock (season-high and career-high 5 assists), rising on his jump shot with good lift, getting into the opponent while guarding, moving his feet well, and diving for a loose ball with the team up 26 points in the second half.

Wofford vs. Illinois (11/24/2009)

Gets hot in the first half, scoring all 12 of his points on 4 threes, and adds a three late in the second half to finish with 15 points as Illinois finally pulls away from the pesky Terriers.

Utah vs. Illinois (11/27/2009)

Is very quiet during Illinois’ first loss of the season, struggling from the field (1-for-5) and scoring just 3 points in only 18 minutes.

Bradley vs. Illinois (11/28/2009)

Completes a forgettable weekend in Vegas with 5 points (on 2-for-9 shooting), 2 assists and 3 turnovers in 31 minutes of another discouraging Illini loss.

Illinois vs. Clemson (12/2/2009)

Looks like a freshman in the first half in his first true college road game (after reportedly failing the walkthrough earlier in the day) but rebounds with a big second half, hitting 3 threes (including a humongous trey plus the foul for a 4-point play), making some hustle plays (drawing a charge, keeping an offensive possession alive by crashing the glass), and finishing with 14 points to help Illinois pull out a stunning comeback after falling down by more than 20 points.

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

Has a 7-point spurt early in the game and finishes with 14 points on a night when he made some careless mistakes (several turnovers) but also showed some of his smarts, dribbling out the clock late rather than going up for a layup as Illinois held onto a sloppy win.

Vanderbilt vs. Illinois (12/8/2009)

Primarily a 3-point shooter early as a freshman, takes his game to the mid-range in the first half, showing an effective ability to rise and fire off the bounce, and hits his first three with 14 minutes left in the second half to cap off a very impressive 16-point performance on 7-for-11 shooting (including another 5-0 run by himself) and a strong overall Illini team effort against the ranked Commodores.

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

Shows off some of his sneaky defensive abilities and passing skills, and adds an efficient 12 points (on 2-for-3 from three) during 27 minutes of an Illinois blowout.

Illinois vs. Georgia (12/19/2009)

During one of his rare poor performances as a freshman, scores 6 points (all from three) in the first half and then goes scoreless in the second half, when he forced some quick shots and struggled to defend and contain the dribble of Georgia’s perimeter players during a disheartening loss for the Illini.

Illinois vs. Missouri (12/23/2009)

Finishes with 11 points but struggles adjusting to the frenetic pace of Missouri’s style of play, as evidenced by his 5 turnovers (according to the ESPN telecast) at halftime and overall poor decision making and sped-up play.

Northwestern vs. Illinois (12/30/2009)

While having a quiet first half, responds with a better second half and overtime, finishing with 12 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 turnovers in 41 big minutes and doing a nice job along with Demetri McCamey of moving the ball in the last 25 minutes against the NU 1-3-1.

Gonzaga vs. Illinois (January 2, 2010)

In one of his more difficult games of the season, plays with his heads in the clouds, scoring 6 points in just 15 minutes, guarding the wrong player at one point in the first half, getting benched at the start of the second half, and failing to get a shot off at the end of regulation, much to the dismay of assistants Jay Price and Wayne McClain.

Iowa vs. Illinois (January 5, 2010)

Is benched (along with Demetri McCamey) at the start of this game, but responds with 9 quick points in his first 8 minutes on the court, regains his shooting stroke from three (15 of his 17 points were from behind the arc), and plays with much better overall focus and court awareness after struggling in 3 of his last 4 games.

Illinois vs. Indiana (January 9, 2010)

Starts the game with 6 quick points( all from three), hits a huge/cutthroat jumper off a curl with 1 minute left to put Illinois up for good, and finishes with 14 points, 2 boards, 1 assist, 3 steals and 2 turnovers in 35 minutes during which he had a couple of freshman breakdowns but actually made a lot of nice little plays.

Penn State vs. Illinois (January 12, 2010)

Has a bit of a quiet offensive performance, finishing with just 6 points (on 2 threes) in 36 minutes, but provides tough defense against Penn State guard/Illini killer Talor Battle, who got into the lane at times but shot 4-for-19 on the night and struggled in close (thanks to the backline defense of seven-footer Mike Tisdale).

Illinois vs. Michigan State (January 16, 2010)

Scores just 2 points (from the free throw line), fails to hit from the field (going 0-for-8), settles for too many threes (6 of his shots were from beyond the arc) and struggles to contain Michigan State’s Kalin Lucas during a very tough Saturday afternoon in East Lansing, Michigan.

Purdue vs. Illinois (January 19, 2010)

Keeps the Illini in the game late with some difficult threes (all 12 points were from the three-point line) and gives a good overall effort despite struggling in the second half with E’Twaun Moore, who took over for the Boilermakers.

Illinois vs. Northwestern (January 23, 2010)

Best Illini player on the court on a night when juniors McCamey, Tisdale and Mike Davis really struggled, finishing with 17 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 turnovers in 31 minutes and going on a customary mini-scoring tear in the first half of a game that Illinois should have but didn’t put away.

Illinois vs. Penn State (January 27, 2010)

Fantastic performance as Illinois breaks a 3-game losing streak in the Big Ten, finishing with 20 points on an efficient 5-for-7 from the field and 8-for-8 from the line, hitting 6 free throws in the final two minutes, and making Battle work hard for his 20 points.

Indiana vs. Illinois (January 30, 2010)

Has a shaky, youthful performance, finishing with 8 points, 2 rebounds and 2 steals but 4 turnovers in 30 minutes and playing very sloppy at the end of the first half, when Indiana made a stunning run and tied the game at the break on a half-court shot.

Illinois vs. Iowa (February 3, 2010)

Sort of quiet for most of his 33 minutes in this ugly road victory, has a stretch where he quickly scores 8 of his 11 points but struggles containing Hawkeye guard Cully Payne at times in the second half.

Michigan State vs. Illinois (February 6, 2010)

Sporting a shaved head, comes out with his guns blazing in the first half, hitting some big 3s and applying great defensive pressure on a Michigan State perimeter without Kalin Lucas, and makes 3-of-4 big free throws late en route to 14 points, 1 rebound, 2 assists (versus 1 turnover) and 2 steals in 32 energetic minutes during this huge Illini win.

Illinois vs. Wisconsin (February 9, 2010)

Is nonexistent, rushed and foul-plagued in the first half, but bounces back with an impactful and mature second half, making himself a presence defensively, hitting a huge pull-up jumper off the bounce with under 4 minutes to go, and  finishing with 9 points, 4 rebounds, 1 block, 1 steal and 2 turnovers in 29 minutes of this shocking Illini upset.

Ohio State vs. Illinois (February 14, 2010)

On a Valentine’s Day when the entire Illini team couldn’t hit the shooting target at all, fails to make a field goal until the 14-minute mark of the second half and finishes with just 4 points on 2-for-10 from the field (0-for-7 from three) but at least keeps fighting, displaying great defensive competitiveness against Evan Turner with the Ohio State victory already well-decided in the second half.

Illinois vs. Purdue (February 20, 2010)

Is a key contributor during a well-played but tough loss for the Illini, making a couple of freshman mistakes but playing tough defense, hitting some big shots during a tense second half, and finishing with a gutsy 10 points, 2 rebounds and 2 assists (versus 2 turnovers) in 36 minutes.

Michigan vs. Illinois (February 23, 2010)

During another ugly victory for the Illini, struggles shooting the ball (2-for-12 from the field) but did a nice job containing Michigan’s Manny Harris (who got into the lane at times but couldn’t finish at the rim) en route to 8 points (6 of which came in a brief spurt in the first half), 5 rebounds, 2 assists (versus 1 turnover) and 1 steal in 37 minutes.

Minnesota vs. Illinois (February 27, 2010)

Has a hot shooting stretch late in the game to keep Illinois alive but misses a desperation shot to tie the game at the buzzer, all the while struggling with his shooting (10 points on 4-for-12 from the field, 2-for-8 from three) and defensive containment of Minnesota’s guards for most of this loss that would hurt the Illini on Selection Sunday.

Illinois vs. Ohio State (March 2, 2010)

Has a quiet game on the offensive end (6 points on 2-for-5 from the field, with both makes from three) and commits 4 turnovers in 35 minutes, but does grab 5 rebounds and play tough defense against Ohio State star Evan Turner, who really had to work for his stats on this night.

Wisconsin vs. Illinois (March 7, 2010)

Has a quiet, almost non-existent game during Illinois’ brutal end to the Big Ten regular season, finishing with just 5 points (1-for-5 from the field), 1 rebound and 1 assist in 28 minutes.

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

Is limited by foul trouble and sloppy handles (6 turnovers in the game) but competes really hard defensively in the first half before hitting some opportunistic threes in the second half en route to 12 points (3-of-4 from three), 4 rebounds and 1 block in this must-win for the Illini, which hold on despite a furious Wisconsin rally late in the game.

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

Displays great competitive fire during this inspiring double-overtime loss, forcing 5 Evan Turner turnovers in the first half, providing tough defense on the Ohio State star for most of the game, scoring 11 of his 15 points in the first 20 minutes (including 3-for-5 from three in this period of the game), and contributing 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal and 1 block in 45 ironman minutes.

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

Has some difficult moments guarding Stony Brook’s three-point shooter Brian Dougher but hits some huge threes in the second half en route to 16 points (5-for-12 from the field, 4-for-10 from three, 2-for-2 from the free throw line), 2 rebounds and 1 steal in 38 minutes.

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

Contributes his usual momentum threes but has a bit of a quiet performance, finishing with 8 points (on 3-for-10 from the field and 2-for-6 from three), 2 rebounds, 3 assists and 1 turnover in 31 minutes of a game where Illinois’ juniors (McCamey, Davis and Tisdale) really shined in the second half.

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

Finishes his very solid freshman season on a bit of a quiet note, notching 10 points on 4-for-11 from the field and 2-for-6 from three and adding 2 rebounds, 2 assists (versus 1 turnover) and 1 block, but struggling to contain Dayton’s speedy point guards during his 31 minutes on the floor.

Richardson’s Top 5 Games

1. Illinois vs. Penn State (January 27, 2010): See Richardson’s season highlight.

2. Iowa vs. Illinois (January 5, 2010): Responds with great maturity in his one and only game coming off the bench following a tough performance against Gonzaga, scoring 17 points as Illinois beats the Hawkeyes by 17.

3. Michigan State vs. Illinois (February 6, 2010): Plays with great energy on both ends of the floor, sparking the Illini early with some long jumpers, making things tough offensively for a Michigan State team without Kalin Lucas, and finishing with 14 points in 32 huge minutes.

4. Vanderbilt vs. Illinois (December 8, 2009): Has a very mature game for a freshman, taking his shooting from outside the arc to the mid-range, flourishing at a 7-for-11 clip from the field, and scoring 16 points as Illinois knocks off the ranked Commodores.

5. Illinois vs. Ohio State, Big Ten Tournament Semifinals (March 13, 2010): Helps upstart Illini take a surprising lead at halftime, scoring 11 of his 15 points in the first half, and most importantly competes his behind off in 45 minutes of guarding Evan Turner, who had 10 turnovers in this game.

Richardson’s Bottom 5 Games

1. Gonzaga vs. Illinois (January 2, 2010): Looks a step behind and out of sorts all day long, resulting in a season-low 15 minutes, just 6 points and a benching for the Iowa game.

2. Illinois vs. Michigan State (January 16, 2008): Gets a rough introduction to the Breslin Center, missing all 8 of his shots, scoring only 2 points, and struggling to contain the ball on the defensive end.

3. Illinois vs. Wisconsin (March 7, 2010): Is tight like many of his teammates in this must-win at the end of the Big Ten regular season, getting only 5 shots in 28 minutes and scoring just 5 points as the Illini fall.

4. Illinois vs. Missouri (December 23, 2010): Looks uncomfortable against Missouri’s frenetic pace, with his handful of turnovers having more of an impact than his 11 points.

Tied for 5. Utah and Bradley vs. Illinois (November 27 and 28, 2010): Has a forgettable weekend in Vegas, scoring a combined 8 points in 49 total minutes of what would be Illinois’ first 2 losses of the season.


In a couple of days, Writing Illini will wrap up the Illinois Basketball Summer School series on D.J. Richardson with a scouting report of his game, some areas of improvement entering his sophomore season, and a couple of projections for 2010-2011.

Until then.

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Tags: Assembly Hall Bill Cole Brandon Paul Bruce Weber Crandall Head D.J. Richardson Demetri McCamey Illini Basketball Illinois Basketball Jereme Richmond Joseph Bertrand Meyers Leonard Mike Davis Mike Tisdale Tyler Griffey U-of-I Basketball University Of Illinois

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