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Flames tabbed ninth in preseason poll

OPTIMISM HIGH DESPITE EXPERTS’ EXPECTATIONS

November 9, 2009

Steve Woltmann/UIC Athletics

Senior forward Jeremy Buttell (right) has faith in the Flames.

A retooled UIC Flames squad plays its lone exhibition contest on Tuesday night at the UIC Pavilion, hoping to plant doubt in the minds of the experts that placed them ninth in the Horizon League preseason poll.

Senior forward Jeremy Buttell and junior guard Robo Kreps are the key veterans ushering in a season that begins with 11 newcomers on the roster.

Tuesday’s contest against Lewis will provide UIC a chance to see where it is as the regular season approaches later this week. Newcomers such as junior center K.C. Robbins, junior forward Brad Birton and freshman guard Anthony Kelley will have ample opportunity to see playing time. Questions about the point guard position should also begin to find answers as coach Jimmy Collins will explore his options.

The contest will tip off between 7:30 and 8 p.m., about 20-30 minutes after the conclusion of the women’s basketball exhibition against St. Xavier.

Lewis, a Division II school in Romeoville, has played Notre Dame and Bradley tough in other exhibition games. UIC beat the Flyers 80-57 in a regular-season game last season en route to a 7-2 start.

As for the low expectations placed on the Flames from the college basketball world, Buttell responded recently.

“That’s fine with me, because preseason rankings don’t matter at the end of the season,” Buttell said. “Last year we were up near the top. This year we’re near the bottom. I hope some teams take that into account when they play us and they don’t expect a lot out of us, because we’re going to end up beating their butts.”

In the poll, Butler was a near unanimous choice to win the Horizon League, garnering 43 of the 46 first-place votes. Wright State was placed second followed by last season’s Horizon League tournament champion Cleveland State.

For the first time since the 2005 poll, no Flames player was picked for either the first-team or second-team All-Horizon. Last season, Josh Mayo was the Horizon League preseason player of the year.

A complete rundown of the league poll with Whoosh!’s votes are below:

2009-10 HORIZON LEAGUE PREDICTED FINISH
HL POLL WHOOSH!
1. 1.
2. 2.
3. 3.
4. 4.
5. 5.
6. 6.
7. 7.
8. 8.
9. 9.
10. 10.

FIRST-TEAM ALL-HORIZON
HORIZON LEAGUE POLL WHOOSH!
Matt Howard, Butler* Gordon Hayward, Butler*
Gordon Hayward, Butler Matt Howard, Butler
Norris Cole, Cleveland State Vaughn Duggins, Wright State
Todd Brown, Wright State Shelvin Mack, Butler
Vaughn Duggins, Wright State Todd Brown, Wright State

SECOND-TEAM ALL-HORIZON
HORIZON LEAGUE POLL WHOOSH!
Rahmon Fletcher, Green Bay Norris Cole, Cleveland State
Shelvin Mack, Butler Robo Kreps, UIC
Tone Boyle, Milwaukee Xavier Keeling, Detroit
Troy Cotton, Green Bay Rahmon Fletcher, Green Bay
James Eayrs, Milwaukee Brandon McPherson, Valparaiso

Whoosh!’s others considered: Thomas Kennedy, Detroit; Troy Cotton, Green Bay, Tone Boyle, Milwaukee, James Eayrs, Milwaukee.

*-Preseason Player of the Year vote

In other recent news:
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)
HORIZON AWARDS: Mayo, VanderMeer honored (3/2/09)