Two coaches came to their current positions after stints as assistants to Wisconsin Badger’s coach Bo Ryan. Rob Jeter inherited a great team for one year, then had to rebuild a program from scratch. Howard Moore is in year two of his rebuilding program, and the Flames are looking for a positive moment to take from this season as they push forward.
That moment has yet to come.
The UIC Flames spent a decade and a half under the direction of Jimmy Collins, a coach who spent most of his career recruiting great players and three times made the NCAA Tournament. His tenure was one of success until the 2004-05 season, when his teams started going downhill. Over the final years of Collins’ career, the team was mired in academic non-qualifiers, players quitting mid-season, and a carousel of coaches coming in to try and help Collins resurrect the program.
Then, Collins surprised everyone by abruptly retiring in August 2010. The program wasn’t left with a lot of time to scramble for a replacement; they ended up bringing in Howard Moore, an assistant to Bo Ryan at Wisconsin and a coach with a high upside.
With no offseason to get ready for the 2010-11 campaign, Moore’s program struggled to a 7-24 season despite racking up victories against Rhode Island and Illinois, the latter something Jimmy Collins failed to accomplish in his head coaching career.
This season, the Flames are off to a poor start – 2-4, with victories over Roosevelt (D-II) and Evansville and a handful of losses, one to another non-D-I in Quincy. Jack Klugman celebrates in the clouds above.
The Flames are led in scoring by Daniel Barnes at 10 ppg, but Darrin Williams is a more effective scorer at 9.8 ppg in six less minutes per game.
Perhaps the most telling statistic about the Flames is 19.2, as in 19.2 turnovers per game. UIC is notorious at being unable to keep the ball in control this season, and Milwaukee’s new-found appreciation for defense?
Signs point to a good day for Milwaukee. But the Panthers need not rest. They need to get on the Flames quickly, put them down big and force them to make bad decisions to try and get themselves back in it.
Do that, and we should be celebrating come 3 p.m. today.