University of Tennessee at Chattanooga basketball coach John Shulman spoke to the Mocs football team several times this past season.
He once said that coach Russ Huesman's team was a few plays away from being ranked in the top 10.
Shulman said Tuesday that his Mocs are in a similar situation -- minus the ranking -- because they're so close to being more successful.
"We're up two with 20 seconds to go against Gardner-Webb and we should win that game, and we're up four with 12 seconds to go against [College of] Charleston," Shulman said. "Give me 32 seconds and at worst we're 4-4 and 1-1 in the SoCon and I ain't feeling like I'm feeling.
"Those 32 seconds went against us. Does that mean we're a bad team? No. It means we're the same team but we didn't get a break.
"We played like a good basketball team but lost the games," Shulman said. "Sometimes that's the case. That hasn't been the case in other games."
The season tally now has UTC at 2-6 overall and 0-2 in the Southern Conference North Division.
Eagles taking flight
Georgia Southern opened its SoCon slate by handling the two North Division preseason favorites.
The Eagles beat UTC 84-76 after leading by 16 points and dispatched Appalachian State 73-62 after leading the Mountaineers by 25.
"People may think it's a fluke, but both are good teams," GSU coach Charlton Young said. "After what we went through last year [1-15], we have such a huge chip on our shoulders and so much to prove."
Convincing wins over the Mocs and Mountaineers shows the Eagles are not to be taken lightly once the SoCon season gets into full swing on Jan. 5.
Until then, the Eagles will be in first place with Davidson and Charleston. It's the Eagles' first 2-0 SoCon start since 2005-06 when they started 3-0, finished 11-4 and won the South Division.
"We've heard that we're not very good and I can't coach, and sometimes from our own people," Young said. "We've got something to prove. We want people to stop talking about last year. Our guys are confident and realize they can be pretty good."
New Phoenix heights
Elon earned its first win over a BCS-conference school when it took down South Carolina 58-53 before a sold-out crowd of 1,589 in Alumni Gym.
The Phoenix were picked fifth of six SoCon North teams in the preseason coaches' poll. Then they beat the Gamecocks. Then they opened the SoCon season with wins over Furman and UNC Greensboro.
It's a stout start for a team that went 12-24 in the SoCon during coach Matt Matheny's first two seasons.
"I like the way we're defending and it's given us a chance to stay in games and win games," Matheny said. "But we've had some scoring droughts."
Beating South Carolina is the high-water mark for the Phoenix program's history, and it's something that Matheny is flaunting.
"To be able to beat a BCS-conference school gives not only our players and coaches belief, but it does so for the campus and community," Matheny said. "Beating South Carolina is something we've already used in recruiting, too."
Groselle stuffing stats
The Citadel may stink at 2-5 overall, 0-2 in the SoCon. But it's not because of junior Mike Groselle.
The 6-foot-11 center leads the league with 17.7 points and 11.4 rebounds per game. His rebounding average is No. 10 in the country.
David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...