Looking forward: Martynas Bareika now a veteran leader at small forward for UTC basketball team

Looking forward: Martynas Bareika now a veteran leader at small forward for UTC basketball team

October 25th, 2012 by David Uchiyama in Sports - College

Martynas Bareika

Photo by Angela Lewis/Times Free Press.

SIX SPOTS IN SIX DAYS

A position-by-position preview of the 2012-13 basketball Mocs continues.

Tuesday: Centers

Wednesday: Power forwards

Today: Small forwards

Friday: Shooting guards

Saturday: Point guards

Sunday: Coaches and staff

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga coach John Shulman benched his starters for most of the second half when they trailed by 21 points at Appalachian State last season.

Martynas Bareika and the subs helped UTC pull within nine points with two minutes to play.

"I can brag about it all day," Bareika joked. "Coach put us young guys in, and we just played as hard as we can. That's what we did and we came back. I got a lot of experience in that game and felt good about my performance."

Bareika, who played in 12 games last year, will have a much more playing time this season at small forward now that Omar Wattad has graduated.

As a redshirt junior, he is the most veteran small forward on the squad that scrimmaged with SoCon officials calling the game on Wednesday.

"It all started at Appalachian last year," Shulman said. "He went out there and played hard for [15] straight minutes, and he was good. He's going to play like [Max] Paulhus Gosselin of Davidson.

"Marty is a tough guy. He just wants to play ball."

There's nothing but freshmen -- talented freshmen Shulman said -- behind Bareika in 6-foot-5 Casey Jones and 6-4 Eric Robertson who is also learning to play shooting guard.

That's resulting in a new role for Bareika (6-4) who used to hide in the background during practices and down the bench during games. He had few obligations while averaging 5.5 minutes, 1.2 points and 1.1 rebounds in his dozen games last year.

Now, he's a veteran.

"There's more responsibility," Bareika said. "There are young guys looking at you on the court."

Shulman had Wattad, a shooter playing small forward for much of the past two seasons. Neither Bareika nor Jones are similar to Wattad who averaged 12.1 points per game last year and launched 224 3-pointers in 32 games.

"There are two guys that have good size, good length, who will destroy the offensive boards, who don't live and die by the 3-point shot to define their game in Casey and Marty," Shulman said. "We're counting on both to give us defense, rebounding, offensive rebounding and a little scoring.

"It's a completely different three-man than we've had the last two years. They're not going to live and die through the 3-point line. That's not happening anymore. That is in the past."

Bareika is the present at the position while Jones and Robertson are the future.

"Defense is my most important job," Jones said. "Coach wants us to just play our game. It's simple - play the game and have fun."