Basketball needs ‘maturity’ for Chicago State matchup

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By Jeff LaBelle

Illinois head coach Bruce Weber calls it a stretch of “maturity games.”

After beating Hawaii 68-58 on Monday in the first of a three-game homestand, Weber and the men’s basketball team started gearing up for Chicago State (3-4) and the nation’s second-leading scorer, 5-foot-8 senior David Holston.

“We’ve got our hands full with (Holston), and their other guys are very active,” Weber said during a conference call Tuesday. “I said Saturday after the Georgia game, this is a maturity week. We got through last night with some signs of good play but not with the maturity to put the knockout punch to finish the game. That’s where we got to make some strides.”

Against teams like Georgia, Chicago State and Detroit a week from Saturday, Weber said he expects a dominating effort and the maturity to finish a team off. Chicago State (3-4) has scored 80 points or more in six games this season and more than 100 twice but are fresh off a road loss to Northern Illinois, 93-81.

“(The guys) got to learn you don’t do it with the behind the back pass or the lob,” Weber said. “You do it with solid defense and playing good basketball, slowly but surely taking the team’s spirit out.”

Illinois (8-1) beat Hawaii despite grabbing an Assembly Hall-low 14 rebounds. Weber said his team will address those rebounding issues, among other things, after Wednesday’s contest and during a 10-day break.

Weber added that Chicago State’s quickness could bother the Illini, as similar teams have given Illinois trouble early in the season. However, Trent Meacham praised the Illini’s defense effort against Hawaii.

“You know, last night we played great defense and we were really out pressuring. But they fought us on the boards more than we did,” Meacham said. “Some (rebounds) seemed to bounce their way but other times they just fought us for the boards more. They were a little bigger than us, especially on the wings.”

Dominique Keller and Chester Frazier led Illinois with 14 points apiece Monday while two of the Illini’s top three scorers failed to reach double figures. Mike Davis, the only leader of that bunch to reach double figures, finished with 10 points and led the team with four rebounds.

Demetri McCamey, who tied a career-high with 11 assists Monday, said he didn’t mind the quick turnaround – one day between games – adding he liked it “a little bit.”

“I know they have a real good scorer,” McCamey said. “The second-leading scorer in the country, so it’s going to be a tough match-up tomorrow.”