Illinois-Lewis Full-Court Vision: Live Blogging, Commentary & Analysis


UPDATE: Illinois wins 75-65. Don’t be fooled by the score. The game was much closer. Illinois played a very ugly game with the seniors really disappointing in terms of their overall approach. Quite frankly, Illinois got lucky to win this game. Despite not having the manpower, Lewis was the much tougher team. Here is the unimpressive box score.

Via live blogging, Writing Illini will follow the Lewis-Illinois exhibition opener, which will be streamed online at

The game starts at 7 p.m. central time and will also be followed on Writing Illini’s Twitter page.


Just forked over the $7.95 for the live streaming feed of the Lewis-Illinois game.

Usually, I don’t believe in paying to watch games from my computer, but I am just too excited to see the deep Illini in action.

I’m simply waiting for the feed.

I plan on breaking this game down in 4-minute segments.

My first big question is who will start for the Illini?

7:06 p.m.


I have received the feed.

Illinois will start Bill Cole instead of Jereme Richmond, and go with the expected lineup of Demetri McCamey, D.J. Richardson, Mike Davis and Mike Tisdale.

7:14 p.m.

Illinois leads 9-4 at the under-16.

Here are a few observations:

  • 4 of 5 starters have scored (Cole starts ahead of Richmond and misses a three).
  • Mike Davis is not wearing an undershirt and looks like he put on some legitimate muscle.
  • Davis had a nice offensive rebound and put in.
  • Tisdale looks a little bigger in the upper body but it is not as noticeable to me as with Davis.
  • After a three and beautiful floater, McCamey with a very bad decision on a fast break — charging over a Lewis defender.
  • Illinois brings in Brandon Paul, Jereme Richmond and Tyler Griffey off the bench with 16:12 left.
  • Illinois is allowing too much dribble penetration, which was a problem last year.
  • The Illini have also given up several offensive boards.

7:23 p.m.

Illinois trails 15-14 at the under-12 (11:53 left).

Here are some observations.

  • Brandon Paul is running the point with McCamey at the two out of the under-16.
  • Illinois looks tight and is very sloppy (4 turnovers).
  • The Illinois offense has very poor movement.
  • The Illini are struggling with their spacing.
  • Illinois with a 4-minute scoring drought before a Richmond 3-point play.
  • Tisdale played a good 7 minutes and did next to nothing but miss shots.
  • Richmond missed a face-up jumper and turned it over on the next possession.
  • Richmond looks to have a nice face-up game out of the post.
  • Tyler Griffey has been a step slow on defense.
  • Allowing dribble penetration has been a problem (and was a big problem last season).
  • Lewis has been the better team in terms of ball movement.
  • Meyers Leonard and Bertrand come in at 13:34.

7:31 p.m.

Illinois has just taken a timeout as a Lewis three-pointer puts the Illini down 26-20 with 7:56 remaining.

  • Illinois looks like garbage through the first 10 minutes.
  • Lewis is getting all the loose balls.
  • Crandall Head comes in out of the under-12 and gives up penetration.
  • Leonard make a nice lefty baseline hook.
  • Illinois can not make an outside jumper.
  • McCamey picks up another terrible charge on a fastbreak (he is trying to be too fancy and is making some poor decisions).
  • Intensity has been pretty bad for the Illini.
  • Mike Davis misses a fast-break layup, scores on an inbound play but misses a baseline hook and jumper.
  • Defensive rotation has been very slow for the Illini.
  • This team still struggles to close out on the three-point shot.
  • It’s time for the Illini to wake up.
  • The Assembly Hall doesn’t have much energy (Illinois will need to work hard to make this venue a home-court advantage again).
  • D.J. Richardson had a nice steal and layup but air balled a rushed jumper.
  • Once again, Lewis has gotten all of the loose balls.
  • Illinois looks like little has changed from last season thus far.

7:43 p.m.

Illinois trails 33-30 at the under-4 (exactly 3 minutes left).

  • A Richmond floater breaks a 3-minute scoring drought.
  • McCamey follows up with a steal and a layup.
  • Illinois trailed 29-20 with 7:02 to go but has woken up in the last minute, cutting the game to 5.
  • Head Coach Bruce Weber is putting out some weird lineups (the latest: Cole, Richmond, Griffey, McCamey and Richardson).
  • Richmond with a beautiful up-and-under move at 5 minutes.
  • Griffey has been a bit tentative around the rim in my opinion.
  • Richmond already seems to be the most mentally tough player on Illinois (that’s not a good thing if 4 seniors are starting).
  • Griffey finishes a nice layup and went up strong there.
  • Illinois has picked up the energy as of late but the overall body language hasn’t been that good.
  • Mike Davis ties the game at 30 with 3:48 to go with an offensive rebound and stick back (he has two baskets off offensive rebounds).
  • Brandon Paul allows terrible penetration by Lewis guard Chris McClellan (talk about matador defense).
  • Richmond is a really good passer out of the post, although he’s forced a couple of passes in tight spots.
  • Illinois has tried to pick up the pressure after made baskets.

7:52 p.m.

Illinois trails 37-35 at the half.

  • Crandall Head with a tough foul while trying to pick up the full-court defense.
  • Head later misses a three and travels on a baseline move.
  • Lewis is in the bonus because Illinois players are not doing a good job of sliding their feet.
  • Cole showing some energy, keeping two straight Illinois misses alive by crashing the boards.
  • Finally, the Illinois are in good position, with D.J. Richardson getting to the help line and taking a charge.
  • Richardson hits a tough two out of the corner.
  • With that said, Illinois has been playing a lot of 1-on-1 basketball.
  • Mike Davis with good work on the boards, rebounding a missed Leonard hook.
  • Richardson misses a three at the horn.

Halftime Observations

8:01 p.m.


  • Illinois was brutal in the first half, playing with poor energy and execution. Lewis was the better team in the first 20 minutes.
  • So far the 2010-2011 Illini look like the 2009-2010 Illini, and I’m not talking about the team that beat Wisconsin at the Kohl Center.
  • The Illinois seniors were very, very disappointing. Despite all of the hype, McCamey made some bad decisions and Tisdale was non-existent, resulting in him sitting most of the first half. Mike Davis at least played hard but couldn’t finish around the basket. Bill Cole was quiet until making a few hustle plays late.
  • Illinois didn’t look too sure of themselves on offense. Too much one-on-one/isolation play to my liking.
  • The Illini have allegedly been working on nothing but defense during the first two weeks of practice. It sure didn’t look like it in the first half. Like last season, Illinois couldn’t contain the basketball and was slow on its rotations, especially on the 3-point shot.
  • The freshmen look like freshmen who are a bit too jacked up. Richmond was probably the best Illinois player with 7 points and good energy after a tentative start. Leonard played hard but missed a few chippies. Head looked out of control in my opinion.
  • The sophomores weren’t anything special. Paul played with better control but has missed several threes. Richardson had a few bright moments but forced some offense. Griffey was tentative at the rim and struggled to slide his feet on defense.
  • It’s going to take Bruce Weber some time to figure out how to use this bench. He hasn’t had a bench this deep at Illinois. In my opinion, how Weber utilizes his bench will be the biggest question of the year? So far, the Illini have thrown out a lot of weird lineups.
  • This team already needs a good chewing out in halftime. That can’t bode well after one half of play in the exhibition opener.
  • Illinois better wake up in the first four minutes of the second half or this game could go to the wire.
  • Illinois was 1-of-7 from three. Lewis made 5 threes in the first half.

8:14 p.m.

The game is tied at 43 with 15:59 left in the half.

  • Weber starts Richmond in the second half, with Cole going to the bench. Tisdale should be on the bench to be honest.
  • Lewis gets the ball first.
  • Tisdale with good position, attempting to draw a charge and forcing a Lewis turnover on the first possession.
  • Richmond has a tentative layup blocked.
  • Davis finally  hits a baseline jumper to tie the game at 37 with 18:37 to go in the game.
  • Davis with good help defense at 18:25, blocking a driving Lewis player.
  • Davis is replaced by Cole (why?).
  • Richmond with a rushed shot that is missed.
  • Cole is late, just missing a charge.
  • Weber is making hockey-style changes thus far.
  • Tisdale makes two free throws and hits a half hook to tie the game at 41 with 17 minutes left.
  • Lewis guard Chris McClellan is having a much better floor game than McCamey.
  • Brandon Paul gets on the board with a steal and dunk at 15:59 to tie the game at 43.
  • The game is tied, but Illinois hasn’t looked much better out of the halftime gates.

8:25 p.m.

Illinois leads 55-49 with 11:43 to go in the second half.

  • Illinois brings some full-court pressure out of the under-16 (that’s nice to see).
  • The Illini force a steal with that pressure.
  • Paul with a beautiful no-look feed to Davis for a dunk.
  • Lewis comes back down and scores, with Tisdale trying to take a charge on the break instead of using his length to block a shot.
  • McCamey with a gorgeous baseline drive and lefty reverse layup.
  • Tisdale with a poor decision to double Davis’ man, leading to an easy Lewis basket.
  • Mike Davis is picking it up on offense, hitting a nice mid-range jumper off the bounce.
  • Again, the Illinois interior defense has poor rotation on a Lewis layup.
  • Tisdale hits a hook and finally gets a block.
  • Bill Cole scores a lefty layup on a nice feed from McCamey.
  • The Illini lead by 6 after hitting 7 straight shots with 12:25 to go.
  • The Illini have picked up the pace (it only took 27:35 to start playing with some energy).
  • Meyers Leonard with a nice closeout and block.
  • Richmond forces a pass to Paul that is stolen.
  • Leonard is late on the baseline, resulting in a blocking call that takes us to the under-12.

8:36 p.m.

Illinois leads 60-53 with 7:35 to go. The Illini were up 11 before the Flyers scored 4 straight points.

  • Illinois comes out with Richardson, Griffey, Leonard, Head and Richmond.
  • Griffey misses a corner three but Leonard’s hustle on the boards pays dividends as he is fouled.
  • Richmond with a beautiful post and lefty finger roll (plus the foul).
  • Richmond misses the free throw.
  • Head allows some terrible penetration and is slow to close out on a missed three.
  • He gets away with a foul on the shot and then sneaks out on the break, where he is fouled.
  • Head makes 1 of 2 free throws.
  • Richardson with good movement of his feet, forcing a Lewis turnover.
  • Lewis has not scored in a long time as the Illini have finally picked up the defensive intensity.
  • Leonard misses a right-handed half hook.
  • Griffey with great help defense, blocking a Lewis shot and propelling a fast break that results in a Head dunk.
  • Lewis’ Dennis Thomas Jr. throws up an air ball.
  • Griffey misses a quick three from the top of the key.
  • Richmond misses a baseline jumper and tries to get too fancy on a behind-the-back pass off the rebound.
  • Bertrand fouls Lewis on the break, and the Flyers get 2 free throws.
  • Leonard called for an offensive foul.
  • McClellan burns Head, resulting in penetration and a layup.
  • Leonard is called for another offensive foul, this time after getting an offensive board and throwing a high elbow.
  • Bruce Weber is not happy, but that was a good call.
  • I like Leonard’s attitude but you can’t get away with elbows to the other player’s face.

8:48 p.m.

Illinois leads 62-58 with 3:59 to go. The Illini have 1 point in the last 5 minutes.

  • Out of the under-8, Illinois brings in McCamey, Bertrand, Davis, Tisdale and Cole.
  • Davis secures a strong defensive board but is called for an offensive foul on a moving screen.
  • Bertrand does not box out and Lewis gets its 11th second-chance point to cut this game to 5-points.
  • Bill Cole with a nice hustle play, getting an offensive rebound of a Davis miss and drawing a foul.
  • Cole makes 1 of 2 free throws.
  • Tisdale with good help defense, helping Bertrand (who allowed penetration) and forcing a steal.
  • Davis called for a travel and shrugs his shoulders (let’s not resort to such bickering with the refs).
  • Richardson with good help-side defense but allegedly deflected the ball out of bounds.
  • This Illinois team still complains too much (Tisdale is now chirping at the ref).
  • McCamey fires a pass that is too hot to handle for Davis.
  • Illinois brings full-court pressure and steals the ball.
  • Brandon Paul with a terrible turnover, throwing a lazy left-handed pass as Tisdale made his cut.
  • Tisdale is called for a questionable blocking foul.
  • Once again, Tisdale went for a charge instead of a block.
  • I don’t care what anyone says but this kid looks as soft as ever (Tisdale needs to start playing with some toughness).
  • Tisdale is out (thankfully).
  • Richardson misses a three as Illinois hasn’t scored in a while.
  • Lewis is only down 5 with 4:17 to go.
  • Make that 3 as St. Joseph product Mantas Dubauskas makes a layup plus the foul.
  • Illinois hasn’t scored in 5 minutes.
  • Dubauskas fouls Richmond off the ball.
  • Illinois is in the bonus and Richmond hits 1 of 2.
  • Mike Davis keeps the play alive and Richmond is fouled on the follow up.
  • Richmond is clapping his hands.
  • This Illinois team is a little bit too sure of itself considering that it’s played like crap and only leads by 4 with 3:59 to go in the game
  • I haven’t seen the attitude change thus far.
  • As a team, the Illini have played liked punks tonight to be honest.
  • This team needs to grow up and, of course, take care of this game.

8:56 p.m.

Illinois  leads 66-63 with 2:01. Lewis will have the ball after a timeout.

  • Richmond is at the line and hits 1 of 2 again.
  • Mike Davis picks up an over-the-back foul, sending Lewis to the line.
  • Lewis hits both free throws.
  • 63-60 Illinois with 3:50 to go.
  • BTW, Illinois has a lineup of Davis, Richmond, Paul, Richardson and McCamey on the floor.
  • Davis hits a big half-hook on a feed from Richmond.
  • Richardson with good on-the-ball defense, forcing a travel.
  • Paul forces a drive and has the ball stolen away (that was a bad decision).
  • Richmond and Richardson with a nice trap, forcing a Lewis turnover.
  • Illinois with 20 turnovers.
  • Tisdale comes in for Paul.
  • Richmond with sloppy handles, getting the ball stripped from behind.
  • Lewis makes the steal and scores at the rim, plus the foul.
  • Lewis hits the free throw and trails 65-63 with 2:38 to go.
  • McCamey drives and gets fouled.
  • He can get to the lane anytime he wants (so why doesn’t he do it more often?).
  • McCamey hits 1 of 2 (wow, Illinois has been bad at the line).
  • Davis is slow to recover on a three that is luckily missed.
  • McCamey has the ball stolen due to some sloppy handles.
  • Lewis gets on the floor and calls a timeout.

9:04 p.m.

Illinois wins 75-65.

The Illini have a lot of work to do after an ugly win.

Exhibition game or not, the Illini didn’t play with much energy and coasted a little bit too much to my liking late in the second half.

Here is some commentary from the last 4 minutes.

  • Tisdale comes up with a loose ball after a missed three by the Flyers.
  • Richardson is fouled with 1:06 to go.
  • Richardson hits both free throws (he was great at the foul line last season).
  • Tisdale is replaced with Crandall Head.
  • Weber has been bringing in Paul and now Head to apply pressure after free throws.
  • Paul with good defense, knocking the ball away.
  • Head picks up the loose ball and hits McCamey for a layup.
  • Lewis misses a three and Head is fouled.
  • Head misses the first.
  • Richmond comes in for McCamey, who is holding his calf.
  • Head makes the second free throw.
  • Lewis turns the ball over, stepping out of bounds.
  • Richardson is fouled and hits both free throws.
  • Weber brings in Kevin Berardini (seriously Bruce? You’re barely beating a D-II team and putting in a walk-on).
  • McClellan buries a jumper over Berardini.
  • Lewis takes a timeout.
  • Head is fouled and hits 2 free throws.
  • Paul rebounds a Lewis miss as the horn sounds.

Some Thoughts

I don’t want to make too much out of an exhibition opener, but some very disturbing things took place tonight.

  • To begin with, Illinois played with a very arrogant attitude, as if it could turn it on and off against Lewis. The Flyers outworked the Illini all night long, getting most loose balls and penetrating at will. For all the talk of how Illinois had an attitude adjustment this off season, it certainly wasn’t apparent tonight.
  • The seniors didn’t set the tone, and the freshman seemed to follow their disappointing lead with an up-and-down game. For seniors who haven’t accomplished anything as a team and have talked about leaving Illinois with a legacy, they played with little urgency tonight.
  • Illinois had absolutely no rhythm on offense. The movement wasn’t crisp and there was a lot of standing around. The offense became too much one-on-one play. To make things worse, Illinois couldn’t hit from the outside. McCamey had a three in the first couple of minutes and that was it for the Illini from downtown for the rest of the game. Spacing was an issue in the first half.
  • Illinois turned the ball over 20 times tonight. There’s not much more I have to say about that.
  • Illinois was awful on defense, allowing too much penetration, struggling to close out on the three, rotating late and giving up some questionable offensive rebounds. Quite frankly, Lewis was the much tougher team tonight and deserved this game more than the Illini.

Here are some player observations.

  • Demetri McCamey was way too lackadaisical. If this kid wants to be National Player of the Year (not happening anyway), he needs to bring it all the time, regardless of if Illinois is playing Lewis or Texas. McCamey made strides as a junior in this area of his game; tonight, he reverted to his sophomore season. McCamey’s decision-making was atrocious, especially on the break. He committed two charges by trying to make the spectacular instead of the simple play. He failed to get the offense going and was outplayed by Lewis point guard Chris McClellan, who had a much better floor game.
  • Mike Tisdale was a player of two-halves yet again. That act is getting old for a senior. Quite frankly, this kid put some weight on this summer but didn’t look any tougher, at least tonight. To watch a 7-footer try to draw charges while defending on the break rather than using his length to block shots is very bothersome. Freshman Meyers Leonard may be raw, but he already does a better job than Tisdale of using his length on the defensive end of the floor. If Tisdale isn’t involved offensively, he is virtually useless.
  • Mike Davis struggled with his shot and complained a bit at the end of the game, but at least played hard. His work on the offensive boards was key. Of all the seniors, Davis had the best game, which isn’t saying much. With his improved upper body, Davis looks like he belongs down low.
  • D.J. Richardson needs to set the defensive tone for this team from the get-go because Illinois is not going to get much defense from McCamey or Tisdale. When moving his feet, Richardson is a great on-the-ball defender. Illinois lacked offensive movement all night and should not forget Richardson in the offense.
  • Bill Cole got the start, which scares me to be honest. If Cole needs to play big minutes on this team, that’s going to be a bad sign that the other Illini aren’t bringing the energy. Cole was quiet early on but  made a couple of hustle plays in the first half on the offensive boards. Weber made a good decision to start Richmond in the second half. Richmond needs to start on this team.
  • Jereme Richmond looked good in spurts and like a freshman in other spots. I liked his edge at times in the first half but thought he was a bit too sure of the outcome while Lewis was still in the game late in the second half. Richmond tried to make too many spectacular plays at times and simply needs to be a baller out there. Forget about the spectacular and the theatrics, and just attack.
  • Brandon Paul had a few bad decisions but generally played under control. With that said, his game was predicated on too many threes. Paul needs to attack the lane. I did like how Weber used Paul to bring some more on the ball pressure. For a player who is good in the passing lanes, Paul struggled containing McClellan at times.
  • Meyers Leonard missed some close shots but brought good energy in my opinion, doing a nice job on the boards. It’s quite apparent that Leonard is a much different 7-footer than Tisdale. Leonard knows how to use his length on defense, something that Tisdale fails to do on each possession. And Leonard has some legitimate attitude. While raw, Leonard should be very good in time.
  • Crandall Head reminded me of a young Luther Head tonight, playing way too fast for his own good. To be honest, Head and all of the freshmen were too quick tonight, making it that much more important for the seniors to provide some sense of normalcy. It doesn’t help when the seniors are playing like jerks, at least McCamey and Tisdale.
  • Tyler Griffey had a rough game. He seemed hesitant on offense, especially when catching in the post, and struggled to move his feet on defense in the first half. Like the rest of the Illini, Griffey could not hit from the outside.
  • Joseph Bertrand didn’t show much, but hasn’t played in almost two years. He is raw on offense but looks to be a great athlete, as advertised. If anything, Bertrand will provide the Illini with a much more athletic defender off the bench than Jeffrey Jordan ever was.
  • Head coach Bruce Weber threw some interesting lineups out there. It will take Weber some time to find lineups that work well together. Weber made a good decision to start Richmond ahead of Cole in the second half and should have benched Tisdale at the beginning of the last 20 minutes. Quite simply, Weber needs to send a message early this season that such play from his seniors will not be tolerated. Tisdale and possibly McCamey should be benched at the start of the next exhibition game. Whatever the reason why, Weber’s Illini were brutal defensively tonight. A lot of work needs to be done on both ends of the floor and at the foul line. Weber also needs to make his team more accountable. Tonight was not the game to send a walk-on in, especially when considering that Lewis was within 3 points with 1 minute left. To Weber’s credit, he did a good job of trying to bring more defensive pressure. Illinois is too athletic to set up its defense in the halfcourt.

Well, I’ve said enough about that disappointing Illini effort tonight.

At the end of the day, Illinois won by 10 and avoided getting embarrassed on Sportscenter with a loss to a Division-II school.

Until Tuesday, when the Illini take on Southern Indiana in another exhibition game.