When DePaul announced in early May that they'd be making the most of their long offseason with a 10-day trip to France beginning August 11, the Blue Demons set the bar very high for offseason media attention.
All NCAA D-I teams are allowed one overseas trip every four years – another silly NCAA rule – and the Blue Demons are allowed 10 days of practice prior to their overseas excursion.
Already Oliver Purnell and his team have been featured by all the local news channels who were given a peak into team practices in June (DePaul used four of their 10 allowed practice days in June, saving six for August). The Tribune's Shannon Ryan has a write-up and of course Lindsey Willhite provided exhaustive coverage.
You just don't see college basketball getting that kind of attention in early summer in Chicago.
So how have the other four D-I programs in the Windy City counteracted the media's DePaul blitz?
The UIC athletic department, in its continuing efforts to re-invigorate interest in their program and turn around its culture, have begun a series of 'Knowing the Newcomers' interviews, posted on their website. The series will eventually highlight all of Howard Moore's inaugural recruiting class over seven weeks of interviews.
These ingenious and well-received tidbits allow fans a rare offseason glimpse into the all-new squad on the near west side. Freshman 6-4 guard Jerome Brown, formerly of Morgan Park, was the first subject. One of the best-known shooters in Illinois had some strong words for the future of UIC basketball.
We want to change the perception, and the way that people view UIC basketball. We want everyone to know that we are here to make a difference this year; not four years from now. I'm sure a lot of people think this is going to be a re-building year for us coming up, but we're trying to get this thing turned around right now. With hard work and the type of guys we have on this team, I definitely think we can do it.
Former Simeon forward and incoming freshman Ahman Fells, in his interview didn't mince words either.
It's personal with this group; we want to change the culture and get UIC back to the NCAA Tournament.
I hope for UIC and Howard Moore's sake that these guys are as genuinely motivated and committed as they seem. So far so good, UIC.
In addition to finally updating their behind-the-times athletic website with an all-new face, Loyola has pushed (or maybe he did it on his own) Porter Moser into the twitter spotlight with the rest of his staff, where's he saying some very smart things. He also threw out the first pitch at a Cubs game. Howard Moore nor Tracy Dildy ever did that.
Looks like business as usual over at Northwestern, despite what could be a game-changing season for the Wildcats' program, however there is a new video up of the team partaking in a "unique" training program. The attention they get this season may well outweigh the rest of the Chicago teams anyway, if all goes as planned.