McCamey still has a lot to learn

Erica Magda

Erica Magda

By Jason Grodsky

Demetri McCamey may be playing the best basketball of any of the Illini, but that doesn’t mean he still doesn’t have a long way to go in the learning process.

The Illinois freshman guard is averaging 16 points per game during the last five games and scored 18 second-half points in the Illini’s loss to Wisconsin on Wednesday night. But head coach Bruce Weber said his freshman needs to be more coachable.

“Demetri has got to learn to listen,” Weber said. “He’s got to be coachable. He has unbelievable talent, but his attitude has to be right. We need him to be a leader and doing everything right.”

Weber said he talked to McCamey before the game against Wisconsin and the team made the decision not to start him against the Badgers.

Get The Daily Illini in your inbox!

  • Catch the latest on University of Illinois news, sports, and more. Delivered every weekday.
  • Stay up to date on all things Illini sports. Delivered every Monday.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Thank you for subscribing!

“He has a chance to be very special and he showed that in the second half (against Wisconsin),” Weber said. “But at the same time if he doesn’t do it with the right attitude he is going to have trouble making progress. I’m going to demand perfection from him, and I know I’m not going to get it but it will help him make progress.”

After the game against the Badgers (22-4, 12-2 Big Ten), neither McCamey nor teammate Trent Meacham would specify the exact reason why he wasn’t in the starting lineup, stating that it was an issue that stays within the team.

With senior forward Brian Randle out with a sprained right shoulder that could keep him sidelined for the remainder of the season, McCamey could find his way back into the starting lineup Saturday when Illinois (11-16, 3-11) travels to Michigan to begin its final two consecutive road games of the regular season.

Weber said that freshman Mike Davis and juniors Rodney Alexander and Calvin Brock would also be seeing more minutes because of Randle’s injury, and he hopes they can step up in light of the absence of the team’s leader.

“Our focus will have to come from within and loving to play and compete,” Weber said. “There is frustration and (the coaching staff) has to help them through it.”

Michigan is one of the three teams Illinois has beaten in Big Ten play this year. With a win, the Illini have an opportunity to pull even with the Wolverines in the conference standings.

Illinois isn’t just playing for seeding in the Big Ten Tournament, it is also playing for pride and the love of the game, and as Meacham put it after the loss to Wisconsin, the team needs to keep trying to have fun as the season winds down.

“This year has been frustrating,” Meacham said. “We have pride and a love for the game and we’re still playing Big Ten basketball. If you love the game, there is no question you have to keep playing and trying to have fun.”