AL HAMNIK: UIC's Howard Moore has a winner despite his 5-23 record

2014-02-24T20:45:00Z 2014-03-18T22:10:05Z AL HAMNIK: UIC's Howard Moore has a winner despite his 5-23 recordAl Hamnik Times Columnist nwitimes.com
February 24, 2014 8:45 pm  • 

If any coach had good reason to jump up and down like a madman, scream bloody murder at his players, and ride officials like a golf cart, it's University of Illinois-Chicago's Howard Moore.

The Flames are 5-23 and have a 17-game losing streak.

They've dropped 11 games by eight points or less.

"These guys have gone through hell," said Moore, who was the guest speaker at Monday's 60th Annual Sportsmanship Dinner at Halls of St. George.

Sportsmanship and the fourth-year UIC coach go together like a new suit and shoes.

This has been a tough season, but the former Wisconsin assistant has kept it together, emotionally, while others in the profession are experiencing meltdowns at an alarming rate.

You remember Southern Illinois' Barry Hinson going off after a Jan. 5 loss at Illinois State, belittling his team in a seven-minute rip job that was an instant YouTube hit.

And then there was Syracuse's Jim Boeheim imploding after a questionable call and getting ejected late in his team's loss at Duke on Saturday.

Basketball is an emotional game, the pressure to win greater than ever, but fans tell me too many young coaches today are directing their frustration toward players at the youth and high school levels.

They're screaming all the time instead of teaching.

"When you go through a struggle like we are and you're losing games, the main thing you want to hang onto as a coach is your poise," Moore said.

"We harp on discipline and being under control to our players. If they don't see that from me, they lose faith in what you're saying and go in the opposite direction."

Moore read where a few of Boeheim's players said they would've won the Duke game if he had not "lost it."

I can't remember a coach being thrown under the bus by his own team, but Boeheim deserved it.

"My mentor, Bo Ryan, has been in thousands of games. You learn from other people and you observe, and I can learn from Coach Boeheim's mistake," Moore said.

"You try to coach within your personality. I'm not the type of guy who goes crazy on the sideline and curses out officials. Be who you are but remember you're on a stage."

Ownership and responsibility are two priorities of every coach, regardless of the level, according to Moore. Sure, he's gotten technical fouls, though none this season, surprisingly. And he admits being very demonstrative.

"Bottom line is this: I don't want officials coming over to me and dropping four-letter words," Moore said. "So why would I do that as a coach?"

UIC has two area players on its roster — Valparaiso's Hayden Humes and Thornton's Jay Parker — and a verbal commitment from Munster's Drew Hackett.

Moore's bio in the school's media notes claim his quest is to become "Chicago's blue-collar college team" and I can see that. Victories are nice, but discipline, respect and a hardy work ethic get you much farther in life.

Dialogue is critical between coaches and officials in helping prevent meltdowns, ejections and technicals. It can settle down rowdy fans who sit there watching their coaches do nothing but whine, scream and complain.

"I want to coach my players the way I'd want to be coached," Moore said. "You can't have them playing out of fear or spite. But I will raise my voice a bit to get my point across.

"Most of all, we have to be teachers."

Sounds like a winner, even at 5-23.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at al.hamnik@nwi.com.

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