CHARLESTON, S.C. - The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga basketball Mocs have a new requirement this season during road trips.
The team hotel must have an indoor pool.
It's not so the Mocs can play "Marco Polo" or splash around like 10-year-old kids on family vacations at such places as Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Charleston. It's to help the players physically recover from one game and get ready for follow-up games in a short turnaround.
The pool workouts, along with other tricks developed by strength coach Greg Goldin and head athletic trainer Todd Bullard, seem to have paid off, most recently with an 82-78 win at The Citadel on Monday.
"We changed up our road routine," first-year coach Will Wade explained. "We've been doing massages. There's a lot of little pieces that go into making something like this [winning the back end of a trip].
"Our margins are small and you have to press your margins. It pays dividends on nights like this."
Except for a loss at longtime power UCLA, the Mocs (8-8, 2-0) are 3-0 in games played within 48 hours after others. Monday against the Bulldogs, UTC trailed by 12 in the second minute of the second half. Then senior Zaccheus Mason scored 24 of his 30 points in the final 18 minutes. He also grabbed 13 rebounds and blocked six shots in his 37 minutes and was named Tuesday the Southern Conference men's player of the week.
"Last year, I couldn't have played 37 minutes," Mason said. "We've talked about the second half of road trips. Last year, my numbers fell off from fatigue. You can tell through my numbers that working with Greg and the preparation before the season helped me bounce back.
"Hopefully I can bring that newfound energy to the back half of trips."
Goldin, whose official title at UTC is assistant director of Olympic sports, spent the offseason preparing the players for Wade's system, including three early mornings of Navy SEAL training. Now that games have started, a big part of his responsibility is preparing players to play up to their maximum physical potential.
"In the offseason, I'm the strength coach and I'm the grizzly bear," Goldin said. "In season, I have to be the papa bear."
The pool sessions involve a warmup, some low-impact exercise, self-massage, work with a pipe roller and flexibility drills.
"The guys seem to really take it up and enjoy it," Goldin said. "I give them the blueprint. It's their effort and discipline to stay with what we give them.
"We give them the keys, and whatever makes their body feel good, I'll cater to that."
Senior Ronrico White has a special treatment -- including time with Bullard, the director of sports medicine -- to help with his repaired hip. He had offseason surgery to repair the labrum and other tissue, forcing him to miss UTC's first eight games.
"I don't think [Mason] gets tired anymore," White joked. "We have to credit Coach Goldin. He's our readiness coach now. He makes sure we're ready to go all-out every game."
Especially after they've gone for a dip in the pool.
Contact David Uchiyama at email@example.com or 423-757-6484. Follow him at twitter.com/UchiyamaCTFP.