There's normally no one better at worrying than University of Tennessee at Chattanooga basketball coach John Shulman.
Especially given the fact that tonight's opponent — No. 7 Kansas — is coming off a tough 67-64 loss to Michigan State on Tuesday as it welcomes the Mocs to historic Allen Fieldhouse for tonight's 7 p.m. tip-off .
But in his continued attempt to appear more relaxed this season, Shulman insists he's taking a different approach against the Jayhawks, who last played the Mocs in the fall of 2003, which was also KU coach Bill Self's' first year at the school.
Said Shulman, who took over the UTC program a year after Self joined KU: "We were worrying about this when BJ [Assistant coach Brent Jolly] looked at me and said, 'Some people have picked them to win the national championship. People have picked us to be last in the Southern Conference.'
"I said, 'Good point. Let's go play ball.'"
Self liked the ball his Jayhawks played against the Spartans inside the Georgia Dome until the final five minutes.
"Then we tried to protect as opposed to play," he said. "But we can use this as a teaching tool. You can't just play 25 to 30 seconds of great defense on a possession. You have to play the full 35, then get the rebound. We didn't do that, and that was kind of frustrating."
So was KU's bench, which may be the deepest in all of college basketball, yet produced just six points against MSU.
"We've got some nice finesse players, but you don't beat teams like Michigan State on finesse," Self added.
Self expected to watch the Mocs for the first time on the flight home from Atlanta.
"I don't know much about them right now, " Self said. "But I know their coach a little bit. Seems like a good guy."
A good guy attempting to soften his outsized passion during this game and all that follow.
"What an opportunity," Shulman said on Tuesday. "Win or lose, let's get better. That's what the theme of this [season] has to be, and I'm going to tell y'all that quite often so I listen to myself."
Mark Wiedmer started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press on Valentine’s Day of 1983. At the time, he had to get an advance from his boss to buy a Valentine gift for his wife. Mark was hired as a graphic artist but quickly moved to sports, where he oversaw prep football for a time, won the “Pick’ em” box in 1985 and took over the UTC basketball beat the following year. By 1990, he was ...