College basketball is AWFUL in all of Illinois, yet again

depaul blue demon

What a shame. What a crying shame that Chicago, which every year has some of the best preps talent in the country, has zero going for it on the college level. Unless the Illinois Fighting Illini can somehow go 6-3 down stretch (and they face some brutal opponents so this highly unlikely) what Land of Lincoln team will get into the big dance? An improved UIC team that is 9-2 at home and 5-5 on conference could very possibly win the Horizon League Tournament, the only way they get their ticket punched. So maybe zero teams in the NCAAs this year, just like last year, just like four years ago. Juxtapose that with Indiana in 2000, when the Crossroads of America got seven teams in the big dance.

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Former Purdue guard Kelsey Barlow lands at UIC

uic

UIC announced the addition of former Purdue guard Kelsey Barlow, who transferred to UIC to complete his final season of eligibility.  Barlow will sit out the 2012-13 campaign due to NCAA transfer regulations, and have one year of eligibility remaining, which will be satisfied during the 2013-14 season.

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There’s Deron Williams (Illini, Nets) and Now Darrin Williams (UIC)

With the start of the NBA season locked out, and the very real threat of losing many more games to the labor crisis, we haven’t had a chance to talk about New Jersey Nets point guard Deron Williams.

But we can talk Darrin Williams, the UIC Center named to the Horizon League preseason all-conference third team. And like Deron Williams, Darrin Williams has had a big impact on University of Illinois, as well as Chicago, college basketball. And Darrin often gets mistaken for Deron. If you google Darrin’s name, the search engine will ask if you meant to spell “Deron.”

You’ll also see many photos of the former University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign point guard in the results page when you do a Google image search for the University of Illinois at Chicago big man.

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Rough First Year at UIC for Howard Moore as Flames Continue Rebuilding

uic

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

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Butler Bulldogs a Good Role Model for UIC Flames

butler bulldogs

For a solid blueprint to success, the team playing at the campus colloquially known as “Circle” can look to their “Circle City” conference brethren.

“Butler has a program that we’re aspiring to be, not that we’re trying to be Butler,” said UIC first year Head Coach Howard Moore, who previously worked as an assistant under Bo Ryan at Wisconsin.

“We’re aspiring for that kind of success, where your players come out expecting to win and expecting to get results whether at home or on the road. They’re very impressive, they know who they are, and they play to that.”

Moore has many reasons to complement his Horizon League rival. Brad Stevens has won the league all three years that he’s led the small private school in Indianapolis. This year, they’ll finish third or fourth, but look to be in decent shape for a NCAA at-large bid

By Paul M. Banks

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Butler Bulldogs 79, UIC Flames 52: Rapid Reaction

butler blue

If you read a lot of March Madness bracket projections (as college hoops nerds such as I often do) you might have noticed the Butler Bulldogs beginning the day as one of the last college basketball teams into the field of 68.

So with a road trip to UIC and a home game against Loyola waiting to finish up the conference slate, it was imperative the Bulldogs win big over Chicago’s two Horizon League teams. The first part of the mission was accomplished as Butler crushed UIC 79-52.

UIC led this game for most of the first half, but around 6:30 mark, Butler took over, never looked back and grabbed a 40-27 lead into halftime. They did what they had to in order to keep improving their RPI, winning big.

Because of the opponents’ winning percentage component of the RPI, it was essential that they beat UIC, a team that now stands at 7-15, 2-15 in conference by a very large margin.

By Paul M. Banks

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Illini Struggle, Get Beat By Sister School UIC- Seriously!

uic

This was not college basketball at it’s finest. Not by a long shot. The Illinois Fighting Illini, playing in their second home, the near west side’s United Center struggled with their sister school, the UIC Flames all day.

Despite the presence of two local teams, the crowd was small. The UC looked 40-60% empty all day, but perhaps that because basketball fans are saving themselves for the NBA headliner, instead of this college hoops matinee. Coincidentally, the Chicago Bulls opponent in that game will be the Los Angeles Clippers and Eric Gordon, the one and done Indiana Hoosiers two-guard who is considered one of the biggest enemies of Illini nation.

But today, the Illini hand their hands full with a program who who celebrated the big upset win like they had just won the Final Four.

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