With experience comes poise.
With poise come the ability to remain calm and execute within the system at critical points of a basketball game despite 3,000 people screaming for points on offense and a turnover on defense.
The Mocs lacked the experience and thus the poise necessary to beat Kennesaw State on Tuesday.
"Our guys were almost trying too hard at some points," said University of Tennessee at Chattanooga coach Will Wade, whose team lost 73-69 to Kennesaw State on Tuesday in McKenzie Arena.
"We have to make smarter plays," the first-year coach continued on Wednesday. "We have to have a little better poise on offense."
KSU (2-4) built a nine-point lead on the Mocs with 9:41 to play. UTC tied the game on an 18-foot jumper by Zaccheus Mason with 3:23 to go.
Almost every possession during the come-back seemed to be pressure possessions where UTC needed to score on offense or get a stop on defense.
The Owls were ready to run away with the game. But they couldn't. UTC pulled within three points, two points, then tied the game with Mason's jumper.
These Mocs had not been in tight situations under Wade prior to Tuesday. They don't know how to play under pressure no matter how many practice situations Wade can attempt in practice.
The team of one senior, an injured junior who doesn't play, and seven contributing under-classmen doesn't have the poise necessary to win at end-of-game situations -- not yet.
"There's no substitute for when it happens in the moment," Wade said. "The more we're in those moments, the better we'll be. You hope that's a game you win down the line, for sure."
Wade has no complaints about effort from Tuesday's game. He does have a few complaints about execution, but enough to know UTC lost due to unforced turnovers, poor 3-point shooting, and a lack of execution in the final minutes and seconds of the game.
After all, UTC scored one point in the final three minutes of the game.
Two regrettable plays -- unforced errors -- belong to senior forward Zaccheus Mason who casually tossed a lofty in-bounds pass leading to a dunk by Orlando Coleman who had blood dripping from a gash above his left eyebrow earned in the opening minutes.
Mason later tossed a lazy pass to the wing which was intercepted and dunked by Willy Kouassi with 20 seconds to play. The teams were tied when Mason had the ball.
"We suffered some self-inflicted wounds, stuff that is very avoidable," Wade said. "We have to have a comfort level and understanding of exactly what we're trying to do.
"That all comes with experience playing and experience in the system."
Contact David Uchiyama at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 423-757-6484. Follow him on Twitter 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 ...