Walk-ons will start for Mocs

Walk-ons will start for Mocs

November 20th, 2011 by David Uchiyama in Sports - College

UTC forward Omar Watted misses a layup over Kennesaw State guard Romain Henry in the second half Friday night at McKenzie Arena. UTC lost the game 59-65. Photo by Matt Fields-Johnson

John Shulman felt so sick Thursday that he missed practice that day and the pregame shoot-around Friday.

He felt worse after a 65-59 loss to Kennesaw State. So he made significant changes Saturday morning in his starting lineup and the Mocs' base offense in advance of Monday's game against Warren Wilson.

"You'll see a different lineup on Monday, a lineup that has earned their way in there," Shulman said. "It will shock some people."

Senior shooting guard Ricky Taylor will begin the game on the bench, and junior walk-on Dontay Hampton will take his spot. Senior power forward Chris Early will join Taylor on the sideline with sophomore walk-on Drew Baker taking his spot in the rotation.

"I am not doing this to wake guys up," Shulman said. "They're seniors; they shouldn't be woken up. If you don't feel like playing, sit down. I respect the name on the front of the jersey to much, to see what happened last night -- to see that again."

The Mocs, Shulman said, laid an egg against KSU's Owls. They were lethargic on offense and settled for 25 3-point attempts on 55 shots. They were lazy on defense and 18 fast-break points.

"You judge how your team looks on how your team looks," Shulman said. "You can't tell me we lost at Butler. But say Omar [Wattad] hits a late 3 last night, we get back within one. No matter what, we lost last night.

"I don't think the lineup we had last night would look good against Warren Wilson or Tyner High School."

Hampton started two games last season and played in all 32 contests. He averaged 3.1 points and 1.2 rebounds while making a total of 29 field goals.

Baker redshirted last season. His only game experience came in 15 minutes against Virginia Intermont and five minutes against Tennessee Temple in 2009 and one minute at Indiana in last week's season opener. Former UTC point guard Keyron Sheard watched most of Saturday's practice and said Baker looked like a starter and figured an injury was keeping him out of the rotation.

"Drew has earned it," Shulman said. "He's been good in every scrimmage, but I haven't given him a chance. This is not brain surgery. This is busting your tail end and playing for the name on the front of the jersey and not the back. Drew will give us Butler-like effort, and so will Tay."

Shulman switched the Mocs' motion offense back to a similar version of what it ran last year with several ball-screens per possession.

"I've been trying to put a square peg in a round hole," Shulman said. "We can still play inside-out, the difference in Drazen [Zlovaric] catching it going to the basket.

"It's not a huge change, but, boy, we were pretty good today. Maybe averaging [71.1] a game last year wasn't so bad considering we can't break 60."