Mocs begin crucial road swing

Mocs begin crucial road swing

January 21st, 2010 by David Uchiyama in Sportscollege

Staff Photo by Dan Henry UTC's Ricky Taylor (22) shoots through Long Island defenders Jamal Olasewere (1) and Booker Hucks (20) during the first half of play in Tuesday's Dr. Pepper Classic at McKenzie Arena.

Socks -- lots of socks.

Ricky Taylor stuffed about half of his large duffel bag with socks before he and the Mocs left on a six-day road trip that began Wednesday afternoon and will end about 2 a.m. Tuesday morning.

"I packed a lot for six days, and I have a whole bunch of socks," the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga guard said. "I wear two pair when I play so I'm going to go through a lot of them."

The Mocs will play three games on this extended trip east. The first is tonight at UNC Greensboro followed Saturday with a game at Elon then cap it on Monday with a stop at Wofford on the way home.

"You can handle the two games because that's a normal trip," UTC coach John Shulman said. "That Sunday and Monday, we'll feel like we've been in Spartanburg for two weeks."

Samford is on a similar swing with their first two opponents switched and the Bulldogs play at Furman on Monday. UNCG and the College of Charleston are the only other SoCon schools to play three straight conference road games on the road.

"I don't agree with that," Shulman said. "I think everybody should have the same schedule. We'll take what we're given and make the best of it.

"We'll wave at the Samford bus on the road as we criss-cross."

Mocs point guard Keegan Bell is breaking the trip down into three two-day periods, each one dedicated to the upcoming game.

"You try not to think about it as three games in six days," Bell said. "It's one game in two days, three times. This will help us grow."

The first, against UNCG (3-15, 2-5 SoCon) is a rematch of a contest last Monday that the Mocs won 58-54 in McKenzie Arena in large part because they had a 25-2 run.

The Spartans shot 25 percent from the floor to keep pace as the worst shooting team in the SoCon at 38 percent for the season.

"We're not making many shots," UNCG coach Mike Dement said. "We'd better go to the offensive glass because we haven't shot it well all year long and we need to do that better in order to win."

Shulman said this trip will test the Mocs (11-7, 3-2 SoCon) mental toughness. The only similar experience they've had in this situation came earlier in the year during the South Padre Island Invitational which took them from Richmond to Missouri to Texas.

And their only close game in a month required a buzzer-beating shot by Bell to lift the Mocs.

"More than anything, we have to be tough," Shulman said. "That means rebounding, handling difficult situations. When you're up six and they go on an 8-0 run late in the game, how do you respond?"