At one point during a blowout victory over Northern Illinois Tuesday, Illinois lost its point guard to foul trouble and much of its lead to the Huskies' one big rally. When junior Demetri McCamey sat the bench, Illinois had trouble handling the ball. The return of Jeff Jordan should help solve that problem.
At one point during a blowout victory over Northern Illinois Tuesday, Illinois lost its point guard to foul trouble and much of its lead to the Huskies' one big rally. When junior Demetri McCamey sat the bench, Illinois had trouble handling the ball.
Freshman guard D.J. Richardson worked himself into a "brain funk,'' coach Bruce Weber said, but the Illini will get more ballhandling help with the return of junior guard Jeff Jordan against Presbyterian Saturday. After quitting the team in June and returning in October, Jordan was declared ineligible by the NCAA for two games after playing in a non-sactioned 3-on-3 tournament last summer.
"We're hoping that Jeff will help us a little bit,'' Weber said Friday. "He really pushes the ball well. The conditioning hurts him in length of time (played). On the defensive end, he doesn't have quite the stamina to go for long periods of time. We have to let him keep working at it. He's a backup to Demetri.''
Jordan will likely play in short spurts until his game conditioning improves. Meanwhile, his ballhandling and defense will help as Weber attempts to use the bench more this season. Jordan averaged 8.4 minutes per game last season, but he had 11 assists and no turnovers in the intrasquad scrimmage at Assembly Hall.
Jordan had four assists and no turnovers in 19 minutes against Quincy in the second exhibition game in his only other playing time.
"Hopefully, it gives us a little better depth,'' Weber said. "He gives us maturity. His attitude has been great. He appreciates being here. Now as he tries to earn back our trust, we'll get him involved with the team.
"If he continues to make strides, we can rotate the guards. It's a long season. A lot of things can happen, injuries and a lot of stuff.''
Meanwhile, Richardson's sprained right elbow could be pain-free by next week, Weber said, and Richardson felt his ballhandling struggles related to pain while trying to dribble. Freshman guard Joseph Bertrand will need two or three more weeks to rest a knee following complications from knee surgery. Bertrand suffered a bone bruise and continual swelling in his knee and calf, and redshirting is becoming more likely.
John Supinie can be reached at Johnsupinie@aol.com.