A time to travel home.
A time to breath.
And for some members of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga men's basketball program, Wednesday and today are a time to shop.
The Mocs entered their brief Christmas break with a 10-2 record. Their successful start includes road wins over Georgia and Dayton, a semi-road win over Illinois — the Illini's home court is in Champaign, but due to renovations, the game was played in Springfield, Ill. — and Tuesday's home win against Radford, which has beaten Penn State and Georgetown this season.
UTC first-year coach Matt McCall put the most recent victory in the same category as the three aforementioned, saying he wouldn't be surprised to "see (Radford) in the NCAA tournament."
"With our schedule and our record now, I couldn't be happier and more pleased with how our guys handled everything up to this point," McCall said.
Some of the Mocs headed home soon after their 77-75 win against the Highlanders, while others who had longer trips left Wednesday morning. They'll all regroup Saturday to begin preparing for Tuesday's game at Lipscomb.
"I just want all of our players to go home, enjoy some time with their families and get back safely. I'm going to enjoy time with my two daughters," said McCall, the father to 2-year-old Brooklyn and Kylie, who was born Sept. 7.
"As a coach, you don't have a lot of time, but I don't want to miss any Santa Claus moments. Maybe a smile and a nice meal from my wife. I'm blessed, so I don't want anything in particular for Christmas but for the guys to enjoy this time with family and get back safely."
Still to be done, though, was one daunting task.
McCall admitted Tuesday that he hadn't done much of his Christmas shopping. Neither had point guard Greg Pryor, who was heading home to Memphis on Wednesday morning to start that process.
"I have not bought not one gift," Pryor said. "I might need to get on that as soon as I get home. I'll do that and try to get off my feet and try to get my legs back under me. Just try to get as much rest as I can."
UTC senior guard Eric Robertson was named the Southern Conference student-athlete of the week on Wednesday, his second time being honored with the award.
The 6-foot-4 guard averaged 13 points and 3.5 assists in the Mocs' wins over Kennesaw State and Radford. He had 15 points on five 3-pointers in last Friday's win against the Owls, then followed that up with 11 points and a career-high five assists against the Highlanders.
He is shooting 53.1 percent (17-for-32) from 3-point range for the season.
The nonprofit management major has a 3.73 grade point average, was an Academic All-SoCon honoree as a junior and was named to the SoCon honor roll his first two seasons.
Contact Gene Henley at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @genehenleytfp.