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Illinois-Chicago - Time For A Breather

Well, after we've all digested Pitt's closer than expected win over Rhode Island, the team gets a breather. Well, sort of. The game is still only two days after the Panthers' opener.

Sill, Illinois-Chicago shouldn't provide nearly the same test as Rhode Island did.

For starters, UIC was 8-22 last year and were 1-15 on the road - it's only victory a two-point win over Evansville. Just how much of a disparity is there between UIC and the Big East? Well, they were beaten by bottom-feeder DePaul by 21 last year.

To be honest, Pitt might have some trouble getting up for this game. But at the very least, they might be facing another team that plays aggressively on defense as Rhode Island did. UIC has a new head coach and, like Pitt, emphasizes defense:

So, senior forward Paul Carter, the crucial Minnesota transfer: What percentage of Moore’s practices are devoted to defensive drills?

"If you asked Coach, he’d probably say 100 percent," Carter said. "Even though we’re doing offensive drills, Coach is still stressing defense. It’s defense, defense, defense. That’s the backbone of our team.

"Shooting drills are still about closing out (on the shooter). Offensive drills, even though we’re running plays, you still need to be in the right position defensively or he will tell you you’re in the wrong spot and he won’t say it in his quietest voice."

That new head coach, Howard Moore, played and coached at Wisconsin. UIC already has Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan's son on staff and is also implementing their offense:

Because Moore imported Wisconsin’s swing offense and hard-nosed man-to-man defense not to mention Bo Ryan’s son, Matt, as his director of basketball operations the crash course began in the video room.

"The first week he was here, we got three DVDs of Wisconsin," said sophomore forward Anthony Kelley from Aurora Central. "Wisconsin in a single game playing against Milwaukee. Then they had a breakdown of the swing and another breakdown of the swing.

UIC does return its top two scorers from last season - guards Robo Krebs and Zavion Neely, who combined for more than 27 points per game. Still there are a lot of changes to this year's roster - seven of the twelve scholarship players are new to the team.

Bottom line is that if Pitt has trouble with this game, I'd be surprised.