The Wofford Terriers can bark all they want.
They've won the last two Southern Conference tournament championships, almost upset Wisconsin two years ago and BYU last season in the NCAA tournament.
They were supposed to lose their bite this season.
SoCon player of the year Noah Dahlman and several of his buddies -- Cameron Rundles, Jamar Diggs and Tim Johnson -- graduated. Four of Wofford's top six player left wearing two SoCon rings in addition to the traditional cap and gown.
"It's been some good and some bad," coach Mike Young said of this season. "Young kids are coming on."
The Terriers' bite is back.
Wofford tried five different starting lineups in its first 10 games. They've started the same five guys in the last six games.
Wofford won at Wake Forest 56-52 on Jan. 2 and then returned to SoCon competition with a 75-58 basting of the College of Charleston -- the squad that won at Clemson, took No. 4 Louisville to the last minute and beat Tennessee.
The Terriers beat Charleston coach Bobby Cremins so bad that he contemplated opening his liquor cabinet.
"I don't drink during the season, but I wanted a double vodka-tonic after that game," Cremins said. "They schooled us. They took us to school."
Wofford seniors Kevin Giltner and Brad Loesing have two championship rings from the past seasons. Loesing, the point guard, played a significant roles in both while Giltner played a reserve role.
This season, they're the stars.
Giltner ranks No. 6 in the SoCon with an average of 15.4 points per game and Loesing contributes an average of 13.8 points and 4.9 assists.
"This is their team and this is their time," Young said. "Lose guys and it's their time. Brad has started all but two games in his career. Kevin has been a big part of what we've done, but his role was to take four or five shots a game.
"How unselfish of them to do, not what's in it for me, but what do I have to give this team to help us win."
Wofford will face UTC (8-9, 2-2) on Thursday in McKenzie Arena. Mocs coach John Shulman said he notices the absence of Dahlman and his former co-horts. Yet he sees different players doing the same things that made Wofford the best team in the conference the last two years.
"If you don't match their toughness, then you end up getting beat like we did last year," Shulman said. "They are tough, hard-nosed winners.
"Their identity is clear."
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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