Lack of Leadership a Glaring Weakness for Fighting Illini

Josh HermanCorrespondent IDecember 27, 2009

INDIANAPOLIS - MARCH 15:  Mike Davis #24 of the Illinois Fighting Illini celebrates Illinois' 54-50 win against the Minnesota Golden Gophers during their semifinal game on Day 3 of the Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament at Conseco Fieldhouse on March 15, 2008 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images


Coming off of a third-place finish in the Big Ten last season, welcoming in a top-notch recruiting class this season, and being ranked in the preseason top 25 there was much hype surrounding Illinois.

But after a few blowout wins against the Presbyterian's of the world, the Illini lost themselves in Las Vegas when they dropped back-to-back games against Utah and in-state rival Bradley.

At that Vegas Tournament Illinois started to show it's true colors.

While the talent on the team is undoubtedly good, they have failed to gel on the court and ultimately have no one that they can look to as a leader.

Demetri McCamey, by far the best player on the team this season, looks at times like he doesn't want to be the go-to guy.

And although he's proved that he can easily take over a game and score at will, he's shown way too often that he shies away from the spotlight when it's at its brightest.

Being a great mentor and leader to freshman guards Brandon Paul, D.J. Richardson, and Joseph Bertrand is key in each player's development.

But with a lack of motivation that was prevalent in his first two seasons with the team, it seems that we may never see McCamey reach his full potential.

Mike Davis is another guy who should be looked at to assume a leadership role on this team.

The undisputed offensive leader last season, the junior has been too quiet so far this season. After the loss to Bradley even he said that the team was in need of a leader.

But six games since the trip to Vegas there still seems to be a void, and Davis can be blamed for not filling it.

At times Davis seems like he gives up on games, especially if a couple of calls don't go his way. And how good does it look to the young guys when one of the best players on the team is hanging his head instead of going out and playing even harder?

So it begs the question: Who will lead this team?

Mike Tisdale seems to be too soft-spoken. Dominique Keller and Alex Legion don't get the minutes to be true leaders. And it's still too early to count on Richardson or Paul in that situation.

That leaves just McCamey and Davis, two guys with the right talent but wrong attitude for a Bruce Weber-run team.

But if just one of these two can step up, put the team on his shoulders, and carry them, with the talent that's already present, this team could be a force in an overrated Big Ten Conference.