Injuries add to Mocs' stress during rough stretch - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Injuries add to Mocs' stress during rough stretch

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CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- John Shulman just can't seem to catch a break.

With his team already mired in a five-game losing streak, including four straight losses at the buzzer, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga basketball coach is now juggling lineups after injuries to the top two power forwards on his depth chart.

Jahmal Burroughs (hamstring) and Z Mason (knee) both missed Saturday's loss to Georgia Southern, and are both listed as doubtful for this weekend's road trip to Western Carolina and Davidson.

"The trainer said 2-6 weeks on Jahmal's hamstring, so I'm really hoping it's more towards the two weeks instead of the six," Shulman said before Tuesday's practice. "Z was getting better, but now he's kind of hit a point where the knee isn't really improving.

"We've got an MRI (Wednesday) morning, so hopefully we'll learn more then."

As a result of the injuries, Lance Stokes is learning an entirely new position.

The freshman small forward made his debut at the power forward position against Georgia Southern, splitting time with walk-on Drew Baker. The duo combined for eight points and six rebounds in 31 minutes, and Shulman expects that production to increase.

"Drew knows what's going on, Lance does not know that position," Shulman said. "This week of practice is really going to help Lance, but I thought they both did a great job last Saturday night without any warning of what was going to happen."

In a pinch, Shulman has also used and could still use shooting guard Omar Wattad to fill the "4" spot vacated by Burroughs and Mason. However, Shulman would prefer only to use that in emergencies.

"We need both (Burroughs and Mason) back, and we'll get them back. I just don't know when," Shulman said. "At least until that time, Lance gets to practice at the position this week and we know Drew's going to be fine.

"If we have to throw Omar into that spot, then all things are out of whack, but it just makes it a little tougher. It makes it a little more interesting. It's not like we needed a bigger challenge, but now we've got one."

The depth concerns on the Mocs' front line are greater now than earlier in the season because of the loss of senior Chris Early. Early started eight of the first ten games at the "4" spot before being dismissed from the team in January for disciplinary reasons.

Burroughs and Mason, who have started a combined 12 games, have accounted for 8.7 points and 7.8 rebounds in just over 31 minutes per contest this season.

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