Looking down from high up on a wall in the Chattem Basketball Practice Facility are some of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s all-time great basketball players and teams.
The recently-installed mural, which is 8-feet tall and stretches the length one wall in the gym, is one of several new decorative items in the facility that showcase UTC men’s and women’s basketball’s tradition.
“It shows ownership,” said Lady Mocs coach Wes Moore, whose 11 Southern Conference championships are recognized on a banner at one end of the gym.
Just inside the front doors of the Lawson Center, there is a large “Chattanooga Basketball” sign on the left. In the hallway leading to the gym are large letters that spell out “MOCS” and on one wall are frames for 10 large photos. Among the photos already on display is a shot of Mindaugas Katelynas winning the 2005 NCAA slam dunk contest.
Men’s basketball coach John Shulman said the practice facility, which opened in January 2009, needed some personality.
“It’s a beautiful facility, but whose facility was it?” Shulman said. “You walk in Virginia Tech’s, you walk in Kentucky’s, you walk in Ole Miss’, you walk in anywhere and you can see the history of the program. And so that’s what we needed to do and that’s what we wanted to do. And I think it looks fantastic.”
There are six banners in the gym — three for the men and three for the women — that commemorate SoCon regular-season and tournament championships, as well as NCAA tournament appearances.
“Hopefully it will help in recruiting,” Shulman said of the decorations, “and also, you see the banners up there and every time you go in there to work, hopefully it gives you a little more motivation.”
The UTC athletic department has been “rebranding” its facilities for more than a year. Mocs signage and logos are now prominent at Finley Stadium. The tennis courts have been done, as has Maclellan Gym. Frost Stadium and McKenzie Arena will have new looks, as well, athletic director Rick Hart said.
“We think there’s some things we can do with branding that will enhance the look and feel, the aesthetics — and showcase the tradition,” Hart said. “These are things we can get to in phases.”
Between the practice facility, the arena, the softball facility and Maclellan Gym, UTC is spending around $100,000 on the upgrades, Hart said.
“It’s a combination of private money, sponsorship money, budgeted money and money from other revenue sources, such as our licensing revenues,” he said.
The next project will be McKenzie Arena, which is getting numerous new touches throughout the facility. The installation should be completed within a few weeks, Hart said.
“You want your facilities to look finished, complete, modern and I think sometimes the graphics and colors can help with that,” he said.
McKenzie Arena is still scheduled to undergo a major renovation in 2012. The retractable seats in the lower seating area will be replaced and a curtain system will be installed for the upper deck.
Hart said a start date for the renovations has not been set. Until then, there are other branding-related projects that he would like to see done.
“We just feel like, when people come here, they’ve got to know it’s the home of the Mocs,” he said. “I think we’ve accomplished that with what we’ve done and will continue to do.”
John Frierson is in his fifth year at the Times Free Press and fifth year covering University of Tennessee at Chattanooga athletics. The bulk of his time is spent covering Mocs football, but he also writes about women’s basketball and the big-picture issues and news involving the athletic department. A native of Athens, Ga., John grew up a few hundred yards from the University of Georgia campus. Instead of becoming a Bulldog he attended Ole ...