Moore, Flames relying on Kreps
It's nearly impossible to find anyone who doesn't believe new UIC coach Howard Moore has what it takes to turn around the Flames' basketball fortunes.
Moore is a Public League graduate who excelled as an assistant coach at Bradley and Wisconsin.
He's well-spoken and well-liked.
But he can't do it alone. Those sunny forecasts for the future can turn bleak if UIC doesn't immediately improve on its 8-22 record last season.
That's where senior guard Robo Kreps comes in.
Moore will lean on Kreps to be the bridge who takes the Flames from the old regime into a bright future.
''It's huge having a guy like that who knows the landscape of the league and what it's all about,'' Moore said. ''He can tell the rest of the team how they have to compete every night. His dad was a coach. Robo brings a lot to the table in this transition.''
Kreps led UIC in scoring (15.2 points) and minutes (35.7) as a junior last season.
''I've decided to play him at the point,'' Moore said. ''He has to lead by example and through his play. He's accepted that responsibility, and he's running the show.''
Moore got a close look at his future point guard last December when the Flames played at Wisconsin. Kreps scored 13 points in a 79-43 loss.
''He was the focus of our scouting report last year,'' Moore said. ''We knew at the time that he was a catch-and-shoot guy. When he tried to put it on the floor, we wanted to disrupt him.''
When Moore got the job at UIC, he told Kreps what the scouting report was on him.
''I told him what everyone said: If you cut off Robo Kreps, the rest of the team dies,'' Moore said. ''I've tried to help him understand he has to be more than a catch- and-shoot guy, more than just a shooter.''
Kreps hasn't only changed his position -- he has changed his body.
The 6-1 senior said he has added 20 pounds since last season. He's listed at 200.
''Everything is totally different this season,'' Kreps said. ''I'm ready to play a lot more point guard. I wanted to bulk up so I could be more effective in the post against guards.''
Paul Carter, a 6-8 transfer from Minnesota, functions as a ''voice from the big-time'' for the Flames. Carter has played in a major conference and the NCAA tournament, so he has some credibility that few Horizon League players possess.
''Robo can play,'' Carter said. ''He could get minutes at any program in the country.''
Kreps, Carter and the new swing offense will get plenty of exposure thanks to a new television deal with Comcast SportsNet.
The Flames will play eight games on CSN and will be featured on the Big Ten Network when they face Illinois at the United Center on Dec. 18.
''It's a great situation for us,'' Moore said. ''That's another recruiting tool we can use. The commitment by our administration to making this succeed is something that's encouraging.''