SPARTANBURG, S.C. - Fresh thoughts and observations from the Mocs' 71-57 win at Wofford on Saturday.
That's as dominant of a performance I've seen by any UTC men's team over Wofford since former Terriers coach Richard Johnson had his team doing a 4-on-4 shell drill at halftime when the Mocs had Henry Dickerson as head coach.
Truth be told, I don't remember anything about UTC's 88-64 win in 2005.
UTC controlled the tempoSaturday. It executed offensive sets resulting in good shots and 32 free throws. And UTC's defense limited Wofford to 33.9 percent from the floor -- Wofford's worst performance at home this season and topped only in games at Minnesota (31 percent) and at High Point (33.3 percent).
As folks in the greater Chattanooga area wake up this morning, UTC is in a position nobody in the area would have expected at Thanksgiving -- undefeated at 6-0 in the Southern Conference.
It sets up a huge game Thursday between Elon (10-9, 3-1) -- the team picked in the preseason by many pundits to finish first -- and UTC, which is currently in first.
One week between
I think the short time -- one week -- between the two teams playing each other (and with Wofford not playing anybody else in the interim) had an impact on the flow of the game, especially in the first half.
Both coaches, Will Wade for UTC and Mike Young for Wofford, made some changes from last week that were obvious early in the game.
Wofford ran more of its motion offense, fronted Zaccheus Mason in the post and limited the touches for Casey Jones. UTC double-teamed forward Lee Skinner from either the passer or a cutter, played more man-to-man than 2-3 zone, and used Gee McGhee a little more.
When UTC had to run a play instead of trying to get points in transition, Wade barked out terms from his vocabulary -- double, hook, twist, loop, slide, runner -- like Peyton Manning at the line of scrimmage.
I know Wade changed one play just for this game. And it worked because he had Mason fake setting a screen on the right side, then set it to the left resulting in a 3-pointer by Eric Robertson less than five minutes into the game.
Both coaches downplayed my theory that this was a tactical game with them moving chess pieces and having more involvement than they do in most games.
I think both coaches had a big impact on the first half and how it played out. Young called things that flustered UTC's defense at times, but his players missed shots or failed to contain UTC's continual driving pressure to the paint. The veteran coach also countered Wade's plans to get Mason the ball on several occasions.
If Wade is coaching something close to step-for-step with Young, as Wade has done for two games, Wade is doing more than a few things right.
Follow-up: A quote that says a lot
"It was tough. Chattanooga did a really good job against us this time, and they were anticipating our plays before we even ran them. Give them a lot of credit."
Those words come from Karl Cochran, the Terriers' leading scorer with 19 points, who gave that quote to GoUpState.com Wofford beat writer Todd Shanesy in this story: http://www.goupstate.com/article/20140118/articles/140119640?p=2&tc=pg#gsc.tab=0
I spied ...
UTC strength coach Greg Goldin: He has many roles in his official title as director of athletic performance. I'm adding another title: Get-Back Coach. Like a football coach who keeps players on the sideline to stay behind the line, Goldin stretched his arms to keep guys on the bench from jumping on the floor just an inch to celebrate big plays.
Danny Morrison: He was the Wofford athletic director from 1985 to 2001, when he became the commissioner of the SoCon for five years. He then spent five years as the AD at Southern Methodist. Continuing the trend, he just finished his fifth year as president of the Carolina Panthers. (I didn't tell Morrison that I'm a fan of the 49ers, who bounced his team from the playoffs last weekend. Sorry, Danny.)
A coffee spot: Benjamin Johnson Arena is just a few steps from a JavaCity whose entrance is shared with the arena. Thank goodness for good coffee.