UIC shooting for better results in second season under Yaklich
The Illinois-Chicago men's basketball team hasn't made the NCAA Tournament since 2004, and the Flames are not expected to end that trend this season.
But after opening with a 64-54 loss at Dayton Tuesday night, the Flames seem to be on the right path under second-year head coach Luke Yaklich, who honed his skills as an assistant at Texas, Michigan and Illinois State.
COVID-19 and an endless string of injuries marred Yaklich's first season on the UIC bench, and the Flames crashed and burned at the end, dropping 8 of their final 9 games.
Plenty of talent returns, and Illinois-Chicago looks to be a sleeper in the Horizon League.
Maurice Commander, guard; Michael Diggins, forward; Zion Griffin, forward.
Commander and Diggins combined to average 21 points per game last season. Griffin led UIC with 17 points vs. Dayton.
Kevin Johnson, guard (Nicholls State transfer); Jalen Warren (Florida Gulf Coat transfer).
Warren averaged 12.3 points per game for FGCU last season.
Teyvion Kirk, guard; Rob Howard, forward.
Known as a defensive guru before taking over at Illinois-Chicago, Yaklich has players like Johnson and guard Damaria Franklin to help shut down the opposition.