published Sunday, November 13th, 2011

Mocs shoot for new history this year

History has a way of becoming a distant memory.

If forgotten, it can be repeated. If an event is remembered in the short term, it can be motivation, inspiration and rationale for making it that distant memory.

The last time the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga men's basketball players were in a game that counted, they trudged off their home floor having lost 62-51 to Furman in the quarterfinals of the Southern Conference tournament -- an elimination game at the end of the 2010-11 season.

The Mocs trailed 13-0 in that game. Ricky Taylor missed a breakaway dunk. The team missed 15 of 20 3-pointers and almost half of its free throws.

This year, UTC's three senior captains have goals of writing a history that will be gladly remembered.

The next step toward that goal comes today when the Mocs play at Indiana University at 5 p.m.

"It's time to evaluate what we've been doing, and it's time to showcase it," Taylor said. "It's a good feeling to know that all this hard work is going to pay off. We'll have to wait until March to see how far this team can go."

After the heartbreaking loss that had one section of Furman cheering louder than the rest of McKenzie Arena combined, Taylor went to work in the offseason on his shooting by spending hours in the gym.

Omar Wattad, also entering his last season, shed about 20 pounds from his belly after that gut-punching loss.

Senior point guard Keegan Bell joined the Steve Nash diet -- which almost eliminates sugars -- and said he feels like a new man.

"We want to win it all," Bell said. "We've gone through the wars, we're together and we want this year to be something that can be remembered forever."

The Mocs winning in Assembly Hall would certainly be memorable for UTC. It would be, arguably, bigger than coach John Shulman's first team beating Tennessee in Thompson-Boling Arena by a point.

The Hoosiers have won five national championships and played in the 2002 title game against Maryland. And until Saturday, former Indiana coach Bob Knight had more wins than any other Division I men's coach.

Seeing, or playing in, a game in Assembly Hall is on the bucket list of serious college basketball fanatics.

"It's a historical place," Bell said. "When you're a kid, you're watching Indiana and you see the place packed out in red, and fans going crazy, it's fun to go there.

"I was watching film last night, and seeing the gym just gets you excited to go there.

"That's history being made."

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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