If you care about UIC basketball

If you care about UIC basketball

Posted by Lindsey on Wed, 07/21/2010 - 21:45
A reader wondered about Jimmy Collins' health in a comment on Tuesday's blog. I initially planned a response on the same blog, but it ballooned into something bigger that deserves its own post. Here goes: Health is not a direct issue with Collins leaving at this time. I think there has been a sense of dissatisfaction all around. Jimmy takes losing hard and doesn't enjoy it when some players don't seem to care as much as he does. It's also not as much fun as you get older, you keep flying east for family funerals and your own health history hasn't been perfect. Athletic directors, meanwhile, see other Horizon League schools moving up in the world and want to be a part of that train. Butler is a household name. Wright State's excellence just allow its coach to advance to Clemson. Cleveland State, with former Rutgers coach Gary Waters at the controls, won a game in the 2009 NCAA tournament. UIC hasn't been to the Tournament since 2004 and seems at least a few years away from contending again. As for Tracy Dildy, he thought he would get to be Jimmy's successor but plans changed. Tracy brought in several recruits during his time at his alma mater, but some of the better ones (including Jelani Poston) didn't pan out. It's always risky when your No. 1 recruiting ground is the CPL. With other Horizon schools doing well with veteran coaches (see Waters above), I'm guessing AD Jim Schmidt will interview some fellas similar to him. At the same time, there are several assistants at nearby high-major schools with extensive Chicago ties who could build something more stable. Frankly, I think Tracy Webster would be perfect for this job. I saw former Oregon coach Ernie Kent's name bandied about somewhere on the internet, but I wonder if that would be a fit. NIU thought ex-Colorado coach Ricardo Patton was the right answer, but that hasn't worked out at all. Then again, Kent has Chicago connections and Patton did not when he signed on with the Huskies. Finally, consider this as well when trying to figure out why Coach Collins leaves now: In the last four classes, UIC has signed 21 scholarship athletes. TEN were junior-college players. Another was Minnesota transfer Paul Carter, a special case who's immediately eligible for his senior year. One of the jucos never appeared in a Flames uniform. Another lasted one year. Two freshmen teamed up to play one semester before leaving the program. One incoming freshman apparently won't qualify. Tori Boyd, a highly touted flyer who came in the Class of 2007 with Robo Kreps, played a lot for two years and suddenly quit prior to last season. Long story short, that's not the way to build continuity in a program. This makes an AD dissatisfied. Then, too, it was hard for Jimmy to recruit freshmen because they sensed he wouldn't be around for their entire careers. This dissatisfies everyone. It's a vicious circle. LW
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