published Friday, November 11th, 2011

Mocs intending longer possessions

There is no official statistic in college basketball for time of possession.

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga men's coach John Shulman can guarantee that his team would have lost that statistical matchup in almost every game last year.

And he's aiming to change that this season, beginning Sunday when the Mocs play at Indiana University at 5 p.m.

"I'm telling you, last year we played about 10 minutes of offense and 30 minutes of defense," said. "It's a pain: Nobody likes to guard, but it's a necessary evil. Everybody likes to play offense, so let's play offense. I'm not saying hold the ball, but let's play for more than four or six seconds; let's play inside-out."

In basketball, if a team isn't on offense, those same five players are on defense, squatting in a stance, reacting to the ball and their man instead of dictating the action.

"We've opened up the offense. We're going to share it more and it's going to come back," senior Omar Wattad said. "It's better for everybody because everybody is going to get better shots."

Wattad took an ill-advised 3-pointer in UTC's scrimmage at Virginia Tech last Saturday. Shulman instantly put him on the bench.

The Mocs are deeper on the wing this year than last season due to the development of junior Dontay Hampton and the infusion of freshmen Ronrico White, Lance Stokes and redshirt Martynas Bareika.

"It was all good," Wattad said. "I understood where he was coming from. We have to have good shot selection."

The Mocs attempted 46.3 percent of their field-goal tries last year from behind the 3-point arc and shot only 32.2 percent from out there. UTC averaged 23.1 free throws per game in a 16-16 season.

When the Mocs won the Southern Conference tournament in 2009, only 41 percent of their shot were from behind the arc, and they shot 26.7 freebies per game.

Senior Ricky Taylor, who is being pushed for playing time by White and Stokes, has noticed in practice the difference of making an extra pass and taking more time off the 35-second shot clock.

"I think it's going to help us out against good defenses," said Taylor, who has a big blue championship ring from 2009. "I love it more this year. It's going to increase our shooting percentages and make our assists go up."

But can they do it, especially in the first game of the year, on the road, in one of the most storied houses in college basketball where five national championship banners hang?

"Most important Sunday is that we play in character," Shulman said. "If we get down 10-0 at IU, it's important that we don't panic, start jacking it and get back to last year."

Mocs sign point

Farad Cobb of Summit Christian School in West Palm Beach, Fla., signed his scholarship papers on Thursday. ESPN.com rates Cobb as No. 49 on its list of point guards in the country. He averaged 22.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5.6 assists per game last season.

With senior point guard Keegan Bell set to graduate, Cobb will have an opportunity to compete for UTC's starting job as a freshman.

"Farad has got a real chance to be a special player here," Shulman said. "The ability to score, to handle the ball, to play off ball-screens, to guard, to be a winner impress me. He fits how we play. The opportunity to play as a freshman was pretty important."

about David Uchiyama...

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 ...

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