published Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

UTC coach John Shulman 'not proud' at 2-4

Ricky Taylor looks to pass the ball during a recent UTC basketball practice.
Ricky Taylor looks to pass the ball during a recent UTC basketball practice.
Photo by Alex Washburn /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

The Mocs' train to the top of the Southern Conference is running behind schedule.

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga coach John Shulman said Monday that his team is not where he expected it to be heading into conference competition at Georgia Southern on Thursday.

It would be one thing if he had a squad full of freshmen and sophomores, but these Mocs are an experienced bunch with four returning starters, a junior center and a senior post as the sixth man. Yet they are 2-4 with unexpected home losses to Kennesaw State and Gardner-Webb, the latter by two points on Sunday.

"We're not a basketball team that I'm real proud of at this moment," Shulman said Monday before practice. "I'm not real proud of our coaches, myself and our team. We have to go to work. If it was late February, I'd be in a real panic."

UTC trailed KSU 37-31 at halftime and lost by six. It trailed Savannah State by 10 before winning 65-63 last Friday.

The Mocs were down 11 points to Gardner-Webb in the second half Sunday but led by two with 20 seconds to go in regulation and forced an errant 3-point shot with five seconds to go in overtime. But they lost 76-74 when Tashan Newsome laid in the miss with 2.4 seconds to go in the extra period.

"It's a heartbreaker, a game that we were supposed to win and fell short in," UTC senior Ricky Taylor said. "We play again and start SoCon play Thursday. We have to focus on that."

Shulman had his focus lasered in on his seniors following Sunday's loss when he said, "This is the seniors' team. When we went to the NCAA tournament in '05, that wasn't my team. That was Mindaugus [Katelynas] and Casey Long's team. When we went in '09, that was [Nicchaeus] Doaks and the seniors and Keyron [Sheard].

"This is their team, and what they want to make of their team is up to them."

Taylor and fellow seniors Omar Wattad and Jahmal Burroughs accepted those comments. Keegan Bell missed the start of practice because of a previously scheduled meeting, and the other senior, forward Chris Early, missed it all because of illness.

"[Shulman] is right because he's not the one out there playing," Taylor said. "His job is to set us up to be successful. It's up to us to finish the rest of the story. I agree with him wholeheartedly, and I agree that we need to step up as leaders."

UTC rated No. 317 in the RPI rankings on RealTimeRPI.com on Monday evening. The Citadel, at 332, was the only SoCon school with a lower ranking of the 344 teams listed.

"It is the seniors' team, and as returning players it's our job to push the team to do better," Burroughs said. "I agree with Coach."

He even agreed with Shulman's Sunday remark that Burroughs' statistical line looked identical to what the coach produced -- zeros across all categories except for two fouls in 17 minutes.

"Sometimes you'll have bad games," Burroughs said. "I never take offense to things like that because I know he wants the best for me and it's to keep me on my toes and let me know that I'm not doing my job."

Early to bed

Early spent the afternoon session in his on-campus apartment. He saw doctors early in the day, Shulman said, after falling ill around halftime of Sunday's game.

"I'm really concerned about Chris," Shulman said. "I put him back in the game, and 30 seconds later he's giving me the fist [signal] to come out. He was sick. They said his blood sugar was low, and that's scary. They're running a lot of tests."

Stokes works some

Freshman wing Lance Stokes lost the soft cast on his left ankle and participated in light drills Monday. He is questionable for Thursday.

Contact David Uchiyama at duchiyama@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6484. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/UchiyamaCTFP.

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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ldurham said...

Also of concern, but not mentioned in the article: does anyone go to these games any more? I remember years ago, the Roundhouse was rocking. The last couple of times I went, it was mostly crickets chirping.

November 29, 2011 at 8:18 a.m.
chatter10 said...

They have got to get a better home schedule, it is middle school level teams coming to the roundhouse and even worse, UTC is not winning against those teams

November 29, 2011 at 9:09 a.m.
ChattanoogaVol said...

Shulman was really talking up his players on 102.3 radio before the season. He was talking about our returning players, and how much better they were. He was really hyping up the new players on the team. Funny thing is all of these new players he talked up, except for the kid that transferred in from Georgia, hardly even play.

Maybe it's the coaching that is (and has been) the issue. Surely, there is someone out there who can come in here and do a better job than Shulman.

November 29, 2011 at 9:39 a.m.
hometownhero said...

Now I've seen just about every home game for the past few seasons. If you ask me, Schulman needs to lay off his players just a little bit and put a little more trust in em. Its amazing the talent they have on that team (drazen, bell, wattad, white, taylor etc..). But Schulman wants to punish/bench players every time someone makes a mistake. They have real good team, and they play solid defense. On offense they play like they don't want to make the mistake that gets them benched and it limits them big time.

November 29, 2011 at 11:36 a.m.

Let's hope that Shulman is at the end of this contract. It will make change easier.

November 29, 2011 at 3:27 p.m.
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