Every men's basketball team in the Southern Conference is playing at least one non-Division I opponent this season.
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga will be the first to play two cakes when it faces Montreat College from the NAIA Division II ranks tonight at 7 in McKenzie Arena.
Scheduling conflicts -- including College of Charleston's departure to the Colonial Athletic Association -- necessitated three non-Division I games for Will Wade's first season as the Mocs' head coach. But he scheduled those teams with a purpose.
Covenant and Hiwassee (Dec. 10) are area teams. Montreat is coached by former UTC player Lincoln Walters, who played with current Mocs student assistant Johnny Taylor.
"We didn't just go pick random schools," Wade said. "We wanted to make sure that we filled those games with teams that at least had a tie to Chattanooga."
Walters is appreciative of getting a chance to return to McKenzie Arena.
"Hopefully Will didn't look at our roster and say, 'Let's call them because we can beat the pants off of them,'" Walters joked. "It's going to be good to be back. When you're part of that Chattanooga family, it's going to be that way forever."
Wade felt the Mocs (1-1) improved as the week progressed after losing 89-78 at Radford on Monday.
"Wednesday we focused a lot more on ourselves; then Thursday and Friday we focused more on our two-day preparation for Montreat," Wade said. "On Thursday we were better, and today we were much better."
That's pretty important to Wade.
"The day before a game you can tell a lot about how you're going to play," he said. "The Sunday before we played at Radford, we were very sluggish and weren't right.
"Our preparation has been better, and I think our guys have a better mindset, so I expect us to play well tomorrow."
This will be the third game of the season for most of the Mocs. But freshman point guard Anthanee Doyle will be making his season debut. He missed all but the last 10 days of preseason practice with an illness.
His arrival should alleviate some pressure from starting point guard Greg Pryor and allow Alex Bran to play more at shooting guard.
"It will be interesting to see how he does. We won't know until we throw him into a game situation," Wade said. "Montreat has good guards who can score and drive it, so it will be a good test for his defense. I'm as interested as the next guy to see how he will do."
Contact David Uchiyama at firstname.lastname@example.org or 4230757-6484. Follow him 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 ...