published Tuesday, November 12th, 2013

Uch on the Road: A Mocs blog

RADFORD, Va. -- Fresh thoughts and observations from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's 89-78 basketball loss at Radford on Monday:

The opening tip

UTC's Will Wade earned his first career victory in his first game as an NCAA Division I head coach last Friday in beating the Scots of Covenant College. He suffered his first loss against Radford's Highlanders, whose live mascot wears a kilt as if he were in Scotland.

The Covenant game was an ice-breaker, an introduction, a celebration of Wade's "Chaos" and all that comes with it. The Radford game meant business.

It pitted two teams from one-bid Division I leagues against each other in early November -- a measuring-stick game. The Mocs didn't measure up on the scoreboard for all 40 minutes.

Radford is starting its third season under former Virginia Commonwealth assistant coach Mike Jones. The Mocs are starting their first under another former VCU assistant coach.

Radford has endured the lumps and losses UTC has and will continue to endure throughout the season. The Highlanders were projected to finish third in the North Division of the Big South, essentially middle of the pack for the whole league. The Mocs were picked seventh of 11 teams in the SoCon before Wade's inaugural season.

UTC's lack of depth became apparent when point guard Greg Pryor -- who played a heck of a game for a freshman making his first start on the road with 17 points, three assists, zero turnovers and 8-for-8 free-throw shooting -- and senior post Zaccheus Mason were each saddled with two early fouls.

That shows the difference between a program in its third year and one in its first year under their respective coaches.

I'll write about depth and the roster later this week in the print edition of the Times Free Press.

Mocs chalk-talk

The video of this game is invaluable.

The Mocs out-talented Covenant and could have won that game if Wade and the rest of the coaching staff sat in the stands or played trombone with the pep band.

The Radford video will give Wade teaching points, including boxing out on free throws, executing base offense, the difference between old fouls and new fouls, as well as the thing they did to trim a 25-point deficit to a nine-point game.

With the players taking today off, they'll have plenty to see and plenty to practice later in the week.

We're learning more about the calls Wade makes from the sideline and the vocabulary he uses to call offensive and defensive plays. Listen to him and see what you learn, too. He's also developing catch-phrases. Not like "Build a wall" or "Fire," that we've heard in the past. He has his own in-game language.

Stats STAT!

The shooting percentages jump off the final box score from the game.

Radford shot 29-of-56 (51.8 percent) from the floor while UTC shot 22-of-61 (36.1 percent).

UTC reached its benchmark of 10 made 3s and needed 28 shots to get there. Radford was 6-of-12 from the arc.

The shooting rate that bodes well for the Mocs -- and this will be critical for them throughout the season -- is that they went 24-of-31 (77.4 percent) from the free-throw line.

I spied ...

Here are three things that I noticed by being at the game that I wouldn't have seen by watching online or listening to Jim Reynolds on the radio.

Radford assigned one of its uniformed officers to follow Wade on and off the court and sit directly behind him during the game. I think it's a smart move to prevent any potential for nastiness.

The biggest tantrum Wade displayed Monday came when UTC failed to box-out and secure a missed Radford free throw in the final minutes.

Junior Ronrico White -- who is out with a hip injury -- remains a key part of this team for his leadership. During the second-half warm-ups, he talked with players and they listened. He's a valuable asset on road trips -- a coach without a necktie.

Follow on Twitter

Please follow me on Twitter at UchiyamaCTFP. I'll post tweets during every game with the hash-tag #CHAOSLive. Feel free to Tweet me back. I'm friendly -- usually.

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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