Barnes, Williams set to lead UIC

By Lindsey Woods

The University of Illinois at Chicago Flames outplayed the Lake Forest College Foresters in their final exhibition game of the season on Nov. 8.

Returning players Daniel Barnes, guard, and center Darrin Williams combined for 27 points in UIC’s definitive 57-33 win over the Division III Foresters.

“It was a good win, but we’re never satisfied,” Barnes said. “We’re always striving to be better.”

After an angry locker room lecture from coach Howard Moore, the Flames were able to turn around a slow first half, forcing turnovers and capitalizing on rebounds in their own paint.

“Our guys responded to their angry coach at halftime,” Moore said. “The only reason I was angry was because we weren’t aggressive, we weren’t running our offensive crisp and we weren’t getting to the loose balls or the rebounds first.”

Barnes’ defensive rebound 30 seconds into the second half spurred a 10-point run for the Flames, starting with a pretty layup by Williams. The streak gave UIC a 17-point lead, from which the Foresters never recovered.

Williams led the team in rebounds and points, shooting 70 percent with 14 points and nine rebounds. In the offseason, Williams lost 35 pounds at the prompting of Moore.

“Coach Moore talked about it last year and told me how much better of a player I could be if I lost weight,” Williams said. “It just clicked that this is my last season, and it was about time to make the change.”

While Williams was in the gym during the summer, the UIC recruiting staff was hard at work, recruiting several Chicago Public Schools players and continuing to build a team of relatively new players. Five of last year’s players returned for the 2011–2012 season, including Barnes, guard Matt Bush, forward Paris Carter, center Dorian Tyler, and Williams, who all averaged less than five points a game last season.

“The new players are coming along, some a little quicker than others, but as a group, they’re really starting to pick up what we’re trying to emphasize,” Moore said.

The team also has three new recruits for the 2012–2013 season, including 7-foot Matt Gorski, 6-foot-8-inch Jake Wiegand and 6-foot-1-inch Gabriel Snider.

After a disappointing 7-24 season last year, the team is hoping to hone its signature aggressive defense and to follow up with more big wins like last season’s 57-54 upset against No. 12-ranked University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

“I don’t want to say we got complacent, but it was a high that month and then other teams just came at us harder,” Barnes said. “This year, we’re going to step up.”

The Flames lost their first game of the season against at Central Michigan 68-57 on Nov. 11. The Flames haven’t won a road home game since their 2007-2008 season, when they defeated Central Michigan.