Minute with the high school mentor of McCamey, Turner

Illini junior guard Demetri McCamey faced his old teammate from St. Joseph High School, Evan Turner, on Sunday afternoon at the Assembly Hall. Turner won the battle, as he led Ohio State to a 72-53 victory against Illinois. The Daily Illini had the chance to catch up with the former tandem’s high school coach, Gene Pingatore, at halftime Sunday.

Daily Illini: How has McCamey’s season shaped up so far in your eyes?

Pingatore: I think it’s going well. He’s matured. He’s assumed responsibility, that’s what (Bruce) Weber wanted him to do, and as a result he’s stepped up his game. Unfortunately tonight, he’s not shooting well. He’s doing everything else. He has six assists at the half. If he can shoot well in the second half and penetrate, he’s going to bring them back.

DI: How has he changed the most since his freshman year at Illinois?

Pingatore: I think that maturity thing. The wrap on Demetri since he’s been here is inconsistency. But I felt that as he matures and accepts responsibility, that’s changing, and you’re going to see a more consistent Demetri the rest of the way out.

DI: Do you still keep in touch with McCamey?

Pingatore: His brother (DeAndre) plays for me, so we’re still very close.

DI: How does his brother compare?

Pingatore: His brother doesn’t have the athleticism and the size Demetri has, but he has a great mind for the game. It’s not unusual for his brother to call him and say, ‘Hey Demetri, you’ve got to do this, you’ve got to do that.’ That happens.

DI: What about Turner? What are you seeing from him so far this afternoon?

Pingatore: He’s distributing the ball and playing a very good floor game. He’s boarding, but he’s not shooting well. I’m wondering if the pressure of the game for both of them is getting to them.

DI: Is this the first time you’ve seen McCamey face Turner in person in the Big Ten?

Pingatore: Two years ago we were here at this game, and I enjoyed it more because I think there was no pressure on the magnitude of the game. Now, they’re both in first place. I think that’s a factor. They both have pressure because they’re in first place and they’ve got to win.

DI: Three years ago, did you ever expect either of them to be two of the top players in the Big Ten?

Pingatore: No, not at all. I knew they were going to do well, but it’s been mind boggling.