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Young Flames face road test in opener

Updated: December 13, 2011 9:00AM

UIC will seek its first victory against rookie coach Rob Murphy’s Eastern Michigan team Friday night, when the Flames open their 65th season on the road in Ypsilanti, Mich.

Both schools struggled last season, which was the first for Flames coach Howard Moore. The Flames, who are 0-3 against the Eagles, finished 7-24 overall, including 2-16 in the Horizon League. Eastern Michigan went 9-22 and 5-11 in the Mid-American Conference.

Predictably, Moore hopes for the best. But the odds seldom favor a team undergoing the kind of radical rebuilding UIC is.

Moore says he is happy after landing 7-foot center Matt Gorski, 6-8 power forward Jake Wiegand, both from the Fishburne Military Academy in Virginia, and 6-1 Gabriel Snider, who played for Public League power Young, during Wednesday’s college signings.

“Somewhere down the line, people will wonder how Matt could have flown so far under the radar during the recruiting process,” Moore said. “He can not only command respect in the low post, but has the ability to play comfortably on the perimeter and make plays.

“Jake has a strong frame and a tenacious nature around the basket and on the glass. Gabe represents all we look for when we get a good player from the Chicago Public League.”

Meantime, don’t expect much from this year’s Flames, which field the 16th-youngest team in the NCAA’s Division I ranks. Moore’s roster features nine new players, of whom seven are freshman.

“Obviously, our young players have an awful lot of learning to do,” Moore. “But I am excited about this team’s potential.”

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