Martynas Bareika is undefeated.
He went 2-0 in checkers on Thanksgiving Day, beating University of Tennessee at Chattanooga basketball teammate Eric Robertson and coach John Shulman as they waited at a Chattanooga-area Cracker Barrel.
Bareika has two more wins in checkers than the Mocs have against Division I competition this season. That difference could be cut in half today.
UTC (1-4) will play its second road game when it faces a struggling Kennesaw State team today at 2:30 in the KSU Convocation Center.
"It's little things that we need to fix to get back on track," Bareika said. "We're getting back on track on Saturday. I'm sure about that. For some reason we play away games better."
Except that the Mocs went 0-14 in road games last year and started this season with a 69-55 loss at No. 7 Kansas despite leading by eight at halftime.
"This year is a different team," said Bareika, a reserve guard who is in his third year with the team. "We played, at Kansas, really good there. Here, maybe we're nervous in front of our own people."
Nerves or not, UTC lost three games against mid-major teams on its home floor as part of the CBE Hall of Fame Classic.
That leaves UTC without a win over a Division I team to date. It's unpleasant but not particularly surprising with eight underclassmen in the rotation as opposed to last year with four senior starters.
Shulman said after losing to Louisiana Tech on Wednesday that the Mocs have improved on the floor but not on the scoreboard.
"Our team is not stressing me out," Shulman said. "I thought from day one to day three of that tournament, we improved. I can't tell you that I have the same stuff going on in my head and body that I had last year."
He also said the Mocs deserve some success in the form of wins. Then in practice Thursday he talked about the 2008-09 Mocs and the UNC Greensboro squad of last season, both of which won Southern Conference division titles. The '09 Mocs won the conference tournament.
"In '09 we were 2-8 and 0-1 in the league at Christmas, then had the division locked up with three games to play," Shulman said. "Greensboro had a lot of young kids and then figured it out. They were 0-4 in the league and had lost 11 straight games. They won the [division].
"There's no recipe on when you figure it out. You just have to figure it out sometime."
Winning one -- perhaps today against a KSU program that won three games last year -- would be a good first ingredient in the mix.
"We're about as ready as we'll ever get, and we really want this win," sophomore guard Ronrico White said. "We could have been 3-0 or 2-1 in that tournament. With a few free throws or a couple of corrected mistakes, we could be 4-1.
"We've just got to get a win."
Always optimistic guard Gee McGhee added: "We need a 'W' now. It would be helpful, get confidence and maybe start a roll."
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 ...