Weber: Illini not putting in effort

Illinois coach Bruce Weber put some of Demetri McCamey's recent struggles on his senior guard, but he placed much more of the blame on all of the people who have been in McCamey's ear.

"It's disappointing, some of it is Demetri, obviously," Weber said Friday on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. "But the outside influences, just kill kids, I'm just telling you. I feel bad. He was playing so well, and all of a sudden, the runners, the agents, the third-party people, they're all telling him he's an all-American and this and that.

"Then, he stopped coming in to work hard and spend extra time on his shot and all the stuff you need to do. Here, I'm saying give a five-month commitment, put more time in, and they're telling him how great he is. It just screws up kids. It's not just me. If you talk to our the football coaches, you can talk to other coaches in the Big Ten, it's one of the worst things we have to deal with in college basketball is the outside influences, the third parties, the agents, the runners, whatever. It's that honestly."

McCamey was among the top players in the country until late January. Before Illinois played Ohio State on Jan. 22, McCamey had been averaging 16.2 points and 7.2 assists and shooting 52.5 percent from 3-point range through 19 games.

In McCamey's last five games, he's averaged 9.7 points and 4.2 assists and shot 8 of 25 on 3s for 32 percent. Illinois lost three of those games.

Weber understands the situation is difficult for McCamey to handle.

"He's a kid," Weber said. "If you're a kid, would you rather hear Coach Weber say 'come in and work harder' or 'you're great?'"

Weber has similar complaints about his team's overall work ethic. Once Illinois began climbing the rankings and being discussed more as a NCAA tournament contender, the Illini began putting in less of the effort that got them there.

"I don't think we've played hard enough," Weber said. "We have some talent, we have some skilled people, but I'm not sure they realize how hard you have to play every game. I thought we learned some of that from last year. We came back, we had an edge at the start of the season.

"I think once we had success too many outside influences [started] talking to kids. [It] makes such a difference. Instead of worrying about the team and the effort, they're more worried about themselves and what they're getting, their numbers and all that stuff, and it caught up with [us]. It's just disappointing. We should be somewhere ... I don't know we're 16-8 [now], probably 19-5 at worst and right on the verge on being a top 10 team, but we're not now.

"The lack of toughness, the lack of leadership and understanding how hard you have to play every game, it's probably the difference of us being a possibly top-10 team and being where we are -- fighting for our lives."

Scott Powers covers high school and college sports for ESPNChicago.com and can be reached at spowers@espnchicago.com.