Monday, November 12, 2012
- by B.B. Branton
"Playing UTC gives our program good exposure and this is an opportunity to see what we can do against a D-I program. I am anxious to see how our players respond."
-- Tennessee Temple basketball coach Brac Brady
Tonight's UTC men's basketball season opener with Tennessee Temple at McKenzie Arena (7 p.m.) is the college veterans against the young kids.
"And we're the kids - the team with a couple of 18-year-old starters ready to play their first college basketball game," said Shulman with a laugh.
"Temple (2-1) is a tall, veteran team with guys who have played in D-I programs and are 22-23 years old and older."
While the Mocs are young - probable freshman starters are Casey Jones and Gee McGhee - they are talented. Jones once had a triple-double in high school and McGhee averaged 29 points per game last years as a high school senior.
UTC has three returners in the lineup in Z Mason (6-5 Jr., F), Drazen Zlovaris (6-9, Sr., F) and point guard Ronrico White (6-3, So G).
Zlovaric is the leading returning scorer (10.2 ppg) and rebounder (6.4 rbpg), while Mason averaged 5.6 points and 5.6 boards in 25 games and White averaged 5.0 ppg and 1.6 rbpg.
Shulman has three other freshmen who should also see playing time in Farad Cobb, Alex Bran and Eric Robertson.
Temple is just the opposite with a 7-2 center from Sudan via Mississippi State and a 6-10 forward from Sweden via Prairie View.
John Riek is the 7-2 center (who can stand on tip-toes and his fingers touch the rim) who could give the Mocs trouble on the boards tonight, while Aron Walker once played on the Sweden 18-under team then a stint at Prairie View after high school ball in Ohio before arriving at Temple last year.
One local player on the Crusaders roster is 5-8 junior point guard Corey Sanders who was an all-city player at Brainerd in 2005 and leads Temple in scoring (9.3 ppg)..
Riek has the interesting background as he was the number one prospect coming out of prep school in New York in 2007 with a had a possible path to the NBA, but knee injuries set him back and then played sparingly at Mississippi State before settling at Temple.
"John has an extraordinary touch for a big man," said first year Temple coach Brac Brady. "And Aron shoots the ball well and has good post moves. When he is on his game he is tough."
One other player to watch is sophomore guard Weedlens Beauvil (5A all state from Florida) who was the NCCAA national player of the week two weeks ago after he scored 14 points and had two rebounds to lead Temple to a 56-45 win against Bryan College in the season opener on Oct. 27.
The Brady Bunch: The Crusader team could be labeled the Brady Bunch - Yours, Mine and Ours. For various reasons, players have transferred from Columbus (Ga.) State Univ., Stetson, Louisiana-Monroe, U. of Maine at Machias, Chattahoochie Technical College, Truett-McConnell College and Lee University along with the aforementioned Mississippi State and Prairie View.
These players have changed names on the front of their jersey's more times than Oregon football changes uniform styles.
But with all the address changes, coach Brady believes the players have responded well to working to build a cohesive team at Temple.
"I am please with where we are so far and want to continue to build on the season," said Brady, and am looking forward to tonight's game to see how we play against a D-I team."
Temple of Doom: For years, Tennessee Temple's McGilvray Gym has been a tough place to play for opposing teams as the Crusaders have won seven NCCAA national championships with the first one coming in 1979 and the most recent one in 2003 ... The Crusaders were region runners-up last year.
Shulman Quotes: At the start of Saturday's practice, coach Shulman stressed playing with a sense of urgency and having lots of passion and heart.
"The (UTC) women played with passion and heart in their win against UT. You can't tell me they were not having a blast in that game. If you do the right things and play hard it will all come together.
"We must have a urgency in everything we do."
Next For the Mocs: UTC travels to Kansas on Thursday, then hosts three games in three days next week ... Southeast Missouir (Nov. 18), Troy (Nov. 19) and Louisiana Tech (Nov. 20) as part of the CBE Classic.
contact B.B. Branton at email@example.com.