published Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

Shulman: Early production no factor

Coach John Shulman noticed that four of his five starters provided offensive production in the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's 76-63 loss at Tennessee on Monday.

But the power forwards, starter Jahmal Burroughs and reserve Zaccheus Mason, combined for two points and eight rebounds in 40 minutes. And Mason's two points counted for half of the scoring from the Mocs' bench.

That's not a concern, Shulman said.

"I'm not worried about great production from our bench," he said. "I'd be more worried about getting more production from the 4. But there aren't a lot of Jeronne Maymons in our league."

Maymon is Tennessee's man in the 4 spot.

Perhaps suspended UTC senior Chris Early would have added a few more points or rebounds if he would have played -- perhaps.

Shulman said the results of UTC's five games without Early will not factor into his decision whether to reinstate Early, who posted derogatory comments on Twitter that were discovered three weeks later.

"A decision will not be made whether we need him at the 4 or we need him for our team," Shulman said. "My concern is not with our basketball team; it's with Chris, and I know you think that's kind of crazy. I've talked with Chris and had multiple texts and emails, and we've sat down and talked. He's hurting and sorry and embarrassed.

"You can talk to 20 people and get 20 different opinions. But nobody has been through the wars with Chris, and I've got the relationship with Chris and I'm making the decision."

Shulman indicated a decision may be expected by the beginning of next week.

"As school begins on Monday, we will have come with a statement and made a decision," he said.

The Mocs took Tuesday off to rest and relax before heading into the heart of Southern Conference play beginning Thursday against Western Carolina.

"Right now, being fresh is more important that banging on each other," Shulman said. "We're getting to the point where we know what we're expected to do."

Speedy Samford

Samford's Bulldogs have operated the slow-paced Princeton-style offense for 15 years with Jimmy Tillette as the head coach.

He now has them playing faster offensively and guarding man-to-man instead of using a matchup zone defense.

"They're not draining the shot clock on every possession," said Appalachian State coach Jason Capel, whose team visits Samford on Thursday. "They make 3s and they get layups."

Tillette's team is 3-9 this season with its slightly altered style that's averaging 5.1 more points per game this season than last.

"I'm glad somebody noticed the difference," Tillette joked. "We've made some structural changes while we still have the essence of Princeton, maybe to get the ball more into the kill zone."

Mountain men

The SoCon tournament will be held in Western Carolina's greater backyard of Asheville.

Catamounts coach Larry Hunter isn't thinking that far ahead. March is about 16 games away. But he knows WCU supporters are looking forward to the short drive -- a daily drive if all goes well for the Cats.

"There is a lot of excitement from the Western Carolina alumni back in Asheville," Hunter said. "They have good memories of the tournament being in Asheville. There is a lot of excitement from that aspect."

Tillette thanks Dement

Former UNC Greensboro coach Mike Dement parted ways with that program in December.

Tillette gained a great deal of respect for Dement two seasons ago in a potential tragic situation.

"We live in a competitive business. I don't know Mike Dement very well, I want everybody to know this," Tillette said. "Two years ago at UNCG I had a seizure. I became conscious and was wheeled to the emergency room. The person sitting outside the ER, waiting for me, was Mike Dement."

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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