LEXINGTON, Ky. — Fresh thoughts and observations from the Mocs at No. 3 Kentucky.
The Opening Tip
I’ve seen the team before.
I’ve seen the Mocs that lost 87-62 at No. 3 Kentucky on Saturday earlier this season at Butler and at the College of Charleston in double-overtime.
Each time, I’ve seen the team lose. The outcome of Saturday’s game in Rupp Arena was never in doubt. The games in Hinkle Fieldhouse and TD Arena went down to the final minutes.
But I’ve also seen this team fall flat in the home-opener against Kennesaw State, a lack-luster overtime win against Savannah State and a loss to Gardner-Webb.
In every season there are three or four games in which a team plays over its head. And there’s also three or four teams in which a missing combination of energy and execution which result in certain losses.
UTC is 11 games into the season and there’s still no telling where the baseline, the average game, the typical contest is for UTC.
They’re good or bad.
Problem is, when they’ve been good, they’ve lost.
Two stats jump out at me.
Anthony Davis grabbed 18 rebounds. He probably would have had 20 if he played in the final four minutes. Somebody, anybody, in Division I basketball, grabbing 18 rebounds in a game doesn’t happen every night, and probably doesn’t happen every week.
Kentucky attempted 33 3-pointers. The Cats went 2-of-7 at Indiana a week ago. That played right into UTC’s game-plan because the Mocs were out-matched inside based on size, length and strength.
It’s pretty clear that the Mocs are going to live and die defensively by the 3-point line. The College of Charleston attempted 43 3-pointers in a double-overtime win against UTC.
Shulman has followed the theory throughout his UTC career that he’d rather let opponents shoot (preferably contested) 3-pointers than anything from inside the arc.
In leading up to this game, several Mocs mentioned that they did not want to end up on the receiving end of SportsCenter Top 10 plays of the night.
They did not.
Kentucky dunked five times including twice in the first 92 seconds of the game. Each of them were impressive, but not worthy of national exposure embarrassing the Mocs.
Kentucky coach John Calapari called a timeout with 3:05 to go just to get empty his bench.
Shulman did the same with 44 seconds to go in order that Trey Brown, Drew Baker, Martynas Bareika could eventually their kids that they played in famed Rupp Arena.
Good move by both coaches to use the end of their bench without delaying the outcome.
The Open Floor
Here’s where we talk about the not-so-Early edition. There’s no need to re-hash exactly what Chris Early posted on Twitter last month about Shulman.
Many employees have said similar things about bosses throughout history. Early’s error came in using Twitter to air those thoughts.
Who hasn’t, at one time or another, wanted to tell their boss where to shove something? We all have — me included.
I remember writing when Early became a Moc that he loved Shulman, his family and the anecdote of Early playing in the basement with Shulman’s son J.C. who was 2 or 3 at the time.
The question is what to do next? Elon booted a football player for negative tweets. Cincinnati suspended a basketball player six games for right-cross to an opponents’ eye.
What should happen next with Chris Early?
I suggest letting those he hurt the most by getting suspended — his UTC teammates — make the decision. Four of those teammates are seniors.
And, as Shulman said earlier this year, it’s the seniors’ team.
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 ...