Illinois' head coach Bruce Weber during the second half of an NIT third round college basketball game in Champaign, Ill. on Wednesday, March 24, 2010. Dayton won 77-71. (AP Photo/The News-Gazette/Robert K. O'Daniell) By Robert K. O'Daniell
With the departure of last season’s senior guards and vocal leaders Trent Meacham and Chester Frazier, the challenge of leading this season’s Illini fell to Demetri McCamey.
Statistically, the junior guard did just that, averaging 15.1 points and an Illinois single-season record 7.1 assists. For his efforts, McCamey was named First-Team All-Big Ten.
But the statistics and honors weren’t enough for McCamey, who wanted to take his team to the NCAA Tournament.
“If I don’t play well, we don’t have a chance, so it’s just a lot of pressure. But at the same time, I’m looking to take over that challenge and help my team get to the NCAA,” McCamey said before the Big Ten Tournament.
Despite upsetting then-No. 13 Wisconsin and taking then-No. 5 Ohio State to double overtime in Indianapolis, the Illini failed to make the NCAA Tournament. The news that they would be playing in the NIT instead wasn’t easy to take.