Offseason prep ensures in-season rest for Chattanooga Mocs

Offseason prep ensures in-season rest for Chattanooga Mocs

January 27th, 2014 by David Uchiyama in Sports - College

UTC guard Casey Jones dribbles to the basket during their game against UNCG at McKenzie Arena in January.

Photo by Erin O. Smith/Times Free Press.

Sundays are a day of rest for University of Tennessee at Chattanooga basketball players during the heart of the Southern Conference season.

It's a day of work for the head coach.

Will Wade cleared out his in-box crammed with congratulatory notes, replied to text-messages that began flowing after a win on Thursday, crunched UTC's efficiency numbers like a mathematician, examined Davidson's statistics, and laid out practice plans for the week all before noon.

There's no time for the first-year coach of a team that has won 10 straight games and opened the Southern Conference season with eight straight wins to sit back and relax.

Every day is a work day.

"I try to clean up a lot of stuff, I do a lot of recruiting calls on Sunday, a lot of maintenance stuff and get the table set for the week and what need to move forward," Wade said. "It's a day where we have a lot of time to think."

The players do some thinking too on Sundays.

But not about their last game, which this weekend, was a 77-67 win over UNCG before the largest McKenzie Arena crowd in five seasons.

Their thinking comes at 6 p.m. when the team gathers for a study-hall session. Every player, no matter their academic success, attends Sunday study-hall. They were scheduled to be out in time to watch the Grammy Music Awards or most of the NFL Pro-Bowl.

Wade had other plans for his evening -- work watching video of second-place Davidson (10-11, 6-1 SoCon) who the Mocs (14-8, 8-0) will face on Thursday in Belk Arena.

"The Grammys are tonight? Which one are they -- music or movies," Wade said, suggesting that his Sunday nights during the season are not open for hours of entertainment.

"I probably won't watch the Super Bowl," he said. "I haven't watched the last couple, and we've got to play at Eastern Kentucky that next Tuesday."

The Mocs will likely be off the Sunday before that game too. The UTC players have had more time off from practice during the SoCon season than they did during non-conference competition.

There's a reason for rest.

With games being played on Thursdays and Saturdays, UTC has settled into a routine of taking Sunday and Monday off from practice, working for about 75 minutes as a team on Tuesday, practicing for about 60 minutes on Wednesday, playing Thursday followed by a 45-minute walk-through on Friday before a Saturday game.

"It's counter-intuitive to my thought of work, work, work," Wade said. "But it's been good for our guys. I think that they appreciate we are concerned about their bodies and where they are in terms of having clear minds and fresh legs."

The combination of shorter practices and extensive offseason training -- including three mornings with a Navy SEAL -- has helped UTC during its current win steak by winning the back end of Thursday-Saturday scheduling and by pulling away from teams in the final minutes.

During UTC's 10-game winning streak, the Mocs have trailed in the final five minutes in only one game -- at The Citadel. On Saturday against the Spartans, UNCG's last lead came with 6:32 to play.

"We worked hard in the summer," said sophomore Casey Jones, who led UTC with 22 points against UNCG. "All that work in the summer is showing. We want to keep it going.

"Like Coach said, this game was won in June, July and August."

That's allowed the players -- but not the coaching staff -- to have a little more time to rest during an undefeated January.

Contact David Uchiyama at duchiyama@timesfreepress.com or at 423-757-6484. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/UchiyamaCTFP