Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Bright Spot

The Illini dropped another game on Tuesday against Purdue to drop to 12-7 on the season.  The good news is that at least we beat Penn State this year.  And Demitri's new tattoos have turned out really nice.  That is all. 

Realistically looking at where the Illini have fallen this year, I would still say that they are on the right track and have a reasonable shot at making the NCAAs.

In the catagory of things going well, we have Demitri McCamey.  He has been on a tear this year and really has carried the team.  Against Purdue, the Illini were so shell-shocked by the Boilermakers ball-pressure that D-mac was the only offensive threat.  Nothing was happening if Dmac wasn't creating it himself.

This can't happen for the Illini, but it was remarkable that McCamey was able to single-handedly keep the Illini in the game against a top-20 opponent. 
The season that McCamey is turning in has started to put him up with the elite guards in Illinois history.  He is averaging 15.5 ppg and 6 assists on the season accounting for 37% of Illinois scoring, and in Big Ten play Dmac has been even better - at 17.5 ppg. and 7.2 assists. 

On the whole, he is averaging more dimes than any Illini point guard of the past 20 years not named Deron Williams. Dmac's 15.5 ppg is more than any guard for this past decade, other than Frank's 16.2 in 01/02, and Luther's 15.9 in 04/05.  It's more than Dee or Deron ever averaged in a season.
And if he keeps up his Big Ten numbers, Dmac will be in for a truely great season.

The rest of the team has been much less spectacular, resulting in the 12-7 record.  What really hurts the losses to bad teams.  The Illini are 3-4 against good teams (Purdue, Zaga, Clemson, NW, MSU, Vandy, Mizzou), and 9-3 against bad teams (everyone else). Reverse those 3 games and the Illini are 15-4 and looking good in the NCAA tourney's eyes, as well as a likely top-25 ranking. 

In the past, the Illini relied on stiff defense to take care of weak opponents.  Now if the Illini have a bad offensive night, they are open to lose to anybody.  For example: Georgia, Bradley, and Utah, and very nearly Penn State and Indiana.

The Illini have 12 games left in the regular season, and need to win 8 of them to get to them to the coveted 20-win level.  To do this they need to win at PSU, at Iowa, vs Ind, and vs. Minn, then go .500 in the remainder of the games, at NW, vs MSU, at Wisky, vs OSU, at Pur, at Mich, at OSU, and vs Wisky.  I'm guessing more like 7-5 and then 2 Big Ten tourney wins gets them to 21 wins and an 8 seed.  But that's optimism talking.

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