By Joe Henricksen

Could UIC use a little Moore?

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By Joe Henricksen

With the announcement of Jimmy Collins stepping down as head coach at UIC, there was a buzz circulating throughout the college coaching ranks. While Collins stepping down was sudden to outsiders and the timing of it all certainly befuddling to all, those in the business knew it was coming.

The buzz has been growing for months. This past spring the college coaching underworld heard and believed the UIC job would be opening by June 1. Then the date shifted and became July 1. It didn't happen. But now it's open and coaches are scurrying to have their names put in play for the head job -- and even the assistant jobs once the boss is hired.

That may come as a surprise to the average college basketball fan (Come on ... UIC? Illinois-Chicago?). But believe it or not, the UIC job is coveted by both head coaches in college basketball and especially by up-and-coming assistant coaches, particularly throughout the Midwest. This is a job that is talked about among college assistants as being one where one of those up-and-coming coaches can have success. It's not a dead-end coaching job, which so many jobs are.

In fact, in a Hoops Report survey of college coaches last summer (both assistants and head coaches were asked), UIC fared quite well in the "Best Division I basketball coaching jobs in Illinois." I have had numerous conversations over the past few years with both current head coaches and assistant coaches regarding the upside of the UIC job and all that it offers.

So why is UIC basketball so coveted and highly thought of? First, you can win there. It's been done before with three NCAA Tournament appearances in the last 12 years that have been quickly forgotten. Collins went 22-6 in his second year on the job. He put together three straight 20-plus win seasons starting in 2001-2002.

Then there is the obvious: the surplus of prep talent right in UIC's back yard. The right coach can recruit in a big way, keep them home and fill a roster with talent. And you better believe the bounce-back prospect who leaves the state for bigger and better things out of high school will transfer back if UIC has the right coach in place. And UIC plays in a league, that if you can just climb the Butler Mountain, is winnable.

Who knows where UIC will go financially when it comes to hiring the next staff, especially in the current economic climate. But the previous staff was known to be well compensated. If the numbers stay anywhere near where they were, the new head coach will be able to attract a top-notch assistant coach or two to help fill out the staff.

Now the important part: hiring the perfect fit. That perfect fit is critical and, in the Hoops Report's eyes, is clear. UIC needs a young, energetic coach who is fully capable of pumping life back into a program that desperately needs it. We're talking a program that is on life support in terms of current success (just 8-22 a year ago overall and 3-15 in the Horizon League) and talent level within the program. This young coach with energy must absolutely have strong recruiting ties to the city and suburbs. In addition, UIC needs a presence and someone who can bring stability and credibility.

While there are number of very solid candidates with Chicago recruiting ties and varying degrees of backgrounds and experience who should and will be considered, UIC could do wonders with one of two candidates: Wisconsin assistant coach Howard Moore and Illinois assistant coach Jerrance Howard.

Howard has been a hot commodity as an assistant coach under Bruce Weber, with heavy overtures from both Kentucky and Louisville earlier this summer. That speaks volumes about his work ethic, reputation and recruiting abilities -- key ingredients UIC desperately needs. There is no question Howard would get players. The bubbly and enthusiastic Howard would bring instant cred and recognition with the kids in the city as the coach who has been a fixture in their gym the last few years. He has established himself unbelievably well in recruiting the Chicago area in a relatively short period of time.

The question for UIC will be is he too young? Does he have enough coaching experience as he enters his fourth year as an assistant in Champaign? While the recruiting fortunes have flourished of late at Illinois and the immediate future is awfully bright, the program hasn't exactly been winning big.

As green as he may be, Howard is not one you can discount. As quickly as he possibly could, Howard made his presence felt with hard work. He gained the respect of those he needed to gain respect with and has the much-needed ties and connections already built. And he has played, worked and coached for some outstanding coaches, including Bill Self and Bruce Weber.

The Hoops Report's endorsement, though, goes to Moore, who is ready and makes complete sense. He should be -- and just may be -- the guy to beat and the ideal fit. He is a native of Chicago who played at Taft High School and is a Chicago Public League Hall of Famer. Ask anyone in the coaching business and around Chicago basketball and they will tell you Moore is as classy, professional and well respected as they come. The Hoops Report will tell you firsthand he is all that and more (pardon the pun). The sharp and articulate Moore, who has the ability to connect with people of all ages and backgrounds, has an aura of sincerity about him that hits home with both prospects and their parents. With basketball people throughout the Chicago area, the veteran assistant has prep basketball history and old stories to draw on in conversation.

Having grown up and played in Chicago and recruiting the city and suburbs for the last 10-plus years as a college assistant coach, Moore's ties to the area are an obvious advantage in any college coaching job he takes. He just completed his sixth year at Wisconsin under highly-successful Bo Ryan, where the Badgers have averaged 26 wins a season in the last four years. There aren't many better coaches to learn under than Ryan. You better believe Moore, who has been the guy to recruit the state of Illinois for the Badgers, has soaked up a whole lot during his time in Madison under Ryan.

During his time in Madison he's become a household name in recruiting the Chicago area. Moore was instrumental in landing both Ben Brust of Mundelein and Duje Dukan of Deerfield this past season, while securing the commitments of Brooks point guard George Marshall out of the Chicago Public League and Benet Academy big man Frank Kaminsky in the Class of 2011.

Moore also has mid-major coaching experience, which is another plus, and understands the basketball climate at the mid-major level and the type of talent you need to find to win at that level. He has spent time in the Missouri Valley (Bradley 2000-2003), the Mid-American Conference (Ball State in 2003-2004) and in the Horizon League (Loyola in 2004-2005) prior to heading to Wisconsin.

Your move, UIC. It's an important hire for a program that offers a lot more than people realize. The right coach can bring it all out. And expect both Wisconsin assistant Howard Moore and Illinois assistant Jerrance Howard to be right at the top of UIC's search, with both assistants ready to jump at the chance to re-charge the Flames basketball program. At this point, however, UIC could definitely use a little Moore sooner than later.

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35 Comments

WOW!!!! If UIC can get Moore as a head coach then they will be up there with Butler every year. I love everything about Howard but he just does not have head coaching experiance as does Moore. I would say a crazy wish in Howard being Moore's top assitant at UIC but there is no reason for him to leave Illinois. Unless, he would not care about being a head coach and want to help UIC become the next mid-major that makes runs to the Final Four (for many year to come). They both will not even have to leave the Chicago area to do so either which is why I believe your article is soo great. I know getting both is probably unreal but what are the chances that UIC could land either Howard or Moore?

I doubt that Jerrance Howard will be a candidate for a couple of reasons. First, he just signed a new contract with Illinois. But, more importantly, UIC is part of the University of Illinois family. It is doubtful that the UI AD would sign off on having its sister school take Jerrance. Jerrance is too important to the UI team's current recruiting efforts for that to happen. I think UIC has a much better shot at Howard Moore or Tracy Webster.

hey joe what about tracy webster??

Great piece of insight Joe! My concern as a UIC fan (yes there are some out there!) is the current roster. Does an awful roster void of talent scare away potential coaches in your mind? Thanks! And great job.

I just wanted to say this blog has been the place to go for me to get actual thoughts and insight on all things basketball recruiting in high school and college. Thanks for the great work. This is a good job as you pointed out.

Great article....both candidates sound like they are ready to make the next step!

Joe you hit a home run right here! You are absolutely correct that Howard Moore fits like a hand in a glove with this UIC job. After reading this its clear all that he has to offer.

Tracy Webster? Come on! Bouncing around too much without much to show for it.

Is Jerrance Howard seasoned enough? He would be the youngest coach in Division 1 by far wouldn't he? I have no doubt he could get players. He would need a veteran X and O guy with him or two to help him in the early going.

This blog is spot on in regard to Howard Moore. I have gotten to know him just a little and he is what this blog says: a total class act. I wish the best for him and great job of pointing out the qualities of this bright assistant coach.

So Joe you are saying, based on what you wrote, Howard Moore is the best candidate this job in your opinion?

I agree with you that UIC is a good job if the right coach is in place. Howard Moore sounds like an ideal fit.

First and foremost, UIC needs a coach....someone that can come in and teach Xs and Os, someone that can make in-game adjustments, someone that can motivate his players. Without that, we have Jimmy Collins II...a supposed great recruiter that ties for 1 regular season conference title in his time at UIC and achieves not a single postseason win. Can Moore and Howard coach? Moore's under Bo Ryan, but so was Rob Jeter, a coach that in 6 years, has not won anything with his own players (the first year w/ Bruce Pearl's players doesn't count). UIC cannot wait 6 years for success. If these guys can't coach, strike them off the list...I'm not interested...and Jim Schmidt shouldn't be either. Dildy was a great recruiter too, and he brought hardly anybody of value to UIC....he also didn't bring wins to UIC. What I'm saying is that even though someone is connected to the CPL and has a reputation as a recruiter, success isn't guaranteed. JC and Dildy both couldn't bring results. Give me a coach that knows how to play the game, not streetball (which is what UIC currently plays), and hire an assistant that can recruit. When the wins come, so will the recruits.

UIC also desperately needs someone with personality, a much younger person that JC....someone that wants to get himself out into the public, out with the fans, and help grow the fanbase....UIC's support is abysmal, and we need someone actively working on attendance.

Dear UIC Fan: I too follow the Flames because they are a city school and I pull for them. I also have family/relatives in the college coaching business and you can't compare the most recent UIC staff with anyone who is even being mentioned. UIC basically took the last three years off recruiting for whatever reason. There is no talent. And the reason is no one there worked. The staff became a joke and laughinstock. Your Jeter mention is correct and should be considered. A lot of your descriptions of what you want are what guys like Howard Moore and Jerrance Howard (I am sure there others) would bring. Just don't think what we have experienced at UIC of late is normal. It was sad how they didn't work to bring in kids. Just look at that roster.

Joe: Was wondering if you had a thought as to if either Jerrance Howard or Howard Moore would leave their current positions to go to UIC? Thanks. Great work and keep it up because this is entertaining reading.

Of course an assistant coach would be interested in the UIC job. Listen, it's not the Big Ten, Big 12, Big East, etc. But the Horizon League is a league that has surely surpassed the MAC and the UIC job is a solid job. Think about it in comparison to other jobs just in that league. Come on! Any college assistant coach trying to get a head job and move up would be crazy to not take this job.

Okay:

As you guys know I have to say what I'm thinking. Hmmmm.
Why would Dildy take the tough CSU position which many feel is a dead-end job if it was known that Jimmy was out? Did UIC not want him, or will he now go back and seek that much more coveted and rewarding position? I expect they will hire someone with head coaching experience unless there's a phenom out there. The guy at SIU comes to mind. If they decide to go with a young and upcoming coach I like Howard, and I also like Parham from ISU. Whoever is hired, the assistants wil be key to building something great. UIC could easily be another Butler with the right individuals at the helm.

TC,

Unfortunately, all I know about UIC basketball is what I've seen since Jimmy Collins was hired...massive underachievement (one conference title in 14 years, 0 postseason wins, horrendous Horizon League record), loss of scholarships due to low APR scores, internal fighting and suspensions, players transferring and failing out, etc. To me, that is normal. And that is what UIC will get again if they hire just a great recruiter with ties to the CPL. The problem is, no matter who is at UIC, the best CPL players will always go to the power schools. UIC will be left to choose from the scraps, and half the time, they just can't cut it academically, leaving us with players failing out and transferring and major holes in our roster. Look at the past 3 years alone...at how many people left. That's why the roster looks the way it does...Eppinger, Poston, Isom-Jones, Jeffers, Baptist, Gray, Tori Boyd, the list goes on and on. We simply need to hire a strategist that knows how to gameplan and win. We've tried the "recruit the CPL" experiment....it hasn't worked for 14 years. I hope Jim Schmidt knows better than to repeat that mistake again. There's plenty of talk about this at uicflames.proboards.com

By the way, great article Joe...it's nice to see someone giving UIC some detailed coverage. Keep it coming.

Joe, over the past 4 years, I have had the opportunity to meet and get to know all of the people that you've named as possible replacements for Coach Collins. Honestly speaking, they all would be solid choices and would be well received in the state (in particular...the city). Howard Moore is a person who stands out at this time because he has worked at a number of levels that would allow to navigate through the situation that is in existence now and eventually bring UIC up to par with the other mid-majors who are now national names in the game (Gonzaga, Butler, Northern Iowa). UIC has an impressive campus with a solid academic reputation, above average facilities for the hoops program, and they play in a conference that is formidable. I can see Howard taking the Flames to the upper-tier of the Horizon and battling Butler year in and year out. With Tracy Webster not coaching right now and being a former teammate of Howard's at UW-Madison...maybe Howard will hire him as a top assistant and then they'll definitely lock up the mid-major talent in the area. Who knows?

Regardless if Moore or Howard are not up there in the sense of X's and O's, they have the power to bring in Chicago area kids that would be high-major D1 (bottom of the Big 10, Big East etc.) type of recruits to start off. That is all you can ask for to compete at a mid-major right away for conference and a tourney bid. Over time though, the X's and O's will for sure come along, they will be a yearly NCAA tourney team and with that can come the consistant four(our of 5) star recruits. We are talking about a mid-major unlike the Big East and Depaul. Joe, do you agree about getting a guy that can bring in talented recruits first or a coach with OK recruiting skills but great with X's and O's?

Joe: Thank you first for even putting UIC basketball in the limelight. Appreciate the attention you have thrown the Flames way. But wanted to ask what pitfalls or bad parts of the job would detract from it? What might scare people away from this job? Thanks!

Everyone is saying the same thing now about Howard, Moore, Webster, etc., as they did with Jimmy and Dildy back when they were coming on board. "They're stud recruiters...they'll get the Chicago talent...the Xs/Os aren't as important or they'll come along". As one of UIC's closest followers, I will tell you that they didn't get the Chicago talent (minus the Banks/Bailey class) and the best of the Chicago talent we did get (Jeffers, Poston, Elliott Poole, etc.) didn't/couldn't stuck around long enough to help. The marginal talent we had may have been able to compete a little more if we had decent coaching, but we didn't. So, no talent + no coaching = the mess that UIC is in right now. You guys can talk about Chicago recruiting all you want. I'm not saying we don't need good recruiting...it's incredibly important....and we do need to recruit the city. I just feel that we need to hire someone that knows how to win games on the court. My opinion that UIC needs to value strategy first, recruiting second, stands.

UIC Fan makes valid points. But I think that's why Howard Moore would be a good fit as he has worked in a system at Wisconsin that has worked. I'm not saying he will bring that same system to UIC but he has the background under a highly successful coach. He just also so happens to have ties to Chicago and is a native. But like someone else said, we can't talk about JC and Dildy and that staff. They literally shut things down for whatever reason on the recruiting front. I have heard they didn't work at all, that uic staff, for the last few years. And it shows.

Was wondering Joe if you have heard any other names like current head coaches or with head coaching experience that may be interested or UIC is interested in. Thanks to for highlighting UIC basketball.

u stated he is a great recryiter of chicago area.so what players did he recruit who had good college careers?

JOB WELL DONE COACH COLLINS!
NOW YOU CAN ENJOY THE CONCERTS IN COUNTRY CLUB HILLS, DO SOME TRAVELING WITH YOUR FAMILY!
NO MORE RECRUITING TRIPS, NO MORE ROAD TRIPS, PRACTICE, GAME PLANNING, COACH YOU HAVE MY UTMOST RESPECT!
FORMER NBA PLAYER, OUTSTANDING COLLEGE PLAYER, ASSISTANT COACH, HEAD COACH, THANKS FOR HELPING THE YOUTH OF AMERICA, NOW WE NEED OTHERS TO DO WHAT YOU HAVE DONE AND THE WORLD WILL CONTINUE TO BE A BETTER PLACE!
THANKS AGAIN COACH COLLINS!

Man, looks like you were right on the money and ahead of the curve with your Jerrance Howard and Howard Moore thoughts and forecast at UIC. Kudos to you as it looks like those two are right at the top of the UIC search. Keep us updated Joe as stuff materializes!

Any thoughts if Gene Cross will get a look? I don't know exactly what surrounded his departure at Toledo (thought I haven't heard "good" things about that).

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This page contains a single entry by Joe Henricksen published on July 20, 2010 9:33 PM.

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