published Saturday, October 29th, 2011

Blue-Gold Tipoff fun today

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga officials will have rosters ready before the third annual Blue-Gold Tipoff basketball event today in the First Tennessee Pavilion.

Mocs fans are going to need the lists to identify the 13 combined newcomers who will be playing for men's coach John Shulman and women's coach Wes Moore.

"It's a good thing we have a few old faces, too," Shulman quipped before practice Friday.

The unique event, scheduled to start about 11:45, provides patrons their first glimpse of the 2011-12 basketball Mocs and Lady Mocs before the 2 p.m. football game at adjacent Finley Stadium.

And the players get their first chance to make a first impression in a low-pressure environment with no opponent. It's more about the fun and fan interaction than about the basketball.

A dunk contest is scheduled with freshmen Trey Brown and Ronrico White and veterans Chris Early and Drazen Zlovaric, who cracked up the crowd last year by doing a little Russian dance.

"It has no affiliation with Serbia whatsoever, but when I say I'm from Serbia, people think I'm Russian so I do that dance just to spice it up," Zlovaric said. "My teammates like it. This event allows us to get in a relaxed mode and goof around a bit."

There will be shooting contests and "who knows what else," as Shulman put it.

"We may invite everybody on the court to play against us," he joked. "We've played around with some unique concepts. There's no stress or pressure. It's having fun with the fans."

But a few of the freshmen, including Brown and Jared Bryant, admitted they'll be a little nervous for their debut.

"I'm kind of excited and kind of nervous, and I hope we put on a good show," Brown said. "I'll get a couple dunks in and get people up. I'm new to the fans out here."

Senior guard Omar Wattad is questionable to participate in the festivities because of a strained lower back. According to Shulman, he's also questionable to play in the exhibition game Tuesday against Tennessee Wesleyan.

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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