UTC coaches plan routines for exhibitions

UTC coaches plan routines for exhibitions

November 1st, 2011 by David Uchiyama in Sports - College

Ronrico White takes practice shots before UTC basketball practice at McKenzie Arena.

Ronrico White takes practice shots before UTC basketball...

Photo by Alex Washburn /Times Free Press.

They're exhibitions.

The doubleheader games do not count tonight.

Yet the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga basketball coaches plan to treat this as any other game day.

The Lady Mocs face Lee University at 5 p.m., and the Mocs will play Tennessee Wesleyan about 30 minutes after the women's contest ends in McKenzie Arena.

It's also an educational day. For example, the five first-year players on John Shulman's men's team will learn the pregame routine they will follow throughout the season.

It includes a curfew of 11 the night before, going to classes, participating in a shoot-around (unless class is scheduled then), attending the pregame meal and arriving at McKenzie Arena about 90 minutes before tipoff.

Then there's the pregame warmup, speeches, layup line, introductions and little nuances such as everybody on the bench standing up and clapping for those taking a seat.

"It's a new routine that we have to learn. It's kind of like high school, but it's different," said freshman guard Ronrico White, who likely will be one of the first Mocs off the bench based on his preseason practice success.

"It's very important to learn, because what people don't understand is that it's a full-day process," junior Dontay Hampton said. "The game is about getting your feet wet and seeing where you are, getting to run sets against other teams and having refs."

Shulman and Lady Mocs coach Wes Moore have similar goals for tonight. In no particular order, they are to win the game, keep everybody healthy, get newcomers some experience and see how sharp the veterans are playing.

"I want to see how some of the younger players are going to respond and see if we have matured as a team," Moore said. "You want to see how they handle it when the lights come on. And I want to find out what kind of combinations are going to work."

Shulman has four returning starters from last year -- including guard Omar Wattad, who has been injured and is 50/50 to start -- and he knows what they can do. But he doesn't know how the newcomers will play when facing competition in a different jersey. The Mocs' next test after tonight will be at Virginia Tech in a closed scrimmage.

So he wants to see how White, Trey Brown, Jared Bryant and Zaccheus Mason will play against another team.

"It gets us in the right mindset of preparing for a game," Shulman said. "We're going to play to win the game, but I have to get these young kids on the floor, I have to get Mason and Drazen [Zlovaric] on the floor just to get some experience."

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