Illinois 73-Yale 46: Hoop Musings for the Morning After, Game Number Six


I’ll be the first to admit that I had a hard time focusing during last night’s Illinois-Yale game, which was a bit of a snoozer.

Apparently, the Illini had the same problem, at least until late in the first half, when the team started to pull away from a Yale squad that had little athleticism or size.

With that said, here are some quick observations on last night’s game.

● Illinois came out sluggish and disinterested, and it showed as an offensively-challenged Yale team hung around despite really struggling to score the basketball. All in all, the Illini were very choppy during the first 20 minutes. With that said, at least the Illini played decent defense against a Yale team that hit 12 threes in an upset victory against Boston College last weekend.

● There was a small moment in the first half that really stood out (at least to me) and highlighted the difference between the Illinois senior and freshman classes. With roughly 5 minutes to go in the first half and Illinois leading by single-digits, Demetri McCamey was guarding a Yale player at the top of the key when the Illini senior poked the ball away. A perfect opportunity to get on the floor for the loose ball, McCamey stayed upright as the Yale player picked up the ball and fired to a teammate on the wing. Getting in the passing lane, Illinois freshman Jereme Richmond deflected the ball, which was clearly going out of bounds, but still got on the floor to try and save it, drawing cheers from the quiet Assembly Hall crowd. While it’s great to see a freshman hustle, what does it say when a senior fails to do the same? Still early in the season, I have my doubts about this Illinois team advancing far with this senior class, which has been much better than last season but still has ways to go.

● One more senior moment bothered me last night. Early in the second half, Mike Tisdale had the ball at the top of the key and tried to swing the ball to the wing. Unfortunately, Tisdale made a lazy reverse pass that was stolen. Yale would race down the court and miss a layup that was knocked out of bounds. After the play, Tisdale was seen smiling, as if the previous turnover meant nothing to him. Will these seniors ever fully get it?

● I like the game plan early on against Yale. Illinois made it a point to go to Tisdale early and often. Unfortunately, the senior center missed some close shots that he usually makes. Perhaps Illinois would have jumped on Yale early if some of those early bunnies fell?

● Head coach Bruce Weber seemed to be using this game as an opportunity to work on his lineups. With about 10 minutes to go in the first half, Weber had all three true freshman on the floor in Richmond, Meyers Leonard and Crandall Head.

● Despite playing maybe 15 minutes of solid basketball last night, Illinois still won by 26. The Illini have yet to play a complete game (maybe against Toledo?) and could be 6-0. All in all, the talent on this team is scary. Yale head coach James Jones noted before the game how he’s never seen a team the size of Illinois in all of his years of coaching. I don’t care what any analysts say, but Illinois is the deepest team in the country. Once again, an 8-man rotation won’t be good enough this year.

Here are some quick thoughts on some individual performances against Yale.

Demetri McCamey

11 points (5-13 from the field, 1-3 from three, 0-1 from the foul line), 5 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 turnovers, 3 steals and 2 fouls in 32 minutes.

● Despite the decent numbers, McCamey seemed a bit unmotivated last night, throwing a couple of lazy passes and missing shots that he’s usually been making. Ultimately, if McCamey wants to go where he wants to go (the NBA), he’s going to need to do a better job of setting the tone early, even against inferior opponents like Yale and Western Michigan. McCamey was spectacular in this phase of the game against Maryland but struggled against the Bulldogs.

D.J. Richardson

16 points (6-8 shooting, 3-4 from three, 1-1 from the foul line), 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 turnover and 1 foul in 28 minutes

● It was nice to see D.J. rediscover his stroke, which was a bit inconsistent in New York City, and have more balance in his game, shooting an equal number of twos and threes. D.J. hit an early three when getting his feet set and square for a 5-0 Illinois lead and had a really strong finish at the rim in the second half, using his left hand for a banker plus the foul. Richardson was a bit nonchalant when attacking the rim in NYC.

Bill Cole

0 points (0-3 from the field, 0-2 from three) and 1 assist in 11 minutes

● Stat line says it all: Cole didn’t do much, or anything that I can recall, last night.

Mike Davis

9 points (4-5 from the field, 1-2 from the foul line), 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 3 turnovers, 1 steal, 1 block and 3 fouls in 23 minutes

● Davis had his second straight quiet game, although I’m starting to wonder if he’s getting forgotten just a bit in the Illinois offense. With that said, this game figured to be one where Davis would get more than a handful of rebounds, but Illinois actually had some problems inside against Yale, at least in the first half.

Mike Tisdale

10 points (5-10 from the field), 13 rebounds, 1 assist, 3 turnovers, 3 blocks and 1 foul in 24 minutes

● The Yale game figured to be one where Tisdale could have a big scoring game, and the opportunities were certainly there. Tisdale just couldn’t get his shot to fall early on. With that said, I’ll give Tisdale credit in terms of getting 13 rebounds in 24 minutes. That’s great productivity, especially for a guy who has never been much of a rebounder at Illinois. When staying on the court, Tisdale has done a great job on the boards during his senior season, leading the Illini at 7.7 boards per game.

Jereme Richmond

9 points (4-10 from the field, 1-3 from the line), 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 turnover and 1 foul in 28 minutes

● With his minutes increasing, Richmond provided some nice energy off the bench, hitting a jumper early in the first half, working hard on the block and getting on the floor. In short, Richmond is not the most efficient player at this point in his career but is definitely a gamer.

Brandon Paul

7 points (3-for-6 from the field, 0-2 from three, 1-2 from the foul line), 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 turnover and 3 steals in 17 minutes

● Paul didn’t play much in the first half and actually was a bit loose with his dribbling last night, though he only had 1 turnover. Paul did have two nasty dunks in the second half, including a facial at the rim and a loop off a nice McCamey finish.

Meyers Leonard

8 points (3-for-3 from the field, 2-3 from the foul line), 3 rebounds, 1 turnover and 1 foul in 13 minutes

● Leonard brought some decent energy in the first half and had an overall efficient performance that was highlighted by two nice dunks at the end of the first and second halves.  I actually had more fun noticing some of Leonard’s facial expressions following plays than watching this game.

Tyler Griffey

0 points (0-4 from the field), 2 turnovers and 3 fouls in 10 minutes

● As much of a Griffey fan as I am, the sophomore looked very hesitant on Tuesday night, missing all four of his shots and getting called for a travel in the first half as a result of not being strong enough with the ball on the perimeter. Griffey had a rough one but will bounce back if the minutes are there.

Crandall Head

0 points (no shots), 1 assist, 1 turnover, 1 steal and 1 foul in 8 minutes

● Head played the same amount of time as in the Maryland game, but didn’t have a similar impact against Yale.

Joseph Bertrand

2 points (1-1 from the field), 1 rebound and 1 steal in 4 minutes

● Bertrand hit a nice floater in the lane late in the game. I have not seen enough of this kid to make a fair judgment of his skills, though Bertrand looks like he can be a capable, spot defender on this team if given the chance.

Jean Selus

1 point (1-2 from the foul line) and 1 foul in 1 minute

● The walk-on got in late and hit a free throw for his first point of the season.

Kevin Berardini

1 assist in 1 minute

● Illinois’ other walk-on played late in the blowout.


Until Saturday, when the Illini travel to Western Michigan, a team Illinois beat handily last season.