February 9, 2010

McCamey's game will test UW defense

MADISON - Wisconsin has been spoiled this season with fine play from a couple of physically strong point guards in Trevon Hughes and Jordan Taylor.

There is no question the upper body girth both players exert on a nightly bases presents an advantage against smaller guards or ones with less physical presence or nature. For the most part this season, the Badger guards have been bullying defenders around the perimeter, in the post or on the dribble drive.

But inside the Kohl Center tonight, the UW guards may meet their match.

When Illinois guard Demetri McCamey runs the show it's like watching a senior in high school drive on a timid freshman. He just overpowers people and if he's not overpowering people, he's dropping a triple through the net with his sweet looking stroke.

But his strength is what makes him one of the Big Ten's most formidable guards.

"I don't think there is any doubt," UW assistant coach Gary Close replied when asked if McCamey was one of the strongest guards in the league. "He's just really strong with the ball. I mean he takes that thing in there and he just doesn't lose it. It helps him posting up and it helps him guarding people. That is one of his strengths. He's playing really well.

"He's a big reason why they're hot right now."

Anchoring an Illinois team that is seemingly hitting its stride while playing itself back into conference contention, McCamey accounts for nearly half of the Illini's offense either with his individual scoring or knack for finding the open player.

"He's playing under control," Close said. "He's shooting over 40 percent from three, he's finding people, he's a leader in the league in assists, he can score taking it to the hoop, he can shoot three's and he's very strong. He's playing really well."

If you disagree with that sentiment from coach Close, just talk to Michigan State. In Illinois' last win over the Spartans Saturday night, McCamey willed his team to victory with 22 points on 8-of-12 shooting (6-of-9 from distance) and dished 11 helpers.

During Illinois' current four-game winning streak, McCamey has averaged 15.5 points, nearly nine assists and 3.25 rebounds per game. He has done all of that while committing just less than three turnovers per contest.

His 3.18 assist-to-turnover ratio over that time is nothing short of impressive as well.

He has proven to be both a clutch player at the end of games (game-winning shot at the buzzer to beat Indiana) and throughout the entire contest (22 points and 11 assists against MSU).

"He's been able to do whatever he wants a lot of times," UW senior guard Jason Bohannon said. "For us, it's going to be key to be able to contain him and make him play within their offense a little more."

In last year's loss at Assembly Hall in Champaign, McCamey dropped 25 points and dished seven assists as the Illini handed the Badgers their fourth straight loss at the time.

However, inside the Kohl Center later that season, McCamey struggled to score 12 points and committed four turnovers. He can be stopped, UW just has to force him out of the things he likes to do.

But with the way he's playing, that seems easier said than done.

"I think he accounts for almost half of their offense in terms of scoring and getting people open and finding people," Close said. "There is not a guard in the league that is playing any better right now."

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