The games have begun!

Congratulations to Northwestern and Chicago State. Both get to enjoy the fruits of an unblemished record for a few another day (in the Cougars case) or so. Now if the Wildcats could just managed to keep players healthy.

For Loyola while the box score from the game against Kansas State reveals some dissapointing trends, there are things to work on and the Wildcats are the toughest non-conference game the Ramblers will face all season.

I was unable to attend any of the game last night, but here are some thoughts as I look through the box scores, also there's a preview of UIC's season opener against NCAA Division II University of Illinois at Springfield after the jump.

Kansas State 92, Loyola (Ill.) 54
The simple fact is 25 percent shooting isn't going to get it done on offense on any night this season. A team can't shoot such a low percentage and win basketball games. Taken in isolation one game against a major conference opponent in which the Ramblers shoot poorly might not be too disturbing, but it appears that Jim Whitesell's offense doesn't work without a specific type of player. Loyola has ranked below 300 in effective field goal percentage each of the past two seasons. If the Ramblers want to improve they can't keep giving so many shots to gunners like Terrance Hill (2-10 last night). One big positive from last night is the fact that Loyola out-rebounded the Wildcats 46-39. The return of Andy Polka is a big boost as he went for 12 rebounds and 3 assists. The home opener against Canisius on Tuesday will tell us much more about Loyola than this contest did.

Chicago State 81, Concordia University Chicago 61
Never fear the faced paced Chicago State Cougars are back again. Chicago State racked up 75 possessions in their game against Concordia which eventually helped them prevail by 20. Don't let the final score fool you though, this game was just three points at halftime. Carl Montgomery had a nice start to the season with 22 points and 17 rebounds. Christian Wall had 18 points as he takes over from David Holston in the backcourt and Hajji Martin scored 10 points. Chicago State will get a real test on Sunday when they travel to Ames, IA to take on Craig Brackins and Iowa State. Montgomery vs. Brackins should be a great match-up.

Northwestern 77, Northern Illinois 55
The box score looks like a great example of a team that knew its opponent's weakness and took advantage of it. Northwestern, which never shot free throws last season, attempted 48 free throws in this game and converted on 34 of them. That's 44 percent of the Wildcats total points right there. It's a good thing they were scoring from the free throw line, because Northwestern was cold from beyond the arc. 5-21 from three-point range isn't going to cut it as the opponents get more difficult. The pace of this game was much faster than your typical Northwestern game, but I'm attributing that to Northern Illinois' typically fast style of play. My other worry from this game? The foul trouble Drew Crawford got into once again and Kyle Rowley's three fouls in 13 minutes. Northwestern can't afford to give away depth with foul trouble. That said, double-figure points from John Shurna (11), Luka Mirkovic (15), Michael Thompson (12) and Jeremy Nash (20!) is a great way for Northwestern to win basketball games.

On the Kevin Coble front this quote is both discouraging and encouraging: From Skip Mylenski - If surgery is required, it's four months of recovery before
rehabilitation begins. In that case, he said, "I'd just come back next
year."

Northwestern returns to action on Wednesday when the Wildcats take on Butler.

University of Illinois Springfield at UIC:
Where: UIC Pavilion, Chicago, Ill.
When: 3 p.m. CT
Records: UIS 0-0, UIC 0-0
Summary: UIS is in the same conference and even the same division of the Division II team (Lewis) that UIC lost to in their exhibition contest. The Prairie Stars aren't the same caliber basketball team as the Flyers. UIS was picked last in the North division of the Great Lakes Valley Conference. This is a game that should help UIC get off to a good start and allow Jimmy Collins to continue to play with his rotation.
Three Keys for UIC: Rebound, Hustle (show some character), Get Louis Green involved early

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