The butterflies have not arrived.
Will Wade's leg is not jiggling up and down as he prepares for Friday's game. He's not fidgety, and his palms aren't sweaty a few days out from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's first basketball game of the 2013-14 season.
He's not nervous to make his debut as a Division I head coach -- yet.
"I don't know when my nerves will kick in," Wade, a 2005 Clemson graduate, said Monday. "I'll be so focused on preparing our team and our guys. I'm not sure I will get nervous. It hasn't kicked in yet."
Wade has both confidence and history on his side. UTC is 25-10 in season openers since the Mocs moved up to Division I in the fall of 1977. UTC is 19-0 in home games that start the season. It's 2-9 in season openers on the road and 4-1 in openers on neutral courts.
All 19 of the home season openers have been against non-Division I teams. The win streak should continue Friday against Covenant College, a Division III team.
"I think there's a pretty good talent gap," Covenant coach Kyle Taylor said. "Our starting five is very talented -- not as much as theirs -- but the gap is much bigger when you look at the second five. Their second five is light years ahead of our second five."
Those should be comforting words for Wade. After all, why else would he invite the coach of an opposing team to watch the Mocs practice? Taylor took him up on the offer several times to learn more about Wade's fast-paced style.
"I said, 'You know we play you, right?'" Taylor said. "That's a huge gesture. It's pretty unprecedented."
Maybe butterflies will arrive next Monday when UTC plays at Radford. But probably not.
It is Wade's belief that proper preparation eliminates nervousness as much as an insecticide eliminates unwanted caterpillars.
He has pushed the Mocs through more intensive training than any coach in school history. The players, the coaches, even the director of sports medicine at UTC endured grueling mornings of U.S. Navy SEAL training.
"Part of the plan deals with when things go awry, I expect them to embrace adversity and respond," Wade said. "We're going to have a plan going, and we'll have a plan if we need to adjust.
"There's no nervousness if they have a plan and they're sticking to a plan."
Contact David Uchiyama at email@example.com or 423-757-6484. Follow him at twitter.com/UchiyamaCTFP.
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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