2010-2011 ITH Season Preview: Illinois Fighting Illini

  • 11/09/2010 4:13 pm in

INDIANAPOLIS - MARCH 13: Head coach Bruce Weber of the Illinois Fighting Illini calls a play during their game against the Ohio State Buckeyes in the semifinals of the Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament at Conseco Fieldhouse on March 13, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)It’s time for Inside the Hall’s team-by-team breakdown of the Big Ten Conference. Today: The Illinois Fighting Illini.

First thing that sticks out about Brucey’s boys?

They’re a team with strong seniors and talented underclassmen — a recipe for success.

Point guard Demetri McCamey returns for his senior season, and though his leadership has been questioned at times, his size and physicality make him an elite player in the Big Ten. The frontcourt also returns seniors Mike Davis (6-9) and Mike Tisdale (7-1) — both threats for a double-double on any given night.

Guards D.J. Richardson and Brandon Paul enter their sophomore seasons and should only get better. And then there’s freshman sensation Jereme Richmond — who did things like this in high school. Richmond is a big, athletic wing at 6-8, meaning he should give them tons of flexibility on both sides of the ball.

ESPN’s Chad Ford wrote yesterday that NBA scouts will be keeping an eye on both McCamey and Richmond this season.

These kids can play.

As I noted in our Ohio State preview, the Illini and Buckeyes pose the biggest threat to the Spartans atop the league’s scrap heap, but McCamey’s experience at the point might give Illinois a slight advantage over an Ohio State squad that’s looking for a new ballhandler this season.

Bottom line: While this team — which is ranked No. 13 in the AP poll to start the season — promises to be quite strong, there is one lingering black mark: No one on the roster has experienced an NCAA Tournament victory yet.

So while this team could certainly find its way into the Sweet Sixteen (or beyond) come March, there’s no precedent for tournament success so far.

It may not matter when push comes to shove. But it’s something to keep note of as this team piles up victories during their 2010-11 campaign.


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