Illinois still looks awfully thin upfront, but the Illini feel they’re not as thin after seeing Richard Semrau play 17 emergency minutes in their 69-63 win at Vanderbilt Thursday because fellow sophomore big men Mike Tisdale and Mike Davis were in foul trouble.
Semrau missed his only shot and had one turnover, but he also had three rebounds and two steals, and the Illini would not have survived without his defense.
“Rich did a lot of things that don’t show up in the box score,” said Demetri McCamey, who led Illinois with 23 points.
Whether the frontline will hold up as the season wears on is an open question. Sophomore Bill Cole and freshman Stan Simpson apparently aren’t ready to contribute, nor is junior C.J. Jackson who’s back from his football experiment.
But Illinois will enjoy this one and worry about frontline when the time comes. And it will come in the rugged Big Ten, if not sooner.