Illinois 86, No. Colorado 76: Hoops Musings for the Morning After, Gm. 11


Illinois head coach Bruce Weber wasn’t happy with his team’s defensive effort yesterday and for good reason.

Leading Northern Colorado by 19 points at halftime, the Illini allowed 50 points in the second half, resulting in a much closer game than it should have been.

Mike Davis admitted afterwards that the team was too loose in the pre-game warm-ups and that all the blame for the Illini’s up-and-down effort falls on him and the other three seniors.

With these points in mind, here are some observations on yesterday’s win.

While letdowns in the the Oakland and Northern Colorado games were a bit expected when considering that Illinois previously defeated North Carolina and Gonzaga and that the team is going through finals week (thus resulting in sleepy Assembly Hall crowds), the Illini were really sloppy in both wins. Most concerting to me were how loose the Illini were when passing the ball (15 turnovers yesterday, 11 on Wednesday, but 9 in the first half), the team’s continued struggles on the glass (29 to 27 advantage yesterday, 40 to 33 disadvantage on Wednesday), and just the lack of overall toughness on the defensive end, especially on the interior. In the second half yesterday, Mike Tisdale had his softest 20 minutes of the season, getting abused by Northern Colorado’s 6-8 redshirt freshman Emmanuel Addo, who went at the Illinois seven-footer with no fear or resistance at all.

As stated before during previous post-game observations, Illinois plays way too fast at times, falling into the trap of other teams trying to speed up the game. The Illini got lured into this style of play several times yesterday, with Illinois looking like it was playing pickup ball for most of the second half. Of all the Illini, Demetri McCamey is the most guilty culprit of letting the game get too fast at times. It’s one thing to push the ball when you’re setting the tempo; it’s another to push when the other team is trying to speed you up. McCamey needs to do a better job of not falling into this type of game, especially with Missouri coming up in less than two weeks.

Illinois seemed disinterested and undisciplined yesterday, as Davis alluded to. At one point in the first half, it seemed like Jereme Richmond and Northern Colorado’s Neil Kingman were more interested in going 1-on-1 against each other than playing team ball. In the second half, Richmond picked up a technical after hitting Devon Beitzel with an elbow to the head. All in all, the Illini need the week for taking finals and getting their heads focused with UIC up next at the United Center on Saturday.

Illinois is off to a great start but really hasn’t seen a top-caliber team yet. North Carolina and Gonzaga are down and Texas has dropped a bit after losing to USC. With all of this in mind, the Illini will need to tighten and pick up the play come Big Ten season, with Iowa looking a lot tougher than last season and the conference home opener against Wisconsin expected to be a nail biter. Even going back to the Gonzaga victory, Illinois was pretty uneven in the first half before a big second half. With the Big Ten looking tougher than ever, the Illini have to improve in terms of intensity and execution, especially defensively and in the post.

Here are some player observations.

● Demetri McCamey

11 points (4-7 from the field, 3-6 from three), 2 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 turnovers and 2 steals in 32 minutes

McCamey’s final numbers look good but his overall play left something to be desired yesterday, specifically in terms of running a more steady ship as opposed to a choppy one. Even when scoring 30 points against Oakland the previous game, McCamey was a bit uneven in my opinion, especially with some of his basic passes within the offense.

● D.J. Richardson

14 points (4-10 from the field, 4-9 from three, 2-3 from the line), 2 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 turnovers, 1 steal, 1 block and 1 foul in 31 minutes

Like the Oakland game, Richardson hit some timely threes for the Illini when the team needed them and seems to have found his stroke after struggling early in the season (see NYC). With that said, Richardson took 90% of his shots from three, which isn’t the balance you want to see. Richardson did do a great job guarding Beitzel, who didn’t score in the first half.

● Brandon Paul

5 points (2-8 from the field, 1-3 from three, 0-1 from the line), 2 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 turnover and 3 fouls in 23 minutes

Paul had a couple of nice moments, making a nice assist on a Davis dunk in the second half and having a 4:1 assist-to-turnover ratio, but seems to have reverted back to playing a bit too fast (see his freshman season) during the last two Illini wins after playing under much better control for most of this year. I’d like to see Paul move back to the sixth man role, with Richmond entering the starting lineup in the next two games prior to the Big Ten opener at Iowa.

● Mike Davis

12 points (6-12 from the field), 10 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 turnover, 1 block and 2 fouls in 29 minutes

Davis registered just his second double-double of the season (he has grabbed double-digit rebounds in 3 of 11 games), and it was a quiet one, although he did have a nice finish on a Paul feed in the second half and a nice hustle tap in after a miss in the first half.

● Mike Tisdale

14 points (5-11 from the field, 4-6 from the field), 7 rebounds, 1 assist, 4 turnovers, 1 steal, 2 blocks and 4 fouls in 27 minutes

Tisdale got off to a nice start before having the most disappointing second half of all the Illini. Tisdale was really soft in the final 20 minutes, getting scored upon at will by Addo, failing to get his hand up on a closeout, bringing the ball down after a post catch and tacking on some quick fouls to get in foul trouble in the second half. All in all, Tisdale wasn’t much of a physical presence as Northern Colorado outplayed and outhustled the Illini in the game’s final 20 minutes.

● Bill Cole

12 points (3-4 from the field, 2-3 from three, 4-4 from the line), 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 turnover and 1 steal in 21 minutes

Cole had a great game off the bench (where he belongs at the start of the game) and was in on a lot of hustle plays on the boards in addition to finding his three-point stroke, which hasn’t been there for the most part since the Texas game.

● Jereme Richmond

8 points (4-6 from the field), 1 rebound, 2 turnovers, 2 steals and 1 turnover in 17 minutes

Richmond played fine when he was focused, having an overall efficient shooting game, but picked up a technical for throwing an elbow at Beitzel in the second half. For the first time this season, Richmond went over the edge (he has been close at other points), and it cost him.

● Tyler Griffey

4 points (2-2 from the field), 2 rebounds, 1 turnover and 1 foul in 11 minutes

Griffey got more time with Meyers Leonard sitting out for precautionary reasons due to a shoulder injury suffered in practice. Griffey scored a quick four points in the first half, including an aggressive half hook and a one-handed slam on a nice feed from McCamey, but was quiet after that.

● Crandall Head

2 points (0-1 from the field, 0-1 from three, 2-2 from the foul line), 1 turnover and 1 foul in 7 minutes

Head played too fast yesterday and needs to slow his game down, as he did during a stellar performance against Maryland in New York City.

● Joseph Bertrand

2 points (0-1 from the field, 2-2 from the line) in 1 minute

Bertrand came in late and looked like he was chomping at the bit in terms of getting a shot off. Bertrand missed a rushed shot before getting fouled on another attempt.

● Kevin Berardini

2 points (2-2 from the line) in 1 minute

The walk-on got in late and barely hit net on two free throws in garbage time.

● Jean Selus

0 points in 1 minute

The other Illini walk-on got in late and did a good job of not taking a shot and rather running the clock out on the final possession of the game.

● Meyers Leonard

Leonard sat out the game with a shoulder injury that appears precautionary more than anything else.


Until Saturday, when the Illini play UIC at the United Center.