'2:30 group' adept UTC Mocs trio

'2:30 group' adept UTC Mocs trio

December 6th, 2011 by David Uchiyama in Sports - College

UTC coach John Shulman

UTC coach John Shulman

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Nobody spent the time, energy or effort to come up with a decent nickname.

So Keegan Bell, Dontay Hampton and Ronrico White is collectively called "The 2:30 Group."

That refers to the time of day the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga guard trio gathered during the preseason for conditioning and individual workouts.

"It's just a little bond that we have that we started in individual groups," said Hampton, a junior who prepped locally at Arts & Sciences. "It gets us in a comfort zone. Say if one of us is down, another says, '2:30 group, let's go,' and it's an energizer."

They give coach John Shulman three good ball-handlers on the floor at the same time, which enhances the Mocs' ball-screen motion offense.

Shulman went so far as to say it's like having three point guards at a time because each is able to use the screen, take a dribble or two and create or take an open shot.

"If you show me a team with three point guards on the floor at the same time, I'll show you a good team," Shulman said. "The more ball-handlers you have on the floor, the better you are. And they're doing a good job defensively, so I have full confidence in those guys."

The trio showed signs of close cohesion in an 84-76 loss to Georgia Southern, during which Hampton scored seven points in 72 seconds and freshman White hit two 3-pointers off the bench.

Then they helped UTC (2-6, 0-2 SoCon) take the College of Charleston to double-overtime before falling 87-85.

With senior Bell remaining on the floor for 47 of those 50 minutes, Shulman repeatedly substituted White and Hampton into the game as a tandem for starters Ricky Taylor and Omar Wattad, like a line change in hockey.

Bell finished with UTC's third triple-double in the Mocs' Division I era -- 12 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds. Tim Brooks and Gary Robb had the other two in the early 1990s.

Hampton scored 12 points in 16 minutes, and White scored 11 points in 18 minutes, including three free throws to give UTC a nine-point lead, its largest of the game.

The nickname may stick -- or not -- depending on how Shulman uses guards off his bench, including freshman Lance Stokes, who played well in the waning minutes at Georgia Southern but did not play against the Cougars.

"We have to figure out what we're going to do with No. 1 [Stokes], so we may have to swing him to a 4," Shulman said. "I like having size on the floor, but offensively it's good to have guys who can do what we do.

"I'm glad that we're accumulating depth."

Contact David Uchiyama at duchiyama@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6484. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/UchiyamaCTFP.