This is the second of five season recaps that will appear this week. There will be one each day in reverse order of current KenPom ranking.
After UIC finally escaped the Jimmy Collins era in August of 2010, Howard Moore brought a new style of basketball and promise to the Flames. Unfortunately he didn't bring the players that are necessary to play his system.
The UIC program went through some growing pains in Moore's first season as players adjusted to a new coach and he set the tone and expectations for the future.
It was a risky move with a senior lineup, but it was also probably the right one. A combination of injuries and the loss of Zavion Neely to academics ripped away some of the promise of some early season victories. While year two will probably also require some more rebuilding, there will be a lot of young talent in Chicago and the Flames appear to be a team on the rise in the Horizon League.
Season Statistical Snapshot:
- Final KenPom: 252
- KenPom Offense: 285
- KenPom Defense: 199
- Final Record: 7-24
- Conference Record: 2-16
Season Highlights: The biggest moment for UIC's season came December 18 at the United Center when the Flames upset Illinois 57-54. See the video above for some highlights from that game. The other big win for the Flames also came in non-conference play against Rhode Island 74-68.
Season Lowlights: A lost weekend in Wisconsin midway through January is probably one all the Flames want to forget. UIC lost by 12 at Milwaukee and 24 at Green Bay and people began to question the direction of the team. While there would be a few more double-digit losses, the Flames recovered to at least play competitive basketball for the rest of conference play excepting a blowout loss at Butler on February 19.
Player to Remember: Robo Kreps - Sr, G: Kreps finished his career as UIC's seventh all-time leading scorer with 1,594 points. His three-point shooting recovered this season to 36.0% compared to 29.6% a season ago. He shot 81.6% from the free throw line in his career, fifth all-time in UIC history, and was seventh all-time in steals with 146. He played in a 125 games during his career and has been a starter for the Flames for the past three seasons.
Next Year: Moore hopes that Neely gets his academics in order and returns to the court for the Flames. That'll give UIC a hard-nosed point guard with experience in the Horizon League to lean on. They'll need that experience as Moore is bringing is a recruiting class with a number of talented recruits that are going to need some time to develop. The most notable are Jerome Brown, a 6'4 shooting guard out of Morgan Park High School, and Will Simonton, a 6'11 center from Virginia. Ahman Fells, Marc Brown, Greg Travis and Robert Robinson should get a chance to make an impact on the court for the Flames as well. With so much youth it's possible UIC takes a step back, but considering how unlucky the Flames got during conference play, it's quite possible their record will actually end up being better than this season's mark.