published Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

Appalachian State's Jamaal Rice, UTC's Ronrico White can share point talk

Appalachian State's Mike Neal.
Appalachian State's Mike Neal.
Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
  • photo
    Chattanooga's Ronrico White (11) rebounds during the second half against High Point.
    Photo by Dan Henry /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Wing players Jamaal Trice of Appalachian State and Ronrico White of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga will have something interesting to talk about Thursday when Trice's Mountaineers play in McKenzie Arena.

They can talk about playing point guard.

The two spent the first part of the season playing the point out of necessity. ASU point guard Mike Neal was out due to academic suspension, and UTC senior point Dontay Hampton was out with a knee injury.

Neal and Hampton have returned, letting Trice and White return to their natural positions.

It's worked well for both Southern Conference teams.

ASU (7-8, 3-1) has won six of its seven games with Neal in the lineup. The only loss was at South Carolina. The Mocs (7-10, 2-2) have won four of six games since White moved back to the wing.

"In college basketball, it starts with the point guard," Mountaineers coach Jason Capel said. "That's the head of the snake, the point of attack. Having Michael back allows us to do different things offensively."

And they've been successful since Neal saw the pain and losses he caused his squad by slacking on his studies.

"I apologized to the entire team, the coaching staff, the managers and said I was sorry and would never let it happen again," Neal said. "I didn't see that academics were important. It hurt me bad. We started off with a rough season, and there were a lot of situations where I knew I could have helped my team.

"I know it was tough on Jamaal. I think that's why we got off to a bad start."

Furman coach Jeff Jackson also has had to shift his rotation and force players to play out of position just to survive a practice or a game. Paladins point guard Jordan Loyd went down with an injury in the first game of the season. Furman's two Division I wins are over Presbyterian in December and over Wofford on Monday with true freshman Stephen Croone playing at the point.

"We've had to move people up, down and all around," Jackson said. "That's a challenge. It's very disruptive. Like in football, you lose your quarterback and it's disruptive. In basketball, if you lose your point guard, it's the same thing."

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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