The season is set to start.
And it should be entertaining and interesting because the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga graduated five seniors who started at some point last season and have five new freshman who will play under bright lights for the first time tonight.
UTC will begin its season against Tennessee Temple at 7 tonight in McKenzie Arena. The season will have its highs when the newcomers play like veterans, and it will have disappointing moments when the freshmen play like newcomers. Unlike last season, nobody has picked to the Mocs to win their division or advance to NCAA tournament.
The march to exceeding expectations begins tonight.
"I'm excited and I've been thinking about it a long time because I watched film on them myself," freshman Gee McGhee said. "We're ready for real. We're hyped. I haven't felt like since ninth grade, my freshman year of high school, that was the last time I felt like this."
McGhee will attend three classes on Monday with his schedule concluding with an English class. He said he'll concentrate on academics during the day. But one he leaves class, he will be think about nothing but the game.
"I don't know what to expect, but I'm ready," McGhee said. "I'm going to concentrate during the day because school comes first, but after that 2 o'clock, there's no more thinking about school. It's all ball."
The tilt tonight will be the first college game for McGhee and three fellow freshman scholarship players including Casey Jones who is likely to join McGhee in the starting lineup.
"I think after the first game, everybody will have some experience and everybody will be more relaxed," said sophomore Ronrico White who will start at point guard instead of the shooting guard spot he played last season.
"We have a lot of freshmen who haven't played before," White added. "They were talking in the locker room that they're excited.
"I've been waiting for this day since the Georgia Southern loss [in the SoCon tournament] last year."
Tennessee Temple could prove to be a formidable foe for a season-opening game against a non-Division I team.
The Crusaders have four former Division I players on the team including former Mississippi State center John Riek who is a 7-foot-2, 319-pound player from Sudan. He will force UTC to concentrate on defending, rebounding, and scoring from the post -- all points of emphasis for Shulman this season.
"I don't know about my squad yet," Shulman said. "I want to improve, I want to see our guys in a game situation and if we read and react and execute and box-out because they are way bigger than we are.
"I think everybody is going to get action at some point. I don't know our team yet. I have no idea who's going to be productive for us."
That will make the season interesting.
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 ...