Last summer Jimmy Collins stepped down as college basketball coach at UIC. Collins spent 14 seasons as the Flames’ head coach and guided UIC to the first three NCAA tournament berths in school history. He is the all-time winningest coach in school history with 218 victories from 1996-2010.
Current Athletic Director Jim Schmidt, who’s been with the university for 25 years, found his replacement in Howard Moore, a high profile college basketball assistant under Bo Ryan with the Wisconsin Badgers. His Flames have just one regular season game remaining, and then the Horizon League Tournament. It’s been a rough year to say the least, as their record stands at 7-22, 2-15 in conference.
Senior Day at the UIC Pavilion was tough, as Butler blew out the Flames by almost 30.
“This one’s going to stick with me for awhile, it’s all I got to say about that. It definitely hurts right now,” said senior Robo Kreps, the teams leading scorer, following the game. The Flames will lose him, as well as Minnesota Golden Gophers transfer Paul Carter to graduation.
By Paul M. Banks
“the seasons always go by fast, all of a sudden we’re at the last home game. You feel bad for the seniors, there’s a little sadness because they’re leaving, but then all of a sudden you got the newness of a new program coming and I really think we’re pointed in the right direction, we’ll start getting some of our own players in who fit our system a little better,” said first year assistant coach Al Biancalana.
Very true- once the Flames get more players within their system, they will truly improve. And they don’t need to look any further than their HL brethren, the Butler Bulldogs, to find a good blueprint for success.
Biancalana previously served as an assistant at Bradley, during their 2006 NCAA Sweet Sixteen run. He recruited and coached future NBA players Danny Granger and Patrick O’ Bryant, and also has head coaching experience at three suburban high schools (Amos Alonzo Stagg, Downer’s Grove North, York).
The Flames went dancing in 2004, 2002 and 1998, and appeared in the NIT tournament in 2003. They have yet to advance in tournament play. However, their three tourney appearance puts them ahead of Northwestern and the program has had three players get drafted by the NBA. There are hopes within the program that they can return to the mid-2000s “glory days” of all-time leading scorer Cedric Banks and Martell Bailey.
“We signed five really good players and look to sign a couple more in the spring, and we like what’s coming back next year,” Biancalana said.
One major factor that will help UIC get there is their location; within one of the nation’s biggest hoops hotbeds.
“There’s a ton of kids that would like to stay home, Chicago is a world class city, this is a world class university, there’s so many pluses here, and we’re going to be able to attract quality athletes here,” said Biancalana.
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