Break allows Mocs to focus on basketball

Break allows Mocs to focus on basketball

December 15th, 2012 by David Uchiyama in Sportscollege

UTC's Gee McGhee is helped off the ground by teammates Alex Bran, No. 14, and Drazen Zlovaric, No. 20, during a game against Eastern Kentucky Saturday at McKenzie Arena.

Photo by Alyson Wright/Times Free Press.

Their schedule is wide open this time of year.

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga basketball players eat, sleep, then practice, then eat, sleep and repeat on a daily basis during the winter break.

The schedule may fluctuate a little as to when practice begins. But for the next few weeks, without academics to worry about or fellow students on campus, they're living the life of professional basketball players. It's all about their sport.

"We're here, we have nothing to do, so we might as well use the time to get better," Mocs senior Drazen Zlovaric said. "We can really focus on things like shooting and free throws. In a two-hour practice, sometimes there's not enough time to put emphasis on those things."

Coach John Shulman called for a shooting session Thursday night after his players went through a midday practice and a weightlifting session.

Spending time in the gym -- either the Chattem Practice Facility or McKenzie Arena -- is almost a requirement this time of year. And for good reason.

The Mocs stink at shooting.

The fundamental principal of getting the orange ball through the orange circle has been a challenge for them.

The Mocs rank 11th out of 12 Southern Conference teams in shooting at 38.7 percent. They're 11th in free-throw shooting at 62.8 percent, which ranks them No. 302 in the nation.

They're last in 3-pointers made per game at 4.8, and last in the SoCon by making just 28.9 percent of their 3s, which ranks No. 293 in the country.

"We're not shooting that great, so just coming in and shooting can only help us," sophomore guard Ronrico White said. "It's very vital if we want to be conference champions at the end of the season."

The Mocs can make shots. They've proven the fact in practice but not games -- and that's the issue.

Shulman challenged freshman Eric Robertson to a game before a team meeting this week. Shulman made a point: Robertson can shoot.

If Robertson made a 3, he earned one point. If he missed, an imaginary Ray Allen earned two points.

Robertson came back from a 10-0 deficit and sank 21 of his next 25 3-pointers to win the challenge. Yes, 21 of 25.

"I was just shooting," the freshman said. "Coach said I'm passing up too many open shots. I understand now."