Sitting ailing Frazier might help Illini in long run
Illinois coach Bruce Weber wants to give Indiana his best shot when the teams meet Sunday, but he can't afford to risk losing junior point guard Chester Frazier for an extended period of time.
Thus, Frazier, the Illini's top perimeter defender, could sit when Illinois (8-8 overall, 0-3 in the Big Ten) plays at No. 10 Indiana (3:30 p.m., CBS) because of a rib injury. While Frazier catches much of the criticism for this year's Illini, Weber appreciates his tough attitude on defense and attempt serve as a leader.
"I can't lose him long term,'' Weber said. "That's what we've got to look at. It's a big game Sunday, an emotional game. They're very good, but at the same time, I can't lose him long term.''
Weber also doesn't want to overload freshman point guard Demetri McCamey, who earned his first college start in the 70-60 loss at No. 21 Wisconsin Thursday.
Frazier didn't start against Wisconsin, snapping a string of 24 straight games in the lineup. Frazier played through toe and foot pain last season, and he strained muscle or cartilage in his ribs and back in the second half against Penn State on Sunday.
"I can't make sharp movements,'' Frazier said. "Every time I move, there's a sharp pain.''
The medical staff told Weber if Frazier played against Wisconsin that he likely wouldn't be available against Indiana.
Frazier had two points on 1-for-4 shooting with seven assists and one turnover against the Badgers. McCamey, who was scheduled to start in place of junior guard Trent Meacham, started in the backcourt along with Meacham and guard Calvin Brock. With McCamey, the Illini fell behind 9-2 early before Frazier entered the game with 4 minutes gone.
"He'll play through anything,'' said Illini guard Trent Meacham. "He couldn't practice or go through the shoot around. He's a warrior. You could see once he came into the game how much our intensity rose up.''
Frazier didn't practice Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, then needed painkillers to sleep after Thursday's game.
McCamey finished with nine points, seven rebounds, four assists and four turnovers after a slow start -- he had one point, one assist and three turnovers at halftime. The bulk of Wisconsin guard Trevon Hughes' 22 points came against McCamey.
Indiana point guard Armon Bassett missed a game against Michigan Tuesday because of an ankle injury. His status for the Illinois-Indiana game wasn't known.
John Supinie can be reached at Johnsupinie@aol.com. For more coverage, read Illini Talk blog at www.sj-r.com and www.pjstar.com.