With the college basketball season starting Friday, The Catch and Shoot is taking a look at the best- and worst-case scenarios for Chicago’s team. As you may have guessed, this series of posts tries to evaluate each team’s highest peak as well as their lowest low.
Here is a look at UIC’s best-case and worst-case scenario:
UIC takes coach Howard Moore’s recommitment to defense seriously, and it completely turns back around the Flames program.
Senior guard Marc Brown continues his development as a scorer and averages 15+ points per game.
The additions of junior college transfers D’Juan Miller and Paris Burns give the Flames the peskiest and most athletic backcourt in the Horizon League behind Green Bay.
Wagner transfer Jay Harris gives the Flames a lethal shooter, and junior Gabe Snider and sophomore Markese McGuire enhance the Flames’ perimeter threat. Redshirt freshman Lance Whitaker recovers from a torn ACL and is a Horizon League Freshman of the Year contender.
Freshman forward Tai Odiase is also a Freshman of the Year candidate after leading the Horizon League in blocks per game. Junior forward Jake Wiegand flirts with a double-double and averages 12 points and 8 rebounds, giving Moore his best frontcourt at UIC.
The Flames finish as high as No. 3 in the Horizon League behind Green Bay and Cleveland State. Last season was a fluke, and Moore wins 20 games, making UIC the first Chicago area team to reach that mark since Northwestern in the 2010-11 season.
UIC upsets Cleveland State in the conference semifinals, but this time Green Bay remains injury-free in the tournament and is too talented to defeat in the championship.
Last season repeats itself. The Flames get hit with some untimely injuries, but ultimately even a healthy team would finish last in the Horizon League. UIC finishes with the worst defense in the conference, and the offense is not much better.
The sub-6-foot backcourt of Jay Parker, Miller and Burns gets smothered, even by teams with just average-sized backcourts. Brown fails to take his offensive game to the next level.
Wiegand’s development halts, and he struggles to score on anything but putbacks and easy layups. Odiase shows the makings of a bright future, but he is too raw as a freshman to contribute in any significant way. Jason McClellan never fully recovers from hi preseason injury, and the Flames have the weakest front line in the conference.
After being suspended for the first three games for a violation of team rules, Harris and Whitaker commit another violation. Harris’ one-year career as a Flame is finished, and Whitaker’s future with the program is in jeopardy.
Moore won 18 games two seasons ago, but after a pair of six-win seasons, the athletic department considers going in a different direction.