Zaccheus Mason joked that he didn’t threaten to tackle his University of Tennessee at Chattanooga teammates if they voted somebody else captain.
Even without the threat from the former Ole Miss tight end, the Mocs voted Mason, Drazen Zlovaric, Ronrico White and Dontay Hampton as captains for the upcoming 2012-13 campaign.
They have a difficult job.
The Mocs roster includes five freshmen. Coach John Shulman joked that the newcomers need directions to the cafeteria.
Mason provided some instruction before the first official practice of the season. The junior called all the guys together — including two practice-only players — for a brief meeting without the coaches.
“I told them that we have to put the past behind us,” Mason said. “All of us older guys should be setting examples for the younger guys.
“I wanted to start the season off on a good hand, and I wanted to give everybody words of encouragement and that our destiny is in our hands.”
With Shulman as president and the assistant coaches as his cabinet, the captains are like congressmen. They can go to Shulman with concerns and still tutor the youngsters who have found the University Center but need instructions in practice, in the locker room and away from McKenzie Arena.
“I’m older than all the guys, and I feel that I’ve been through the wars and I know what college basketball is all about,” said 22-year-old Zlovaric, who recorded more laps than any other player in a preseason 12-minute run.
The Mocs of last season had plenty of experience with four seniors in the starting lineup. Yet they ended the season with an 6-11 mark in the Southern Conference.
The new captains want to flip that record or do even etter. But they’ll need to lead their freshman followers.
“We’re around coaches almost all day and all week, but sometimes a player has to say it and a message is different when a player says it,” said White, a sophomore. “Sometimes [freshmen] can’t see everything, so us captains have to step in.”
The leaders have the challenge of getting UTC back to at least a winning record, challenging for a North Division title and winning at least one SoCon tournament game — the minimum standard of success for any UTC basketball team.
“Our young guys don’t how to stretch, how to prepare for a game, and captains lead the way,” Shulman said. “Like any team, we’re going to have great times and tough times. The captains will lead.
“They’ve been through it all.”
Contact David Uchiyama at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6484. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/UchiyamaCTFP.
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 ...