Formerly injured UTC Mocs have fresh legs

Formerly injured UTC Mocs have fresh legs

February 26th, 2013 by David Uchiyama in Sportscollege

Casey Jones dribbles the ball down the court.

Photo by Alyson Wright/Times Free Press.

Lance Stokes (3) of UTC pulls down a rebound in the first half against Samford Monday at McKenzie Area.

Photo by Robin Rudd/Times Free Press.

Ice baths are a requirement several days a week for University of Tennessee at Chattanooga basketball players.

Soaking their legs -- or even their whole bodies -- in a mixture of ice and water helps rejuvenate players after strenuous practices in a season that already is 29 games long.

But Lance Stokes and Casey Jones don't need them.

They're more refreshed, after missing significant time due to injury, than most players in the Southern Conference, which could pay dividends as UTC heads on the road to conclude the regular season at Western Carolina and Appalachian State with hope for a bye in the SoCon tournament.

"I was telling Coach [John Shulman] that I don't need an ice bath and that I could play another game right then," Jones said. "I'm fresh. I don't have to slow down in games, and I don't have to save anything."

The injuries to Jones and Stokes -- who both play the small forward position with Stokes going to power forward at times -- hurt the Mocs (12-17, 7-9) while they were out but could benefit them the rest of the way, including the tournament.

"In tournament times we'll be playing back to back to back," said Jones, a freshman. "I haven't played a lot, so I can go hard every single day."

He broke his right tibia near the knee and hobbled around on crutches for six weeks before returning four games ago. Stokes, a sophomore, missed almost two months after breaking his foot. He returned on Jan. 17.

"It was kind of good, in a way, to get a bit of rest in the season, I guess," Stokes said. "With the time off I had time to rest, and I think that's helping me not hit the wall. I know it's called a 'freshman wall,' but it can hit anybody."

At the time of season when most players have weary legs, impacting jump shots and horizontal defending, Jones and Stokes play a little quicker than others.

"Casey should have legs, and so should Lance," Shulman said. "We'll need those guys."

On the other hand, UTC freshman Gee McGhee and junior forward Zaccheus Mason should be exhausted. McGhee, a candidate for SoCon freshman of the year, leads the Mocs with an average of 29.3 minutes per game and Mason is second at 27.2, and each has played in every game this season.

Additionally, neither has had a substitute to play his position in practice for most of the season, which has added to their mileage meter. Yet Mason is tied for fourth and McGhee is tied for ninth in scoring in conference games.

"They don't have a sub in practice, so after a while your legs are done," Shulman said. "But they keep going. Gee has got a big boost from Casey because they compete with each other in a game."