Spalding is the official basketball of the NBA.
Spalding University is an NCAA Division III school that will play the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in basketball tonight in McKenzie Arena.
The lettering on the front of Spalding's jersey doesn't matter to UTC's Mocs. With just two wins in nine games, they need a win.
Regardless of whether they win by 10, 20, 30 or 40, the Mocs need to show progress and improvement. They need to show it to themselves.
"We're struggling and trying to get a win, and these days, no matter the division, anybody can beat you," senior point guard Keegan Bell said. "We're a struggling basketball team, and we couldn't overlook a high school team if we were playing a high school team.
"We have to do what we do, and I'm sure Spalding is going to bring it."
The Mocs' two wins have come against Savannah State by four points and against Warren Wilson, which competes on a level lower than the NAIA.
"We have to approach every game the same, as if we're playing Kentucky or a Southern Conference game," UTC senior Ricky Taylor said. "We have to have a killer instinct, a killer mentality. We have to execute and do the things that Chattanooga needs to do to be successful."
The Mocs were not successful Saturday in a 67-56 loss to the Bears. UTC could have won the game but didn't, because the Mocs missed critical free throws -- the front end of all three bonus attempts -- and struggled to score after getting 17 points in the first eight minutes.
"Looking back at the Mercer game, we did some nice things defensively and OK things offensively," coach John Shulman said. "It became a grind offensively. We're in one of those funks.
"Hopefully we can get some easy looks at the basket."
Spalding is coached by former UTC player Kevin Gray, who was the Mocs' MVP in 1976 and later joined the coaching staff. Nevertheless, the Mocs should bounce Spalding like an orange leather Spalding right out of McKenzie Arena.
The talent gap between a Southern Conference squad like UTC and Division III is greater than the difference between UTC and Kentucky, which is the Mocs' next opponent Saturday. And Spalding won't even be at full strength.
"We won't have our real team here," Gray said. "Four of our guys, for one reason or another, won't play. I wish I could bring my best team."
Contact David Uchiyama at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6484. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/UchiyamaCTFP.
David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...