Trent Meacham and the Illini host Eastern Washington in the 2008-09 season opener Friday at 8:30 p.m.
Nov. 13, 2008
Champaign, Ill. -
FIGHTING ILLINI BASKETBALL
Game #1: Illinois (16-19 in 2007-08) vs. Eastern Washington (11-19 in 2007-08)
Nov. 14, 2008 8:30 p.m. CT Champaign, Ill. Assembly Hall (16,618)
On the Air
Illini Sports Network - 44 stations: Brian Barnhart, play-by-play; Jerry Hester, expert analyst; Loren Tate pregame/halftime/ postgame interviews.
Illini Probable Starters (averages listed are from 2007-08 season) G - 32 Demetri McCamey So., 6-3, 205 8.2 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 3.3 apg G - 1 Trent Meacham r-Sr., 6-2, 195 10.1 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 2.3 apg G - 3 Chester Frazier Sr., 6-2, 195 4.9 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 3.6 apg F - 24 Mike Davis -OR- So., 6-9, 210 2.6 ppg, 1.8 rpg G - 25 Calvin Brock r-Sr., 6-5, 200 7.4 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 1.3 apg C - 54 Mike Tisdale So., 7-1, 235 3.6 ppg, 1.7 rpg
Off the Bench (averages listed are from 2007-08 season) G - 13 Jeff Jordan So., 6-1, 185 1.0 ppg, 0.5 rpg G - 15 Bubba Chisholm Jr., 5-11, 180 C - 21 Stan Simpson Fr., 6-9, 220 F - 23 Dominique Keller Jr., 6-7, 230 F - 30 Bill Cole So., 6-9, 215 2.3 ppg, 1.4 rpg G - 33 Alex Legion So., 6-5, 200 ineligible due to transfer rules F - 34 C.J. Jackson r-Jr., 6-8, 265 C - 50 Richard Semrau r-So., 6-10, 240 0.0 ppg, 0.6 rpg
Illinois Head Coach Bruce Weber
Overall Record: 231-101/.696 (11th year)
Big Ten: 53-29/.646
At Illinois: 128-47/.731 (6th year)
Vs. Eastern Washington: 0-0
Assistant Coaches: Wayne McClain (8th year), Jay Price (6th year), Jerrance Howard (2nd year)
Assistant to the Head Coach: Gary Nottingham (6th year)
Director of Basketball Operations: Sean Harrington (1st year)
Trainer: Al Martindale (26th year at Illinois)
Eastern Washington Head Coach: Kirk Earlywine
Overall Record: 32-27/.542 (3rd year)
At Eastern Washington: 11-19/.367 (2nd year)
Vs. Illinois: 0-0
Assistant Coaches: Jamie Matthews, Grant Leep, Rachi Wortham
Illini in Season Openers
Illinois opens its 104th season of men's basketball on Friday, including its 47th season at the Assembly Hall. The Fighting Illini have posted an all-time record of 90-13 (.874) in season openers and have won their last nine openers. Illinois is 88-15 (.854) in home openers, including a 38-7 (.844) record in home openers at the Assembly Hall.
Last Time Out: Exhibition Play
Illinois won a pair of exhibition games, defeating Florida Southern 82-61 on Nov. 2 and Lewis 62-56 on Nov. 9.
Trent Meacham had a game-high 17 points in the victory over Florida Southern, hitting 5-of-9 shots, including 4-of-6 from 3-point range. Mike Davis scored 11 off the bench while Calvin Brock nearly recorded a double-double, finishing with 10 points and a game-high eight rebounds.
Mike Davis led all scorers in the win over Lewis, tallying a game-high 18 points on 5-of-9 shooting. Demetri McCamey added 16 including two key 3-pointers late to lead the Illini to victory. In a game where both teams struggled from the field, the battle of the boards was the difference as the Illini outrebounded Lewis 46-34, led by Chester Frazier's game-high 10 boards.
Quick Look at the Exhibition Numbers
Over the course of Illinois' exhibition-game victories over Florida Southern and Lewis ...
Mike Davis led the Illini in scoring and field goal percentage, averaging 14.5 points on 55.6 percent shooting (10-18).
Calvin Brock was the team's top rebounder, averaging 7.5 boards.
Illinois' defense held the opposition to an average of 58.5 points on 38.7 percent shooting, including 27.5 percent from 3-point range.
Senior Trent Meacham is the Illini's leading returning scorer. Meacham was second on the team in scoring in 2007-08 (10.1 ppg) and led the Illini and ranked 11th in the Big Ten in 3-point field goal percentage (.400). He started 31 games last season, scoring in double figures 18 times, and was the UI's top scorer in eight games on the year.
Senior Chester Frazier started 29 games last season and led the Illini in minutes, averaging 33.4 mpg. He averaged 4.9 points and led the team in assists, ranking sixth in the Big Ten with 3.6 apg. Frazier is Illinois' top defender and leading returning rebounder after ranking third on the team with an average of 4.9 rebounds last season.
Sophomore Demetri McCamey came on strong last season as a true-freshman. He started 17 games and was fourth on the team in scoring with an average of 8.2 points. He led the Illini in assists during conference play (3.9 apg) and earned Big Ten All-Tournament Team honors.
In addition to the three returning starters, Illinois returns seven other letterwinners in senior Calvin Brock, junior C.J. Jackson, and sophomores Bill Cole, Mike Davis, Jeff Jordan, Richard Semrau and Mike Tisdale.
Illinois has four newcomers on the roster: Junior Dominique Keller, from Lee College in Baytown, Texas, freshman Stan Simpson from Chicago Simeon High School, sophomore Alex Legion, who transferred from Kentucky in January and is sitting out the first half of this season per NCAA rules, and junior walk-on Andrew "Bubba" Chisholm.
Illinois has played in front of 60 consecutive sellout crowds at the Assembly Hall, a streak that began on Dec. 1, 2004.
Illinois Signs Nationally Ranked Recruiting Class
Bruce Weber announced his 2009 Recruiting Class on Wednesday. The Fighting Illini signed four student-athletes in Top-50 players D.J. Richardson and Brandon Paul as well as Top-100 players Tyler Griffey and Joseph Bertrand. The class is ranked as high as No. 8 nationally by Rivals.com and checks in at No. 10 by ESPN and No. 13 by Scout.com.
Richardson, a 6-3 guard from Peoria, is enrolled at Findlay College Prep in Henderson, Nev. after previously attending Central High School. He earned second-team All-State honors last season after averaging 17.8 points and six rebounds.
Paul is a 6-3 guard from Gurnee, attending Warren Township High School. He earned first-team All-State honors as a junior after averaging 20 points and six rebounds.
Griffey is a 6-9 forward from Wildwood, Mo. and attends Lafayette High School. He was a Class 5 All-State selection after averaging 17.8 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.8 blocks last season.
Bertrand is a 6-5 guard from Sterling High School. He averaged 14.3 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.7 assists as a junior, earning second-team All-State accolades.
Recapping Last Season
Illinois became the first No. 10 seed in the history of the Big Ten Tournament to advance to the championship game with three wins in three days. The run started with a 64-63 win over Penn State on a game-winning reverse layup by Chester Frazier with 3.8 seconds left. The Illini then earned its first win over a ranked opponent on the year with a 74-67 overtime victory over No. 17 Purdue in the quarterfinals. Next, Illinois defeated Minnesota 54-50 in the semifinals to advance to the title game. The run came to an end with a loss to No. 8 Wisconsin in the championship.
Illinois ranked 19th in the nation in scoring defense last year, allowing an average of just 61.1 points on the season. The Illini also ranked 24th in field goal percentage defense, holding opponents to 39.9 percent shooting on the year.
Two areas that have been stressed in practices this fall have been free throw shooting and focusing on finishing. Illinois was last in the Big Ten in free throw percentage last year at 60.8 percent. Illinois either led or was tied at halftime in all but eight games last season. The Illini led during the second half in 10 losses and either led, were tied or trailed by one basket with less than two minutes remaining in 10 losses. Thirteen of Illinois' losses were by eight points or less.
The close games continued throughout the season. Although Illinois tied for ninth place with a conference record of 5-13 last year, the Illini were only outscored by a total of three points over the entire 18-game Big Ten schedule (-0.2 ppg).
Illinois faced one of the most difficult schedules in the country last year. The Illini had the No. 23-rated strength of schedule in the nation and played 14 games against teams ranked in the Top 50 of the RPI. Texas was the only school to play more top 50 RPI opponents.
For complete set of Illinois men's basketball game notes, click on .pdf link at top of this page.