Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Aye Aye, Captain

Juniors Demetri McCamey and Bill Cole emerged from a difficult few days as the captains of Bruce Weber's '09-'10 Illini. And in a 77-67 win against Penn State, Illini fans saw some of what their teammates saw.

Bill Cole stepped up. He hustled and played 27 solid minutes, with 12 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocks. Cole shot 4 out of 5 from 3-point range. Bill Cole! Definitely an X-factor in this game.

Demetri McCamey led in a slightly different way, dishing out 9 assists -- 8 in the first half. He added only 6 points, but he protected the ball well. And he directed the action on the floor very well.

Other bright spots for the Illini included the play of their freshman. Tyler Griffey added energy despite that missed layup. Brandon Paul hit some clutch shots that demoralized the Nittany Lions, despite fouling out with some cheap (and in my opinion questionable) fouls. And, most notably, D.J. Richardson calmly hit 8 consecutive free throws during the never-ending last 2:30 of the game. His 20 points led the Illini.

Off the bench, Mike Davis contributed an understated 11 points and 8 rebounds -- not quite a double-double, but close. Dominique Keller had some key baskets. And Jeff Jordan played quality defense on Talor Battle, giving Richardson a break.

The Illini still need to work on playing 40 solid minutes. They need to learn to lock down on defense, to prevent those annoying runs that allow leads to disappear...

However, they needed that win to get on track. Indiana at home and Iowa on the road are manageable, if they play well. And that will have the Illini in good shape for the College GameDay visit in a week and a half...

Go Illini!

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