published Thursday, December 8th, 2011

Mocs basketball rotation still a work in progress

  • photo
    UTC players Drazen Zlovaric (20) and Ronrico White (11) box a Savannah State player in the corner as head coach John Shulman looks on in this file photo.
    Photo by Robin Rudd /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Sophomore Drew Baker started at power forward for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga against Warren Wilson and Savannah State.

He hasn't played since.

"It's nice to start, but I knew it wouldn't guarantee my a starting spot all year," Baker said. "I need to keep working and keep a positive mindset."

Freshman Lance Stokes played well in the final minutes at Georgia Southern. He didn't play at the College of Charleston.

Zaccheus Mason played 19 minutes against the Eagles but only four in the double-overtime loss to the Cougars.

The Mocs play again Saturday night at Mercer and host Spalding next Tuesday.

Playing time is becoming hard to come by for some of the UTC players. Coach John Shulman's rotation is evolving early in the season is anything but set. Well, the starters are pretty well set with four of them returning from last year.

But the remaining minutes are up for grabs.

"It's harder in league play and some guys haven't been through the wars and don't quite understand yet, but they'll get it, so we've shortened the rotation a little bit," Shulman said. "You never know. And comfort leads to complacency, and I want guys to be comfortable but also do what they're supposed to do."

Junior Dontay Hampton has thrown himself in the mix at shooting guard which pushed freshman Ronrico White to small forward and Stokes to the bench on Saturday.

Stokes is practicing some at power forward -- not his natural position but an easier spot in Shulman's system where he can create offensive mismatches -- which is pushing senior Chris Early to center a bit, and sending Drazen Zlovaric to the bench where freshman Jared Bryant has been spending most of his time during games.

"Jared is a freshman, and in tough games I may need to slide over and play the 5. And Lance can play the 4 because he can catch on to that real easy," Early said. "I think it's all another thing that can help us will ball games."

The current rotation has created a logjam at power-forward which can be played by Early, Stokes, Baker, and senior Jahmal Burroughs.

"Chris has done a nice job, we need to get Z there, Jahmal knows what we want there and Baker has shown flashes," Shulman said. "If Rico takes Lances' minutes at the 3, I like having lance on the court.

So who's the odd-man out?

"I don't know," Shulman said. "It's not up to me. It's up to them. That's why we practice, they have to prove themselves every single day."

about David Uchiyama...

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 ...

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Lefty said...

Wonder when they'll get the coaching rotation fixed?

December 8, 2011 at 9:51 a.m.
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