published Saturday, December 7th, 2013

Options limited with Chattanooga Mocs' deficient depth

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    UTC men's head basketball coach Will Wade.
    Photo by C. B. Schmelter.
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On the white board in his office, the names in yellow are players University of Tennessee at Chattanooga coach Will Wade has in his basketball program now.

The players listed in gray are on their way.

He could use them now.

The Mocs' current roster is not stuffed with players who are capable of running Wade's up-tempo style he branded as "Chaos." There are a few players remaining from the John Shulman era who are playing well in the new system, but not all of them.

And it's hurting UTC every day in practice as well as game day.

"We can't hold guys as accountable as they need to be held," Wade said Thursday. "They understand we're limited in our options. There are certain things that we have to let slide that will not cut it in the future -- will not work in the future and when the season is over."

Wade vented some frustration to strength and conditioning coach Greg Goldin toward the end of UTC's 87-56 loss at Georgia on Monday. With Goldin sitting toward the end of UTC's bench, Wade shook his fist and Goldin nodded, knowing that a player violated the golden rule of just playing hard.

Violating that rule angers Wade more than any mistake a player can make on the court.

"We have to field a team, so there are certain things that you just can't hold them accountable for," Wade said. "We're not playing as fast as we need to. We shouldn't be playing guys 30 minutes, but we have no options.

"We will in the future."

In UTC's only win against a Division I team this season -- 87-76 over IUPUI in the Las Vegas Invitational -- each of the Mocs' five starters played at least 30 minutes. Senior center Zaccheus Mason played a team season-high 37 minutes against the Jaguars and scored 27 points.

Each of the five starters also scored at least 13 points in that game. The bench contributed only six points, all from Eric Robertson. Only he and walk-on Alex Bran played more than four minutes off the bench.

Mason, the lone senior on the roster, is averaging 25 minutes per game, and it likely would be more if not for first-half foul trouble in most of UTC's games. He knows the roster, and he knows that the only backup at his position is freshman T.J. Williams. But he wants to earn his time.

"There are certain rules that I have for myself that others don't," said Mason, who leads UTC in scoring at 16.1 points per game and rebounding at seven per contest. "In practice, you get a lot of reps and you really have to stick it out and go through troubles in practices and games."

Mason played 25 minutes and scored 15 points in UTC's 106-65 whipping at UCLA on Nov. 24. After the game, Wade said the team performance was embarrassing and he apologized to UTC fans on the postgame radio show.

"If I had more players, there are two or three who would never have seen the court in the second half," Wade said after that game. "We had to play guys. There are guys that didn't deserve to go in but we had to play them."

The situation will be different next year. Transfers Justin Tuoyo and Tre McLean will have practiced with the Mocs for a full year. Wade will add junior college transfers Duke Etheridge and Jacolby Mobley as well as incoming freshmen Brandon Maxwell and Shaq Preston. Wade is scheduled to be on the road this weekend recruiting a midseason transfer as well.

"There are guys on this team who don't do things the right way, or the way it needs to be done to be a championship team," Wade said. "But we don't have a lot of options."

Contact David Uchiyama at duchiyama@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6484. Follow him at twitter.com/UchiyamaCTFP.

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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