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Let the blame game commence in Illinois

Feb 15, 2011, 8:01 AM EDT

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As Illinois continues its late-season fade, things are getting tense in Champaign. (Stop me if you’ve heard this before.)

Illinois coach Bruce Weber says that the recent performance by Demetri McCamey – the team’s most important player – has been affected by people not on the team. From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

“It’s college basketball,” Weber said. “There are a lot of influences whether it’s uncles, cousins, grandpas, ministers, preachers, relatives, neighbors. They all have something to say. And there’s also the factor of other outside people.

“There’s so much clutter in kids’ brains. Instead of just coming here and listening and being coachable, it all takes a toll and maybe adds up in the long haul.”

Weber paused and said: “I shouldn’t have said ministers and preachers, but I’ve had that before, too.”

McCamey’s lackluster Purdue game (4 points, 2 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 turnovers, 1 for 10 from the floor) no doubt irked Weber, but the coach says it wasn’t just that. He lauded McCamey for his work on his jumper and other skills, but stopped doing that extra work once people started telling him he was thriving.

McCamey’s in a shooting slump and has hit double figures twice in the last six games. But this Illini team isn’t so dependent upon McCamey that everything falls on his shoulders. Center Mike Tisdale’s been a non-factor. Same with Jereme Richmond. Mike Davis and Brandon Paul have had moments, but been inconsistent.

If Illinois finishes 9-9 in the Big Ten, that should be enough to reach the Big Dance and most of this will fall by the wayside. If not, Weber’s probably going to regret he ever brought it up.

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