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It’s not easy being green

INEXPERIENCED FLAMES HUMBLED BY LEWIS

November 11, 2009

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Freshman center Louis Green (left) had 10 points and eight rebounds against Lewis while subbing for junior K.C. Robbins (right).

UIC’s colors Tuesday night were two shades of green.

The good news: Freshman center Louis Green tallied 10 points and eight rebounds in a team-high 27 minutes and, perhaps, surpassed many people’s expectations.

Now, the bad news: Most of the rest of the Flames struggled mightily, looking pretty green along the way in an ugly 65-55 exhibition loss to Lewis at the UIC Pavilion. (This definition of green, according to dictionary.com, means “immature in age or judgment; untrained; inexperienced.”)

Even the veterans had a difficult time against the Division II Flyers as junior guard Robo Kreps and senior forward Jeremy Buttell combined for just four points on 1-for-15 shooting.

Green, however, entered the lineup just four minutes into game due to two early fouls by starter K.C. Robbins. The 6-foot-9-inch, 240-pound St. Joseph graduate showed some determination on the inside, hitting 4 of his 6 shot attempts, making both of his free throws and blocking two shots.

“Louis is a young guy that really, really tries,” UIC coach Jimmy Collins said. “I really appreciated his effort. This game requires effort. You can’t go off reputation.”

The Flames struggled to find rhythm all night, shooting just 31 percent in the first half and 36 percent for the game. The lack of an experienced point guard because of the suspension to Spencer Stewart was evident. Toughness was also lacking as Lewis won the battle of the boards 44-33.

“We’ve got a lot of things to work on, obviously,” Collins said. “Division I, Division II, that didn’t mean anything. What meant something was effort and we just didn’t show enough.”

Justin Jarosz scored 21 points and Dennis Thomas Jr. added 15 points to lead the Flyers, which had previously lost competitive games against Notre Dame and Bradley. Matt Toth added 12 points and Marty Strus grabbed 13 rebounds.

“There’s a lot of positives we can take from this game,” Lewis coach Scott Trost said. “Some of our guys think they should be at a Division I school. Our guys looked at it as an opportunity.”

After falling behind 22-8 less than nine minutes into the contest, UIC finally showed fire to close the opening half.

Senior Kris Harris and sophomore reserve Zavion Neely each scored five points as part of a 16-2 run. Harris capped the spurt with a three-pointer with 1:24 remaining in the half, forging a 24-24 tie. Lewis grabbed the lead on a Strus layup 7.9 seconds before the break.

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Sophomore Zavion Neely sparked a mini-rally late in the first half for UIC. He finished with nine points.

“From the bench, I saw that we needed to make something happen,” Neely said. “I wanted to come in and bring some energy to get the team going.”

Unfortunately, the second half started much like the first and it progressively got worse for the Flames. After a Harris putback made the score 29-28, Lewis scored 11 straight points, capped by a Thomas three-pointer.

UIC got no closer than eight and trailed by double digits for the final 12:18.

The Flyers led by as many as 19 and the Flames never led. UIC needed to score the game’s last seven points just to pull within 10.

Green was the only UIC player to reach double figures while Harris and Neely posted nine points apiece.

“We were depending on some people to play better and they just didn’t,” Collins said. “We’ve got to work on the character of this team. We’ve got to find out who is going to exhibit some character.”

BIG MAN, FOUL TROUBLE: Robbins picked up two fouls in the first 3:50 of the game and sat out the rest of the first half.

“K.C. got those early fouls, because he didn’t move his feet,” Collins said. “Hopefully, he’ll get better at it, because he has that big. He didn’t show what he was capable of showing.”

The 6-11, 270-pound Robbins finally returned with 11:47 remaining in the second half and finished with three points and one rebound in eight minutes.

FLAMES FLICKERS: Senior guard Chris Buchanan scored seven points off the bench and made the best hustle play of the night, making a leaping save of ball going out of bounds late in the first half. …

Sophomore forward Jelani Poston is currently ineligible, but he said that will should be back “soon” when approached after the game. …

Junior swingman Mylin Northern was declared ineligible because he did not satisfy requirements while in junior college. He will sit out the season to focus on regaining eligibility. …

Also not dressing were junior guard Matt Bush (knee), sophomore guard Austin Hood (flu), freshman guard Erin Pryor and sophomore forward Ryan Sligh. …

Freshman guard Arthur Wiley racked up a team-high four assists in the second half after not playing in the first half. Another freshman Anthony Kelley looked good, hitting two threes in 19 minutes. …

Collins went with the starting lineup of Buttell and Brad Birton at forward, Kreps and Harris at guard and Robbins at center. …

All 13 Flames who dressed played in the game. Juniors Jimmy Harding (three points) and Dipanjot Singh (two points) entered the scoring column in the second half. …

The loss was UIC’s first in exhibition play since a 74-73 setback against St. Joseph’s (Ind.) on Nov. 9, 2005.

In other recent news:
Flames tabbed ninth in preseason (plus HL/Whoosh! vote) (11/9/09)
Collins turns to Robbins in the post (plus departures, schedule) (10/6/09)
SUMMER UPDATE: Marquee names on non-conference schedule (7/8/09)
HORIZON TOURNEY: Flames cooked under pressure (vs. Cleveland St.) (3/9/09)
HORIZON TOURNEY: Flames find a little 'Epp' in their step (at YSU) (3/4/09)