Illini fall to Kansas 73-59, and the 2010/2011 season comes to a close
The Illini have played their last game of the 2010/2011 season, and like 67 other teams' seasons will be, it ended with a loss in the NCAA tournament. The Illini played very hard for the full forty minutes, and for about 36 minutes, they were within striking distance of a much stronger opponent.
To a large extent, the game played out like we thought it would, with the size and power advantage of the Morris twins being the difference in this game, and a big difference at that, as the two big men totaled 41 points and 25 rebounds. It was just too much for Mike Tisdale and Mike Davis, who gave great efforts but could not quite get over the hump.
Mike & Mike did get some production by stepping back and getting some separation, with Tisdale getting 13 points and 11 rebounds and Davis getting 17 points and 7 rebounds.
Demetri McCamey was dogged all night by the Kansas defense, and while he may have had some opportunities at points in this game, the shots were not falling, as he only got 6 points and 7 assists. Brandon Paul who was stellar against UNLV had a rough game with just 6 points.
At guard though, I have to tip my hat to D.J. Richardson overcoming his slump, which must have challenged his confidence, with a 15 point game off of the bench. Deej getting his groove back in these last two games is a good sign for next year, as he will be an anchor of that starting lineup.
I want to also spotlight some of the quality play I saw tonight from Tyler Griffey, who everyone has speculated will transfer, but had some great defensive effort tonight. I hope he stays, I think there is plenty of upside we might see from him next year.
It has been a long exhausting year, more exhausting even than last year, and closer in emotion to 2008, when we had a losing record. There were some great highs early in the season, and some very disappointing games down the stretch, but I have enjoyed covering this team immensely.
There has been a lot of static thrown at the departing seniors, Bill Cole, Demetri McCamey, Mike Davis and Mike Tisdale. I think they have played very well, and have in a sense played much beyond their expectations. Illinois had the No.31 ranked recruiting class in 2007, with only one top 100 player in Demetri McCamey. That class has had to be the anchor of this school for three years now. They can't control the fact that the class ahead of them and behind them more or less didn't exist at the U of I.
Recruiting has taken an upturn in recent years and there is a lot to look forward to. I have been just as frustrated as any of you, but having gotten too see so much of these players on and off the court I know that there is a lot we should be thankful for with them. In time I think we will look back on this team much more fondly than we do now.
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