I stayed up way too late watching the Illini take it on the chin to Texas. They just got done and lost in overtime 90-84. Dang. After tying things up at halftime, then going completely cold to start the second half, they actually made a good run at the end. But then they started the overtime just as cold as the second half and ran out of gas.
Some random thoughts...
I was impressed with Jereme Richmond. I guess I was wrong about him. I didn't think he would pan out. Not only does he appear to be a solid player, but he seemed to be the only person on the team who had any life in him. He was the one patting the other players on the back, and jumping up and down, and actually showing some enthusiasm. Those are intangibles these Illini desperately need.
Demetri McCamey continues to be a rock, but he also still seems to lack the ability to stay engaged mentally throughout a game. He could be one of the top players in the country if he would just play basketball and quit trying to think so much. He is a definite stud, and he has a great basketball IQ. He just has too many lapses throughout a game; and probably let's Coach Weber get in his head too much.
Richardson and Paul have a chance to contribute a lot this year as long as they can keep from being ruined by Weber's head games.
Mike Tisdale and Mike Davis seem to be the same as they've always been. They just don't seem to get it. They have tons of talent, but just seem a step slow and a second late. Davis has his moments, but just can't seem to stay engaged. Every year there has been another excuse - mostly health issues. I don't think that was his problem.
I was hoping Myers Leonard might take up some of the slack from Tisdale, but he seemed real hesitant. Hopefully it was just first "big game" jitters. He started out well, but pretty soon looked like just another small-school kid country kid. Again, I hope Weber doesn't ruin him.
Are you picking up on a theme here? Don't get me wrong, I like Bruce Weber. I think he is a good coach - in the x's and o's sense. But he seems to have this way of tearing down players mentally. Rather than build their confidence, he seems to make everyone question everything they do. That seems to be the biggest drawback with him. I'm tempted to say he over-coaches, and he might; but I think he just likes to control the players and he seems to play too many head games with them. I especially don't like when he does it through the media. If he could nail that down, he could be a brilliant coach. Of course, I say all that from quite a distance. In other words, I could be totally wrong. But that's how it appears to me.
At any rate, I still have high hopes for this season. I wish the Illini weren't playing one of the tougher schedules in the country, but if they can hang in there it could do wonders for them down the road.
At least that's what I think.
Peace out; and in.