CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- A disappointing overtime loss to Gardner-Webb two weeks ago left the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga men's basketball team with an ugly 2-4 record and without much pride.
Two Southern Conference losses later, the Mocs now stand at an even uglier 2-6 overall (0-2 in SoCon play), yet more optimistic about the remainder of the season.
"You have to acknowledge it, then realize you can fix it. That's the only way to do it," senior guard Omar Wattad said before Thursday's practice. "You can't dread it and panic and worry about being 2-6.
"We're basketball players. You've got to just keep on playing basketball. We'll be fine."
Wattad and company are able to say that with a little more pride after a heart-breaking double-overtime loss last Saturday at South Division leader College of Charleston.
UTC let a four-point lead slip away in the final 12.5 seconds of regulation, then nearly pulled out the win in extra time before falling 87-85. Head coach John Shulman called it one of his team's best performances in the last two years, and a game the Mocs deserved to win.
"It left a bad taste in our mouth because it was a loss, but at least we found a good formula as far as how we need to bring it," Wattad said. "We just need to keep grinding in practice."
Unfortunately, any motivation and momentum gained in the trip to Charleston has been at least put on hold while UTC goes through final exams for the fall semester. The Mocs will have gone seven days between games by the time they play at Mercer this Saturday, and will have had two days off in that span.
"I wanted to play Sunday afternoon, but it is what it is," Shulman said. "It's hard to practice during exams because you don't have their heads all the time.
"But the good thing is they're about a day away from being like the pros, where they don't have to worry about classes. The next few weeks will be a great time for us to get a lot better."
Shulman is fully confident his team will be able to do just that. He's been around long enough to know you can't ignore the numbers in the win-loss columns, but he also understand to not put much stock in them until after the new year.
"The frustration started three weeks ago and hasn't left me since," Shulman said of Chattanooga's record. "You just have to remember the long-haul, remember the process. You can't lose your basketball team in December.
"The tournaments are played in March. The majority of our conference schedule is played in January and February. We just have to continue to get better."
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