The Chattanooga Mocs open the 2017-18 season Friday at Wyoming. It’s not only opening night for the Mocs, it’s the first game of the Lamont Paris era.
"It's exciting on one hand,” Paris said. “On the other hand, it's one of many games where we just want to see where we are, and where we need to improve. How did we improve from the exhibition game? Naturally, it's exciting to have your inaugural game as a head coach, but it seems like I've been doing this for a while now.
“I'm just ready to get it going, play and improve, and find out where our strengths and weaknesses are against a good team.
Wyoming is a good team, good team. I'm more caught up in that than it being my first game. I'm just not that focused on me."
Paris’ debut is not the only one for a youthful Mocs roster. Eight student-athletes have the opportunity to see the floor in their first college game. There are just five letter winners back from last year’s 19-win team which makes the program one of just 14 nationwide with so few student-athletes back in the fold.
In a preseason survey sent to all Division I basketball schools, the Mocs are the youngest team in the country with an average age of 19.31 years old ahead of Kentucky (19.43).
Not to belabor a point, but the Mocs program is one of just five without a senior in its ranks. It’s one of seven without a starter back as well.
But flip the script to see there is a lot of opportunity. Paris said as much when asked what he’s learned since practice in October.
"There's a lot of unknown, and there will be for a while,” he noted. “There's opportunity here. Guys learn at different rates, but there's just a lot of unknowns.
“There's a lot of uncertainty with this team, but a lot of potential too."
Game time is at 9 p.m. It airs on the Mountain West Digital Network online and locally on the radio on Real 96.1 FM.
PROBABLE STARTERS (2016-17 Stats)
G - 0-Makale Foreman, 6-1, 185, So., 3.1, 0.4
G - 1-Rodney Chatman, 6-1, 175, So., 5.3, 2.1
F - 5-Nat Dixon, 6-4, 180, Jr., 2.5 ppg. 1.8 rpg
F - 21-Duane Moss, 6-6, 190, Fr., 13.8, 6.4 (HS Stats)
F - 22-Makinde London, 6-10, 220, Jr., 6.0, 3.5