published Thursday, January 26th, 2012

UTC looks to snap three-game slide

  • photo
    Coach John Shulman directs the UTC Mocs men's basketball team at McKenzie Arena.
    Photo by Tim Barber /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

John Shulman rolled down his window Tuesday and asked the officer a question.

‘“What county am I in?’” Shulman recalled Wednesday.

The officer, who pulled Shulman over for speeding at 62 miles per hour in a 45-mph construction zone, told him “Van Buren County.”

Shulman said: “I should have known.

“I’ve supported the economy up there for a long time. I said, ‘Here you go, here’s my name and number, so just build another wing on the gym for me.’”

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga basketball coach drove up and back to visit the family of assistant coach Brent Jolly, who lost his father, Kenneth, on Sunday.

The death of Mr. Jolly adds to what has already been a turbulent season for the Mocs, who will face Davidson tonight at 7 in McKenzie Arena.

The speeding ticket was just another punch in a season of body-blows. The Mocs (9-12, 3-5 SoCon) have lost their last three games — all were winnable in the final minutes. UTC trailed at Samford by one with five minutes to play, trailed UNC Greensboro by two with one minute to play and missed a potential game-tying 3 in the waning seconds at Elon.

The Mocs are now in fifth place out of six teams in the Southern Conference North Division standings.

“We’re not feeling great about ourselves,” Shulman said. “We need something good to happen to us.

“We’ve had our hearts broken in the last three games.”

The result is not “doom and gloom,” in the locker room as much as a feeling of opportunity lost.

The Mocs were business-like Wednesday at practice. It was a stark contrast to just two weeks ago when the Mocs were coming off a stretch of three straight SoCon wins and enjoying the momentum and blaring music in the locker room.

“Two weeks ago we were on a high,” sophomore Zaccheus Mason said. “We’ve lost a lot of close games. They came down to defensive stands, and it’s conference play so that’s how it is, but we have to find the will to get us over the top.”

“Everyone is ready to play because the past couple have been close and we should have won,” Dontay Hampton said. “With a couple different plays here or there, we’d be in a totally different mood.”

Despite the recent swing in momentum and struggles in the standings, there is some good news. UTC gets to play SoCon frontrunner Davidson (14-4, 8-0) at McKenzie Arena, where the Mocs are 9-2 this season.

“As disappointed as we are, we’re OK,” senior Omar Wattad said. “We know how good we are.

“Davidson is coming to our house, and it’s an opportunity for us to take care of our home court.”

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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