The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga men's basketball team is in the North Division basement of the Southern Conference. The Citadel is in the South Division basement.
UTC hosts the Bulldogs tonight at 7 in McKenzie Arena. Call it the SoCon Basement Brawl.
It's no surprise that the Bulldogs (4-22, 1-14) are in sixth place. That's where they were picked in the preseason because they have no seniors and only two juniors: Mike Groselle and C.J. Bray.
It's a different story for the Mocs (10-18, 4-11). They were picked to finish first in the North, and they start four seniors and a junior.
"Record-wise, we've both been struggling this year, but The Citadel lost a whole lot," UTC senior point guard Keegan Bell said. "Our expectation was No. 1 and we're No. 6. That adds to the frustration and puts heat on you.
"They're just as hungry as we are to get a win. We'll both be getting after it."
The Mocs have lost nine of their last 10 games, the exception being an 83-75 defeat of second-place Elon that halted a seven-game losing streak.
"We've been so concerned about the end result that we haven't done the process very good," said UTC coach John Shulman, who noted that reserve guard Dontay Hampton has been cleared to play after requiring medical treatment Wednesday night.
"The last three games we haven't done the process very good," Shulman said. "We have to focus on the process."
Both UTC and The Citadel are coming off painful losses in the North Carolina mountains.
Shulman benched his starters four minutes into the second half in a 79-70 loss at Appalachian State on Wednesday.
Citadel coach Chuck Driesell questioned the Bulldogs' effort after they allowed 28 offensive rebounds while grabbing a total of 27 rebounds in a 70-53 loss at Western Carolina on Thursday.
"I was surprised," Driesell said Friday before practice in McKenzie Arena. "To come out and play the way we did, I was very surprised and disappointed, and I think our guys were as well. Hopefully that won't happen again."
Driesell opened practice, after a few warm-up drills, with a three-on-three rebounding session. Groselle, who leads the SoCon with 9.6 rebounds per game and is second in scoring at 16.9 points a game, didn't mind one bit.
"He's just outworking people," Shulman said. "Every team would love to have a Groselle on their team."
Like former Wofford center Noah Dahlman, Groselle has learned the angles and is always aggressive.
"I've been playing pretty consistent," said Groselle, who has 13 double-doubles this season. "But that's not a big deal if we're not winning."
The Citadel has lost 11 straight games.
"I could write a book about the season," Driesell said. "It's never easy, whether you're expected to win or not."
While Groselle has been a constant force and accounts for more than 25 percent of the Bulldogs' scoring, no one has been a solid sidekick.
"Mike has been as consistent as one player can be," Driesell said. "That has been an Achilles' heel for us. We haven't had [another] consistent player all year. Guys have had nights but haven't backed it up."
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 ...