ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga basketball team is one season removed from playing in the NCAA Tournament.

But matching up against top-seeded UConn seems like decades ago after a 6-12 SoCon campaign, a quarter-finals exit in the SoCon tournament, and getting placed on probation by the NCAA.

Coach John Shulman has enjoyed the preseason so far, he's called the team unselfish and isn't too worried about his offense. The defense though, which he always harps on, is questionable.

Here are five other questions for the Mocs.

If You Go

What: UTC Basketball

Who: Mocs vs. Tennessee Wesleyan in an exhibition.

Time: 8 p.m.

Tickets: $10 lower reserved, $5 upper level GA, students are free, and parking is regular price.

Quickly: The Mocs held a closed scrimmage at Ole Miss where they were competitive, and TWC has already beat 94-52.

Question No. 1 -- Who are the new faces and what do they add? Omar Wattad, a transfer from Georgetown is the biggest addition to this roster. He should start for most of the season at one of the wing positions because he brings an offensive punch, strength to hit the glass and a tenacious attitude. Freshman point guard Martynas Bareika is currently third on the depth cart, but could move up by the season's end. Junior college transfer Jahmal Burroughs should develop into a Kevin Goffney type player at power forward. Micah Ballard and sophomore Drew Baker will redshirt.

Question No. 2 -- Who provides the depth?

Shulman wasn't set on his starters for tonight before Wednesday's practice. Four he knew -- Keegan Bell, Omar Wattad, Chris Early and DeAntre Jefferson. The other wing spot is open for tonight. And it could be a revolving door there with Ricky Taylor and Josh Odem in the mix, so they're fine at the wing. They seem to be OK at the post with an improved 7-foot-1 Jeremy Saffore and a stronger Sam Watson off the bench. But if Bell gets in foul trouble or needs to ride the pine, it will be tough for Dontay Hampton or Bareika to fill his shoes.

Question No. 3 -- What's different with a new assistant on staff?

Former UT-Martin assistant coach Jay Bowen joined the staff after former assistant David Conrady accepted a position with Score International. Bowen's impact will be felt more on the road than at home. His primary job is recruiting, specifically the greater Memphis region and down into Mississippi and Alabama. But he has dissected games from recent years an offered his tweaks to the offense. Those boil down to -- running.

Question No. 4 -- What's up with the "Fire?"

"Fire" is a defense that Shulman implements to reduce scoring from the post. But per the name, it fires up fans because while it limits post scoring, opponents can easily earn open looks from the 3-point line. It's a half-court defense that double-teams a post player when he gets the ball and turns the other three defenders into zone defense defenders looking to intercept any pass out of the post. The defense works, in theory. And yes, Shulman has begun teaching that defense to his team.

Question No. 5 -- Can UTC go 3-for-3 in SoCon tourney at home?

Maybe. Somewhere in Las Vegas, somebody has odds on teams to win the Southern Conference championship. It's not likely that UTC is the favorite. However, they're not the long-shot either. The last two times that the Mocs have advanced to the NCAA tournament, they did so by winning the tournament not only in their home city, but on their home court.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT