This year was as much a fight with themselves as it was with any other B1G (12) school. Hyped as a very good preseason squad, the University of Illinois Fighting Illini struggled with internal issues and consistency throughout the season. The experience of both the roster and Bruce Weber was not a telling sign of a successful season. A closer look at what exactly happened is just what is in store after the jump with help, as always, from statsheet.com.
The University of Illinois Fighting Illini
Overall Record: 20-14
Conference Record: 9-9
Final Conference Standing: 4th (tied with three others)
Home Record: 14-2
Away Record: 3-7
Neutral Court Record: 3-5
Record vs. Top 25: 2-7
Overtime Record: 0-1
Largest Winning Margin: 39 points vs. Toledo
Largest Losing Margin: 19 points vs. Ohio State
Best Win: North Carolina # 7 end of year RPI
Worst Loss: University of Illinois-Chicago # 279 end of year RPI
Illinois' non-conference schedule was a good mix up warm up games and tough seasoned competition. If not for the shocker of their season with the loss to UIC, the Illini would have had a solid beginning to the year. Taking it to North Carolina in Champaign in the Big Ten-ACC challenge gave legitimacy to this solid blue and orange squad. They also managed victories from two other tournament bound teams in Oakland and Gonzaga.
The conference schedule was a whole other beast for the Illini. They were only able to take half of their games, and lost some very close contests. They never really got their feet under them after beginning the conference schedule with three wins. Bruce Weber was not able to string together consecutive wins the rest of the season. After limping into the tournament, Illinois was able to dispatch UNLV but then, as the rest of their conference games, the Illini got pummeled by Kansas to end their season.
Team Statistics in Conference Play (Ranking)
Possessions per 40 Minutes: 64.1 (3)
Points per Possession: 1.07 (5)
Rebound Percentage: 49.6 (7)
Assist Percentage: 65.1 (3)
Turnover Percentage: 19.7 (3)
True Shooting Percentage: 56.7 (3)
Points Scored per Game: 68.5 (3)
Points Scored Against per Game: 65.5 (5)
Fouls on Michigan State per Game: 17.1 (6)
As is evident from the teams statistics, the Ilini were third best in many categories. They actually performed fairly well in most aspects of the game during the conference season. They were a very efficient offensive unit, having the most assists of any team in the conference.
The Illini struggled with offensive rebounding throughout the year, and their conference numbers showed this as well. They were among the worst offensive rebounding teams in the conference, but they were also the best defensive rebounding team. Their season was filled with strange statistical pairing like this. They fouled opponents the least of any team, but they themselves could not convert foul shots well. It was telling of their season that had so much promise, but was always held back by some factor.
Individual Statistical Leaders in Conference Games
Minutes Played per Game: Demetri McCamey, 33.44
Points per Game: Demetri McCamey, 14.65
Rebounds per Game: Mike Davis, 7.15
Assists per Game: Demetri McCamey, 6.11
Steals per Game: Brandon Paul, 1.06
Blocks per Game: Mike Tisdale, 1.59
Demetri McCamey meant a lot to his team this past season. He had been their leader for four years and saved his best work for his final effort. As close to a true point guard as you will find in the college game, Demetri's abilities will be missed dearly by his teammates. Mike Davis also performed well throughout the year, and found some of the consistancy that had eluded him for most of his time in Champaign.
A season of inconsistancy on the court by the team as a whole is what the Illini faithful had to suffer through. Many fans are excited for the departure of their two senior stars, in the hopes of addition by subtraction. The new recruiting class will fill the vacancies left by Tisdale, Davis, McCamey and surprise draft entree Richmond. Now if they can mature and come together as a team the University of Illinois basketball program should be strong for years to come.