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UTC forward Lance Stokes lays the ball up during basketball practice Tuesday at McKenzie Arena.

Will Wade calls it a "Winners World."

It's one of his most commonly used phrases to his University of Tennessee at Chattanooga men's basketball team, and for players who pride themselves on their defensive capabilities, that winning mentality is going to have to show itself in practice.

Tuesday afternoon, it was the Blue team that came out victorious.

The six-member team of Greg Pryor, Alex Bran, Tre McLean, Casey Jones, Lance Stokes and Duke Ethridge got the upper hand on the Gold team in a myriad of drills during a two-hour practice at McKenzie Arena. As a result, the Gold team had to get in plank position after practice.

"Nobody wants to be on the team that loses," Stokes said after practice. "We're all so competitive."

It's because of Stokes' communication on the defensive end that his team is usually the one that ends up on the winning side, according to Wade.

"It's his best quality," Wade said. "He's constantly getting guys in the right position where they're supposed to be. He's got his guys on the same page, and that's invaluable to this team."

Communication started from the beginning of practice -- from the competitive shooting drills to the stretching and throughout the rest of practice. And even if there is a failure or a breakdown somewhere down the line, Wade feels the overall height and reach could help clean some of that up.

"Length covers up mistakes," he said. "It'll cover it up even more when we have 5 (Justin Tuoyo) in the middle. We have to have length to play the way we want to play."

The 6-foot-10 Tuoyo was limited in practice with a hand injury. That left the Mocs with three healthy forwards Tuesday: Stokes, Ethridge and Chuck Ester. Martynas Bareika also spent time playing post defense, but Stokes said that no matter who is being filtered in and out, he has faith in what the Mocs are capable of doing.

"It's just my job to be a leader and help the other guys understand what they're trying to do," he said. "It's not like they don't understand what's going on. We have new faces, but we have prepared guys.

"It's a collective effort."

Contact Gene Henley at ghenley@timesfreepress.com. Follow him at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.

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