Mocs, Bulldogs both rebuilding

Mocs, Bulldogs both rebuilding

January 5th, 2013 by David Uchiyama in Sports - College

Chattanooga head coach John Shulman talks from the sideline.

Photo by Contributed Photo

Samford's Bennie Seltzer is one of two first-year men's basketball head coaches in the Southern Conference.

John Shulman has led the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga to a 137-136 record in eight-plus seasons.

Yet the two men have a common bond this season - rebuilding.

"I think the similarity is that both teams have to learn each other," Seltzer said. "Coach Shulman has to learn his players, they have to learn who he is, and that's the same for me. My players have to learn who I am, and I have to learn my players.

"Both teams are similar."

UTC (5-9, 0-1) will square off tonight at 8 EST in the Hanna Center against Samford (3-11, 1-0) to start the bulk of their SoCon schedules.

Samford went 11-19 overall and 8-10 in the SoCon before firing Jimmy Tillette and hiring Seltzer, who spent three seasons helping Tom Crean rebuild the Indiana University program -- now No. 5 in the country -- from the rubble left behind by Kelvin Sampson.

After going 11-21, 5-13 in the SoCon, UTC brought in five freshmen and has four new starters and one new assistant coach.

"There's no quick fix to having a great team, and that's one thing I've taken from my IU experience," Seltzer said. "We never tried to do it quickly or plug holes. Eventually you'll have a team that fits your identity.

"We did not have to start from absolute ground zero here at Samford. But it's a process."

Shulman said he's enjoyed the process of building his 2012-13 team more than coaching the four-senior squad of last year. That team failed to live up to its projection of at least a SoCon North Division championship.

"Samford is completely new, and Bennie changed personnel, style and everything, so there are no similarities between last year and this year," said Shulman, who is 6-3 against the Bulldogs. "You get caught in getting mad at the process sometimes. We all know you have to go through the process. He came from IU, and I don't think he had a lot of fun in the process of helping them becoming one of the best teams in the country.

"But the process is not rush-able."

The process of coaching a new team -- for both Seltzer and Shulman -- continues tonight.

They'd both like to win. It would help in seeding at the SoCon tournament in March.

Yet progress for both teams is paramount to winning one league game in early January.

"Getting everybody used to running our offense and team defense and getting the team concept has been the main thing," UTC junior forward Zaccheus Mason said. "For Samford, it's probably about them buying into their coach's concepts and getting used to his style of play.

"I know he doesn't run the Princeton."

Seltzer and Shulman are both in the process of transition. For one, it's away from the Princeton offense the Bulldogs ran for years under Tillette. For the other, it's just away from last year's disappointment.