The contents of Casey Jones’ backpack are similar to those for most college students.
It has a couple of notebooks, a few binders, a book or two and the necessary tools to be an everyday student at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
But none are more important than the one-inch three-ring binder with the “Power C” on the front. It’s his day planner for the entire semester.
Each of the basketball Mocs carries a similar notebook detailing almost every hour of the day from daily breakfast with the team to bedtime.
“You don’t have to think about what’s going on today or be nervous about missing something,” Jones said. “I was a freshman last year and I’d wake up and be like, ‘What do I have to do today?’ Now I know what’s going on. You look at your planner and know it’s all there.”
The notebooks are a new addition to the UTC program and were designed and customized to each player by assistant coach Wes Long. He included every class, every tutoring session, study hall and practice.
“If you’re structured off the court, then you’ll be structured on the court,” head coach Will Wade said. “It all adds up. The notebooks are unbelievably important. It’s all about eliminating excuses.
“You know where you’re supposed to be, when you’re supposed to be there.”
Wade boasted that class attendance is near 100 percent for each of the players. In the last week there was one absence and one tardy. As a result, the entire team — not the individuals responsible for missing a bit of class — took an early-morning jogging tour of campus.
“They’re here to get an education, represent this school, this city and this institution and play basketball,” Wade said. “There is a little free time built into their schedules, but not a lot. You should be in class, in tutoring, in study hall or the gym. Those are about the four options of where you should be.”
What about a little time for a girlfriend?
“I don’t need time for a girlfriend because I don’t have one,” senior Zaccheus Mason said. “I definitely feel like we’re more structured. Coach Wade has a plan for this team and having us ready.”
Each day begins with a team breakfast that at least one member of the coaching staff attends. Player are required to attend as well, even if their first class of the day is scheduled for 10 a.m. or later.
“It’s about bonding, because they’re the first people you see when you wake up and the last people you see at night,” Jones said. “Eggs, sausage, bacon — that’s what I like to get every day. I mix in fruit every now and then.”
But only after he’s checked his planner.
Contact David Uchiyama at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6484. 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 ...