The starting lineup that University of Tennessee at Chattanooga coach Will Wade has used for the last 15 games has a record of 12-3.
The three losses have come in the last four games including a 92-85 setback in overtime at Samford on Saturday.
That lineup could change immediately.
And it could change drastically when the Mocs (15-11, 9-2 SoCon) face Western Carolina (13-11, 6-3) on Thursday in McKenzie Arena.
"Everything is up for grabs," Wade said yesterday afternoon, still irate from the Mocs' sub-par effort against the Bulldogs which continued a trend.
"Starting jobs, playing time, everything is up for grabs," Wade said. "I told them, 'If you want to play, practice well this week. Don't practice well and I won't play you.
"I'm going to play five or six guys who are blue-collar -- whoever that may be."
UTC's troubles began with a 94-51 pasting at Davidson. The Mocs rebounded with a sloppy 67-52 win over Furman. Then they lost at Eastern Kentucky on Tuesday by committing a season-high 24 turnovers.
They followed that with a lack-luster overall effort in the Hanna Center on Saturday even thought UTC rallied from six down with two minutes to play to force overtime.
Wade called them "soft" after the game and reiterated the sentiment on Sunday. He expressed his thoughts on the game to his team during a Sunday morning video review of the loss with words harsher than soft.
"We're getting shoved out of the way for rebounds, we're not diving on the floor for balls, not battling for [rebounding] position, not being able to guard the ball, going for rebounds with one hand, and losing 50-50 balls 80-20," he said mid-afternoon. "We were doing those things better three or four weeks ago, but we weren't doing them great. We haven't played well in the last 12 days."
It's showed in several ways. The Mocs have been out-rebounded 152-136 in their last four games.
On Saturday, UTC led the rebounding battle 23-19 at halftime. But after the break, Samford won 28-16 for a 47-39 rebounding win in the end.
"When you out-rebounding Chattanooga, you're doing your job," Samford coach Bennie Seltzer said. "They're long and athletic and tall, so you have to get those 50-50 balls. [Zaccheus] Mason got 10, but he didn't kill us with 15 or something."
UTC led 36-31 at halftime. Samford turned the tide and led by eight with 9:20 before UTC forced overtime.
"Give them a lot of credit," Wade said. "They played hard. They deserved the win. They played smarter and tougher."
And Wade de-bunked the myth on Sunday that there is no such thing as a good loss -- especially during the college basketball season for a team in a one-bid league.
"It would have been the worst thing for us if we would have won," Wade said. "We would have kept doing the same things. We've been slipping for the last couple where we don't do tough stuff in practice."
Wade has their attention after Sunday morning's review session.
"I did all the talking," he said. "I set the mood."
He'll also set Thursday's starting lineup.
Contact David Uchiyama at email@example.com or at 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 ...
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