UTC Mocs eager to resume after finals week

UTC Mocs eager to resume after finals week

December 10th, 2011 by David Uchiyama in Sports - College

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga men's basketball team lost in double overtime at the College of Charleston last Saturday.

To players who have spent the week focused on finals, it seems like a month ago.

But to coach John Shulman, the Mocs lost Friday. That's the last time he watched that game.

UTC played well against one of the Southern Conference South Division favorites in their own gym. One call, one bounce, one box-out, one more made free throw and the Mocs would have won.

"Deserved to win," as Shulman has put it.

"I've watched that game, or another just like it, about 50 times, so I'm a little different," Shulman said. "The emotion that we carry over is hard to do, but we have visions of exactly what we're willing to give up or not give up."

The Mocs didn't win at Charleston, resulting in a 2-6 start to the season and an 0-2 SoCon record that will hang over them until league competition resumes Jan. 5 against Western Carolina in McKenzie Arena. They play tonight at Mercer in a nonconference game that offers them a second start from the perspective of senior point guard Keegan Bell and freshman guard Ronrico White.

"Bringing that same energy, and intensity and focus, that we had Saturday, I expect us to bring the same thing against Mercer," White said. "It's somewhat of a new start because we've getting back to fundamentals in practice."

The Mocs would like to prove their effort at Charleston was not a one-time occurrence. But one week between games, especially finals week, is plenty of time for a basketball team to lose what was a good frame of mind.

In finals week, players are more mentally exhausted than physically tired, so Shulman knew to concentrate on physical play and drill work more than installing new plays and forcing players to think -- just play and get better.

"It feels like a month ago that we played because of the emotion of that game, the long ride back, and when you have finals, the whole world stops," Bell said. "We can't come back and not have that same intensity. I think we've done a good job and this break was good for us.

"Even though our minds aren't totally refreshed because of finals, we can start over again and say that Chattanooga is back."

Preparation designed specifically for Mercer barely began Friday, about 30 hours before tipoff with the Bears.

Mercer is already 2-0 against SoCon competition with a 20-point win at Furman and an 83-78 overtime victory at Samford on Wednesday.

"I think we're still a work in progress," Mercer coach Bob Hoffman said Thursday. "But I like where we are, especially with four sophomores and one senior. We have a lot of different kinds of talents and abilities. So far we've been able to mesh together very well.

"We play really good position defense, and if we can continue to hang our identity on that, the rest of the season will take care of itself."

• Most of the fall semester grades were in for the Mocs on Friday afternoon, but not all. Without knowing all results, Shulman simply stated, "Everybody is going on the trip to Mercer."