Illinois Coach Weber spent a significant amount of time during his postgame press conference discussing Demetri McCamey and Mike Davis. McCamey came off the bench to provide an energy boost, pushing the ball, looking for open teammates, and playing tough defense. And Mike Davis enjoyed his best day as an Illini. But according to Weber, both need to work harder every day in practice to be their best.
"We had to get after Demetri today during shootaround. You've got to come every day to get better and not go through the motions because you pick up bad habits. I expect him to pay attention and be ready so when the game comes, you're in the right position.
"Good teams are focused and trying to improve. They pick up good habits. He's not the only one. Mike Davis sometimes floats also. How you do every day in practice predicates how you do in the game."
Weber wants his men to work so hard they have to ask for a substitution.
"Even Demetri asked out. That's a MAJOR improvement. It means he is going that hard that he has to take himself out. That's positive."
Weber also challenges Davis to play hard every moment, especially defensively and on the little things like setting screens and blocking out his man. And he wants him to remember his teammates.
"Both Davis and (Mike) Tisdale have to screen early and then get into the post, not just get into the post. Unless it's a fast break and you ran hard. But in the half court offense, they've got to be a little more patient."
Mike Davis' unusual recruitment was rehashed also.
"In the spring (2007), Tracy Webster got his name. He had been out to D. C. a little bit and knew somebody. It didn't look like he was going to make grades but was going to prep school.
"And that's how we were recruiting him at first. If he goes to prep school, maybe we could get involved with him. He just kind of stayed in touch, and then he made his grades late.
"The first period of the summer circuit, I went and watched him several times. I thought he played pretty well. We called him and offered him a scholarship. A bunch of other people got involved also. It was mostly long distance.
"For some reason, his dad felt comfortable with us. Second period ended in August, and it was prep school or us because he didn't have a lot of time. They made the visit and made the decision. His dad had the right thing in mind. He's a pretty intelligent guy and played basketball, and he thought maturity wise prep school might still be the best thing. I guess we're fortunate they allowed him to come."
Weber's involvement with Mike Davis' dad has been a refreshing change for him. Davis and his father want Weber to work him hard to get the best out of him.
"Last year we had some parent issues. I got a call from his dad, and I said, 'Oh, not again.' His dad said, 'Why do you play him?' I say, 'What did you say, Mr. Davis?' He said, 'Why do you play him? I watch him. He doesn't play hard, he doesn't box out, even Billy Packer brought him up on TV.'
"I told him I hoped he gets better with playing time. It was a refreshing call. Here's a dad saying get his butt in gear if he won't play hard. That's helpful as a coach when you've got a parent backing you up. So I felt pretty good about him."
And after Sunday's game, Weber must feel even better about both Davis and McCamey. Now, if they can play with intensity every game, Illinois might just surprise some people this year.