Maturing Flames oozing potential
FIRST LOOK: UIC preview, Horizon picks
By Mike Pankow
November 10, 2017
The 2017-18 Flames have some great pieces, but can they complete the puzzle and win the Horizon League title?
In coach Steve McClain’s third season, UIC could finally be ready.
The Flames had five victories two years ago. In Year 2 of the McClain era, UIC won 17 games, including two postseason games in the College Basketball Invitational – and most of that happened without the Flames’ best player Dikembe Dixson.
After Dixson suffered a season-ending left knee injury against DePaul in December, other players emerged. The Flames actually beat the Blue Demons as several young players began to ascend, including point guards Tarkus Ferguson, Marcus Ottey and Godwin Boahen. Dominique Matthews found his rhythm late in the season at shooting guard while Tai Odiase continued to mold himself into the Horizon League’s top defensive player and an improved offensive force.
With Dixson back healthy and a great supporting cast, the Flames open their journey back to prominence against North Carolina Center at the UIC Pavilion on Friday night.
Here’s a look at the Horizon League Preseason Poll with Whoosh!’s official vote, plus a couple of preview videos with McClain from the Chicago Basketball Luncheon last month: