Next up for the Devils is the University of Illinois-Chicago, which seems
like an easy task until you consider a couple of things: first, they came very
close to knocking off a senior-laden Georgia Tech team a few weeks ago, and
second, they are coached by Jimmy Collins. Collins used to work for Lou
Henson when he coached the Illini and was a candidate for the head position, but
didn't get it. He was a tremendous recruiter for Henson, and while taking the
job at Illinois-Chicago might have seemed like a step down at the time, he's
done a tremendous job there and is probably about ready to move up if he decides
that's a good move. Don't take these guys lightly, folks. Most people will
forget that Jimmy Collins has already won in Cameron, when he was an assistant
As mentioned, they almost beat Georgia Tech in November, losing by one point,
60-69. They also gave a solid Bowling Green team a good game before losing
63-51. And they lost to Wisconsin-Milwaukee, but those hyphenated schools in
America's Dairyland always seem to be tough as nails.
They've beaten South Dakota State Illinois State (once a great program under
Bob Donewald and then Bob Bender) and UNC-Wilmington.
They start four Chicagoans and a guy from Serbia and Montenegro, 6-9 Jovan
Stevanov, who is listed in some places at 6-6. The forwards are 6-7; the
guards are 6-2 and 6-1 respectively. They have almost no size on the bench, so
look for Duke to try to ram it down their throats.
If Stevanov is like most European players, he won't be chained to the basket,
and that could present problems for Duke defensively.
Their best player is Cedric Banks, 6-2, who has a habit of having huge
halves: he scored 21 against UNC-W, including 18 from behind the line. Can
you say explosive?
6-4 Armond Williams, who should be considered a starter though he will likely
come off the bench, sat out part of the year to concentrate on academics, but
he's had a solid career at UIC, and like Banks, is a senior.
So far this season, the Flames have not shot well. They're sputtering
at .391 from the floor and .277 from bonus-land. They're averaging .643
from the line as well, which is nothing to write home about.
They're averaging 12.3 assists per game as well.
So what to expect? We still don't know enough about them to really say too
much. We can say that if Stevanov is either 6-6 or plays 6-6, then their best
strategy is speed and making quick plays. We'll see.