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Three Thoughts - UIC vs. UIS

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UIC just finished off an 80-53 victory over UIS and it wasn't even really that close. The Flames struggled a bit until about four minutes remaining in the first half, but after that UIC cruised to victory over an over-matched opponent. Still, there was a lot to takeaway from the game. Here are three of the big ones, plus some player specific commentary at the end.

1. This is offense designed to get easy baskets. - It was apparent even in the first half, when UIC missed a lot of shots, that the swing offense was working. One of the best things that Howard Moore did tonight was allow his guards to post up. Robo Kreps and Zavion Neely both got to play in the post and it paid some dividends. The versatility of Kreps, Neely and Paul Carter should give the Flames the ability to give teams different looks from the swing offense. The same players can screen and go to the block, or screen and pop out. Once the shots started falling in the second half it became quite the blowout.

2. The defense played well, but needs work still, especially at the top. - While UIC held UIS to just 53 points, and only 18 points in the first half, there were some situations in which guards allowed UIS players to slip by leading to open looks. A better team would've made the Flames pay for those mistakes. Kreps, Neely and Matt Bush need to be stronger at the top and Brad Birton and Carter need to be careful when closing out. Birton closed out a little out of control a few times and Carter picked up a few fouls on slower defensive plays. They can both play better on defense. This was cleaned up a bit in the second half.

3. This is a team designed to play well even without the best talent. - One of the things I like the most about the swing offense is that it puts a team in good situations. It also uses a lot of the clock. After watching this exhibition game I think the Flames are going to pull at least one upset in the Horizon League that no one sees coming thanks to hard-nosed defense and the shots falling for a night. UIC should be especially dangerous at home. Obviously Pittsburgh is a completely different story next Wednesday, but the Flames should be in most of the games they play this season.
Player Notes:
  • Paul Carter - He struggled with foul trouble in the first half, but he came back strong in the second. He finished with 10 points and eight boards in 16 minutes of action.
  • Matt Bush - I mentioned him earlier, but he played a lot because of Carter's foul trouble. He's a long 6'4, but he got beat a bit on the perimeter. He can step up and take the three with a nice stroke. He went 2-4 from beyond the arc and scored six points.
  • Darrin Williams - The numbers don't really stand out - 4-5 from the field, eight points, one board, one steal, one turnover - but he showed shifty feet and a big body. Williams got the start in the second half after his all-around play helped ignite the Flames' run at the end of the first half. At 6'9, 282 pounds he'll be a tough match-up for some teams.
  • Robo Kreps - What a start for Kreps. He went for 14 points, on 6-11 shooting, along with six boards and six assists. It was the type of game you expect your senior leader to have on the opening night. This offense is great for him. We'll see how this whole post experiment goes.
  • Zavion Neely - Like Kreps he played 32 minutes tonight. The Flames need to get some depth behind those two. Neely did a good job penetrating when he got the free lane and gambled correctly a bit on defense. He finished with 10 points, four assists and six boards while playing the point guard spot most of the night.
One final note: 7-14 free throw shooting isn't going to get it done.

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