Some say that you make your own luck in life. Others might disagree. Either way, Chattanooga hasn’t had much of it this year.
One injury after another, combined with some bad breaks on the court and a cruel conference schedule that even the most experienced of teams would loathe, has all taken its toll on the Mocs this season.
“Please, pile some more on us, how about that?” Shulman said. “Keep giving us a little more adversity and see if we can pull it off.”
The Mocs opened their conference slate with six of their first nine away from McKenzie Arena, and one of the three at home was the squad’s Dec. 1 showdown with Davidson, the class of the Southern Conference at 10-1, more than a month before league play picked back up.
“It definitely hasn’t been a great schedule for this young team,” said Drazen Zlovaric, UTC’s only healthy senior. “The way it worked out definitely hasn’t been in our favor.”
But the smoke is starting to clear for Chattanooga (8-14, 3-6 SoCon), which has dropped three straight on the road and sits in last place in the SoCon North Division, 4.5 games out of first place.
The Mocs kick off a four-game home stand with Thursday’s showdown with The Citadel, and they’ll play six of their next seven at the Roundhouse.
“The way the schedule was made, it was crazy,” UTC freshman Gee McGhee said. “We played too many road games in a row. It’s good we get to finally be comfortable and just be back in our home city.”
How much it will help isn’t quite clear.
Concluding the regular season with six of nine at home should be a reason for optimism, but the Mocs haven’t yet shown they can protect their home court on a consistent basis. They’re 5-7 at McKenzie Arena this season – 3-7 against Division I competition – and just 1-2 in league play.
“We haven’t played great at home, but we got beat by some pretty good people here,” Shulman said. “We’ve gotten better, now it’s just time to see if we can put something together. We’ve been close, but maybe being at home will get us over the hump.”
The Mocs grabbed a pair of home victories over NAIA schools Tennessee Temple and Reinhardt, two more came against High Point and Utah Valley in the Dr. Pepper Classic on Dec. 28-29, and they overcame a massive second-half deficit against Appalachian State on Jan. 17.
UTC plays five games in 10 days beginning on Thursday against Bulldogs, followed by home games against College of Charleston, Samford and Furman. They conclude the cluster of contests with a trip to Wofford on Feb. 16.
“I don’t think they mind that,” Shulman said. “More games and less practice late in the season probably isn’t a bad thing. We’re ready to do that. We’re ready to kind of get some flow going again. We’re ready for five games in 10 days – if we can stay healthy, which is asking a lot out of us.”
The Mocs played five games in a span of nine days earlier this season, but finished with a 1-4 record during that stretch, which included losses to No. 5 Kansas, Southeast Missouri, Troy and Louisiana Tech. The team’s lone win was a 14-point victory at Kennessaw State
Michael Murphy covers UTC athletics for Nooga.com. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelNooga.