The Sporting Goods | The rising Flames
Howard Moore’s hiring three years ago, as head men’s basketball coach for the University of Illinois at Chicago, was a homecoming. Upon taking the job, Moore moved his family into the University Village development on Maxwell Street, located less than a mile from his birth home, a two-flat unit of the ABLA public housing project. Even after his family moved away, Moore continued to spend much of his youth in the neighborhood known colloquially, if euphemistically, as the Village.
“It was a hustler’s place,” says Jimmy Collins, Moore’s predecessor at UIC. Collins recalls that when he took the job in 1996, the stretch of South Halsted Street that flanked the university’s eastern border was largely the province of grifters peddling hubcaps, radios and watches. The destitution of the neighborhood was no help to UIC’s basketball program, which has long found itself on the low end of the totem pole when it comes to winning over local hoopsters. But after two initial seasons of growing pains, in which the Flames won only seven and eight games, respectively, the team started this season 9-1, before dropping three straight games to close out last month.
For more of this story and other Chicago sports essays, visit chicagosidesports.com.