published Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

Will Wade intends historic Chaos with UTC Mocs (with video)

UTC hires Will Wade to lead men's basketball program
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga welcomed Will Wade as the new leader of the Mocs men's basketball program during a ceremony on campus Tuesday. Wade was previously an assistant coach at Virginia Commonwealth University under head coach Shaka Smart.
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    Will Wade speaks to basketball player Eric Robertson and his mother Regina Robertson after being introduced as the new UTC men's head basketball coach at the UTC University Center Tuesday afternoon.
    Photo by Dan Henry.
    enlarge photo

Will Wade planned on being a basketball coach during his high school years as a 6-foot-4 power forward.

His career plan at the time in Nashville, and even after four years at Clemson as a student manager, included teaching history during the morning and coaching a boys' basketball team in the afternoon.

Those plans never included becoming the head coach at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, but he's now the boss of Blue-and-Gold basketball.

"I originally wanted to be a high school coach and teacher," the 30-year-old Wade said. "After I got done with my undergraduate degree, Coach [Oliver] Purnell was like, 'Why don't you stick around and get your graduate degree?' My intention was never to be a college coach. I wanted to go back and teach history and be a high school coach."

Instead of teaching history, Wade is making history as the third youngest head basketball coach in NCAA Division I and with a program that reached the Sweet 16 in 1997 and has played in 10 NCAA tournaments.

"It was important that we compete through the interview process, and we interviewed several face to face and had them compete to see which is the best fit," athletic director David Blackburn said. "Over and over again, Will kept coming to the top. He did that nationally, with people who called on his behalf, and he did that one on one and with our group."

Wade has not coached a game for UTC yet, but he unofficially starts out 1-0 after winning the news conference and reception held for him Tuesday in the University Center.

The recent Virginia Commonwealth assistant drew three large rounds of ovation -- at his introduction, at the conclusion and when he said that former UTC player and recent interim coach Casey Long will remain on his staff.

Throughout the day, Wade drew a few laughs, posed for pictures, shook every hand extended to him, exchanged business cards with former UTC star Ricky Taylor and gave each of the current players some sort of hug or handshake.

The crowd listened attentively as Wade described the style that UTC will play under his leadership: Chaos.

It came complete with UTC-designed placards and a promotional placard for everybody in attendance and two larger signs just to the right of the dais from which he spoke.

"All of the best mid-major programs have a brand," Wade said. "When you think Chattanooga, you're going to think Chaos. We're going to use Chaos to be our brand to become one of the premier programs in the Southern Conference.

"We're going to be a blue-collar, hard-working team. Offensively we're going to sprint out in transition, we're going to shoot the 3-ball and we're going to be relentless on the offensive glass."

He followed with a brief description of his X's and O's that every basketball fan in the crowd could understand.

"Defensively, we're going to pressure for 94 feet and guard every floorboard in man and zone pressure," Wade said. "Then we're going to pressure every pass, deny every pass and we're going to look like we have six players on the court. With my coaching style, we may actually have six on the court.

"As I told the players, you're going to have more fun than you've had in your life playing basketball, but you're also going to work harder than you've ever had to work in your life playing basketball."

While calling each of his players Monday, Wade pulled a little prank on sophomore Gee McGhee, who started all 32 games last year and led the Mocs with 43 steals.

After a few minutes of getting to know McGhee -- a fun-loving and energetic player who should fit right into Wade's system -- the coach asked McGhee if he was familiar with VCU's style. McGhee said he knew a little about the fast pace and was eager to run and play the up-tempo style.

Then Wade set the hook.

"I told Gee, 'The problem is, that's not what I believe in ,and we're going to play [slow] Princeton offense and a 2-3 matchup zone,'" Wade recalled. "You could have heard a pin drop on the other side. I couldn't hear anything. Then I said, 'Gee, I'm just kidding, baby. We're going to run,' and he goes, 'That's what I'm talking about, Coach.'"

Michael Litos has seen Wade's defense as close as anybody since he is the color analyst for the VCU Ram Radio Network.

"When I'm calling a game, you look at the opponent and see their body language and you can see frustration on their face," Litos said. "I think a lot of it is mental. I notice some of the panic and signs that it's setting in. They start barking at each other when a routine pass is no longer routine. You can just see [big runs] coming."

Wade and Blackburn have signed memorandums of understanding with UTC, as has women's basketball coach Jim Foster. But details of the final agreements and allocations for staff salaries need to be ironed out in the coming days.

"We're working on getting things finalized as we speak," Blackburn said. "We need to go through the legal system and get everything in place. We still have to work on bonus amounts, but that won't be an issue."

In addition to working out financial agreements, Wade said his most immediate needs are to build relationship with his players, round out his staff and get to recruiting -- future players as well as future fans.

"There's nobody more excited in this room than me right now," Wade said. "This is a tremendous opportunity, and I couldn't be more excited."

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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