University of Illinois Fighting Illini Basketball 2010-11
2010-11 Illini Will Be Contenders in a Very Tough Big Ten
It is Veterans Day as I begin to write about the 2010-11 University of Illinois Fighting Illini basketball team. The Illini competed in two games defeating University of California-Irvine by the score of 79-65 and University of Toledo 84-45, to start the season 2-0. The Fighting Illini's next basketball game will be Saturday, November 13, versus Southern Illinois University in Champaign. The last time these teams met back in 2001, Bruce Weber was the head coach at SIU. The Salukis are currently coached by Chris Lowery, who is a graduate of SIU and former assistant coach for Bruce Weber at SIU and Illinois.
This year's Fighting Illini basketball team is a mix of four seniors and eight sophomores and freshman. The leader of the Senior class is guard Demetri McCamey. McCamey is without question one of the most talented basketball players in the Big Ten Conference. But, McCamey has been frustrating for Illini fans because he will play great in big games and not so great in games versus lesser opponents. If McCamey is hot with his shooting, the Illini usually win. If McCamey is off his game, so are the Illini. Going into the SIU game, McCamey is 23rd all-time on the Illini scoring list.
Senior Mike Tisdale from nearby Riverton, IL, is the tallest player on the Fighting Illini basketball team at 7 foot 1 inches. Tisdale has bulked up over the last four years. I remember when he was tall scrawny player in high school. He certainly is not looking that way now. Tisdale is a very good outside touch for a big man. Tisdale is a hardworker inside to score the close baskets. Tisdale is a solid defensive player for the Illini.
Senior Mike Davis is 6-9 forward from Alexandria, Virginia. Davis is a great rebounder and defender with a soft shooting touch. Davis was a 3rd team all Big Ten Conference player last year. He was second in the conference in rebounding last season. Expect him to continue this for the Illini this season.
Bill Cole is 6-9 senior forward from Peoria, Illinois. Cole saw limited action in his freshman year due to an injury and has worked himself into the starting lineup over the last two seasons. Cole will not contribute with alot of points but will with some good defensive play. He fits the Bruce Weber type of player that is defensive minded.
The Illini Sophomores are led by D.J. Richardson, Brandon Paul, and Tyler Griffey. Richardson was the Big Ten Freshman of the Year last year. Richardson was fourth in scoring average and 8th in the Big Ten for 3 point field goal percentage. Richardson is a good ball handler and posseses a great shooters touch. If Richardson hits a stride with his shooting, look out.
Brandon Paul is a 6-4 guard from Gurnee, Illinois. Paul played in all games last season. Paul is a good defensive player with a good shooting touch. He scored 22 points in his Illini debut last season, a record for a freshman player. Paul and Richardson are very good players who have a promising future. Their play reminds Illini fans of Dee Brown, Deron Williams, and Luther Head.
Tyler Griffey is a 6-8 forward from Wildwood, Missouri. Griffey will crash the boards, score a few points, play some solid defense. His minutes grew toward the end of last season and we should see the trend continue into this season.
Redshirt Freshman Joseph Bertrand is 6-5 guard from Sterling, Illinois. Bertrand redshirted last season due to injury. Bertrand looked good in the game against Toledo. He played 17 minutes and score 5 points. He will be fighting for minutes with talented freshman class.
The Illini have three very talented true freshman this season. The class of Jereme Richmond, Crandall Head, and Myers Leonard ranked in the top 15 nationally. Richmond is a 6-7 swingman who can play both small forward and both guard position. Richmond was the 2010 Mr. Basketball of Illinois leading Waukegan High School. Richmond was on member of the McDonald's All American team. Richmond is very talented and will see plenty of minutes this season. He is super talented and he will be impact player for the Illini the next few seasons.
Meyers Leonard gives the Illini two seven footers on the roster at the same time in the history of the basketball program. Leonard is a 7 foot freshman from Robinson, Illinois. Leonard will provide an inside presence for the Illini. He too has a promising future in an Illini uniform.
Crandall Head rounds the talented freshman class. Head is the younger brother of former Illini guard Luther Head. Crandall Head is 6-4 guard that will impress the fans. He did not play in the game against Toledo. He was on Bruce Weber's recruiting radar for a few years.
The roster is rounded out by 6-0 redshirt freshman guard Kevin Bernardini of Lake Forest, Illinois. Bernardini is already a fan favorite of the "Orange Krush". It is likely he will see limited minutes this season.
The Illini are a mix of veterans and talented youngsters. They will certain face a challenge in a very tough and competitive Big Ten Conference. Michigan State, Purdue, Wisconsin, and Ohio State are highly ranked going into the season. Personally, I see the Illini finishing as high as second place but likely they will be middle of the pack from 4th to 6th place. The Illini should make the NCAA tournament this year. It is very possible for the Illini to make the Sweet 16.
The future looks bright for the Illini as Bruce Weber has secured some top flight recruits. According Rivals.com, the Illini's 2011 recruiting class was ranked #9 nationally. The class includes Tracy Abrams, Nnanna Egwu, Mycheal Henry and Mike Shaw, all from the Chicago area. Illini fans, we could be seeing some exciting times over the next few years at Assembly Hall.
For more information about the University of Illinois Fighting Illini basketball, please visit www.fightingillini.com. Other good sites include www.illinihq.com, www.bigtennetwork.com, and www.illinoisloyalty.com.