Monday, March 16, 2009

Don't Mock the Mocs

It's amazing, the more you hear about a team you've never seen play, from both common opponents and the team itself, the better that team seems to get. If you're not careful, you might seriously start thinking Tennessee-Chattanooga can pull off the upset of UConn on Thursday.

Back to reality. A team that lost to Fairfield by 19 early in the season (the same Fairfield that was popped by UConn by 20 a month later) can't really be a serious threat to the Huskies, can they? Can they really become the first 16-seed to beat a 1?

Well, no. But here are a few things that might at least make UConn fans at least a little nervous:
  • The Mocs don't seem like they'll be intimidated. "We've all seen (UConn) play, they're on ESPN and SportsCenter every night," said senior forward Nicchaeus Doaks. "We'd laugh about it, all throughout the year, if we played against UConn in the tourney, what we're going to do against Adrien, Thabeet, Price ... Now, those jokes are going to be realilty in the coming week. We'll just play with our hearts, do what we do, and we'll look up at scoreboard and maybe there'll be a surprise."
  • And this from Chattanooga coach John Shulman: "We'll have great preparation this week. If I haven't prepped team to get a win against UConn, I've done my team a disservice."
  • Stephen McDowell can flat-out shoot the rock. He averaged 18.6 points per game this season and shot the 3-pointer at a 43.4 percent rate! Said Fairfield coach Ed Cooley: "McDowell can single-handedly keep you in the game, the way he shoots the ball. That would be the one thing that Connecticut must be aware of. I don’t think they’re going to get second shots on Conn. Like they do at our level."
  • Doaks (a 6-7 forward) and 6-5 guard Kevin Goffney also score in double figures, while guard Khalil Hartwell averages 9.1. Cooley was also impressed with 6-6 athletic junior guard Ty Patterson, who averages 8.4 points off the bench. "To me, it's all about McDowell and (Patterson)," said Cooley.

  • When the Mocs began their season with losses to Tennessee, Missouri, Memphis, USC (all tourney teams) and Fairfield, they did so without Goffney, whom Shulman labeled "our MVP and best player." Goffney fractured his ankle less than a minute into the Tennessee game. He missed eight games, but since his return, the Mocs have been much better.
  • Hartwell tore his ACL in a game last year against Davidson. The following week, he went to Shulman and said, "Coach, I want to brace it up and play." Shulman said no way; Hartwell insisted. So, he braced up his knee and played out the rest of the season, notching a couple of double-doubles, then had surgery after the season. What does this have to do with the UConn game? Nothing. But it sure tells you that this kid has some heart and toughness.

Worried yet? Don't be. The Mocs have a few things to worry about, as well. For instance:

  • UConn doesn't lose to teams it's supposed to beat -- at least not in the past two seasons. Seriously, other than Georgetown this year and San Diego last year, when's the last time you were shocked at one of its losses? And San Diego was obviously good enough to be a tourney team, so that shouldn't even count.
  • Fairfield held McDowell to seven points on 2-for-9 shooting by face-guarding him all over the floor.
  • The Mocs have never faced anyone like Thabeet before. "He's a little different than what we see every day," said Shulman. "We've got a 7-1 guy (Jeremy Saffore), but trust me he's not 273 ... We are prepared. I am inside-oriented guy, so we're prepared. We're not as physical as Pitt. We can't be (DeJuan) Blair, we can only be who we are. "
  • Chattanooga is 5-10 on the road this season and 0-3 on neutral courts.
  • The Mocs don't have much size down low. "There’s no answers for their interior guys," said Cooley. "Doaks is good, but good at the mid-major level and good at the high-major level is a different kind of good. If I go to a party with Denzel Washington, I’ve got no chance. I'll end up with Roseanne Barr."

Will the fat lady sing for UConn on Thursday? Nope. But the Mocs aren't going to go down without a fight.


Blogger College Slam Dunk & 3-Point said...

I found a great link that discusses Connecticut and Chattanooga match up.

Bruce Pearl, head coach of 9-seed Tennessee, breaks down the 1-16 match-up in the West Region between the UConn Huskies and the Chattanooga Mocs.

12:11 PM 
Blogger Kool Mo-C said...

Frankly, I'm amazed that Fairfield coach Ed Cooley had enough time amongst his basketball schedule to play Bunk Moreland on "The Wire."

5:32 PM 
Blogger Todd said...


I guess this did not post the other day so I will try again.

What team did the No. 14 seed Mocs lose to in the 1997 Sweet Sixteen? I am sure you know this . . .

The No. 10 seed Providence . . . in a game where Shammgod and Croshere combined for 34 points.

2:56 PM 
Blogger David Borges said...

That '97 team was the best team PC had since probably the '73 Final Four team. It's a shame they didn't make it at last as far. Kinda reminds me of the '06 UConn team (though maybe not quite as good). Kinda underachieved in the regular season, came on in the tourney, only to get shocked in the Elite Eight (though it was by the eventual national champ).

3:00 PM 

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