More than three weeks have passed since the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga men's basketball team experienced the thrill of victory.
It's been three weeks since the Mocs were able to smile, laugh and enjoy themselves after a game.
They trudged through Saturday morning's chill from McKenzie Arena -- site of UTC's December graduation ceremony -- to the Chattem Practice Facility, where players placed their feet on chairs to get their ankles taped before practice.
It was a dreary day before a game day.
The Mocs will face Mercer today at 3 in McKenzie and attempt to end the dreary days of seven losses in nine games this season.
"If you ask any fan, the results are the most important thing, but if you ask a coach, the process is more important," UTC coach John Shulman said. "You can't rush the process. We've made changes and the changes we made we feel real comfortable with, and we're starting to see results."
But UTC (2-7) has won only one game against a Division I opponent. That happened on Nov. 24 at Kennesaw State, which is ranked No. 345 out of 347 teams in the Ratings Percentage Index. Future UTC opponents Furman and the Citadel own the last two spots.
"Fans don't see results, but I see results every day," Shulman said. "I saw us give away a game on Tuesday at LSU."
The Mocs were down two with 11 minutes to play before LSU went on a 12-3 run to polish them off.
"I'm looking at us and thinking, 'We're going to be pretty good,' but nobody else sees that at this moment," Shulman said. "Everybody else sees our improvement once a week, where I see it every day.
"We have to take it from practice to the game, and that takes a little time."
But players have only so much patience.
"It hurt us a lot on Tuesday with simple mistakes," junior Zaccheus Mason said. "A win would help our confidence and show how hard we've been working the progress we've made. Us getting a win would show that we're working hard."
Getting that victory will not be easy. Mercer (3-5) beat Florida State on the Seminoles' home court and return all but one player from a team that beat the Mocs 67-56 last year in Macon.
"I knew this wasn't going to be a walk-through on our schedule," said sophomore guard Ronrico White, who celebrated his 20th birthday Saturday. "Every loss hurts and we have to get through them. I really see a progress."
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 ...