published Monday, March 17th, 2014

Mocs excited for another postseason swing

  • photo
    UTC guard Ronrico White (11) dribbles the ball down the court at McKenzie Arena in Chattanooga in this file photo.
    Photo by Erin O. Smith /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Ronrico White had a one-word answer when University of Tennessee at Chattanooga coach Will Wade called and asked one of his captains if he thought the Mocs would enjoy playing in the postseason.

"Yes."

White, a junior guard, took the call last week and quickly responded that the team would relish an opportunity to play again after getting bounced from the Southern Conference Tournament quarterfinals March 8 by Georgia Southern.

Then he expanded on his answer.

"I spoke for the team because that's not how we wanted to end our season," White said of the game UTC once led by nine points in the second half. "We luckily got the opportunity to play again, and we want to take advantage."

The Mocs (18-14) will play on Tuesday in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament at former and future rival East Tennessee State, which will rejoin the SoCon after departing in 2005.

Both teams were eligible for postseason consideration after finishing above .500, and the Bucs (18-15) posted the bucks to host a home game.

"I told coach that I feel that we would be interested in playing because we didn't want to go out like that," said White, who grew up in Knoxville, about halfway between UTC and ETSU. "We love playing, and any time you get a chance to play and compete -- especially against a rival -- you want to take it.

"This is going to be a good game because they're a good team and we have to be ready to go."

The Mocs headed into spring break dejected after their loss in the SoCon tournament. Sophomore Casey Jones said two teammates went to the beach and everybody else headed home. He missed a call from Wade about the CIT because he was working out in New Orleans with old friends.

He relished the news that UTC's season has been revived.

"It was pretty cool to get that call," Jones said. "Everybody expected to be at home right now or on our way back for class.

"My mom and sister were excited to know that we'll keep playing."

The Mocs were back on campus Saturday evening for light shooting and lifting workout. They had a full practice Sunday afternoon and approached it as if they were in the regular season and two days away from facing a SoCon foe.

"It's good to get back in the rhythm," White said. "We're doing the same things. It's good to get back into the routine."

That includes classes today and a game on Tuesday.

It's a game the players didn't expect and one that could help them next year by simply extending this season.

"We didn't make the NCAAs last year or the year before," Jones said. "We're not bitter. We're happy.

"Next year, we'll be happy to watch the Selection Show. I hope."

Contact David Uchiyama at duchiyama@timesfreepress.com or at 423-757-6484. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/UchiyamaCTFP.

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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