Mocs forced to regroup after rough week - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Mocs forced to regroup after rough week

CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- John Shulman doesn't know how bad Dontay Hampton's knee injury is just yet, but the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga basketball coach knows it's not good.

He also knows his team can't afford to dwell on its latest bout of bad luck.

The Mocs returned to practice Tuesday for the first time since returning from a five-day road trip that included a 24-point loss at Elon and a nine-point setback at UNC Greensboro. However, a career-ending injury to Hampton would be the team's biggest loss of the week.

The senior point guard re-injured his right knee on the final play of the first half in last Thursday's loss at Elon and underwent an MRI on Monday. Hampton, a former CSAS star who returned just three weeks ago from a torn ACL, will find out the results of the test Wednesday.

"It affected us. It should have affected us. How could it not?" Shulman said of the team's play since losing Hampton. "He's our senior leader. He's our brother. He's our guy.

"But we need some finality to it. We can't be talking about Tay's knee for the rest of the season. We have to move on."

The Mocs have three more days to prepare before Saturday's trip to Georgia Southern, and Shulman intends to take advantage.

The veteran coach will continue to tinker with his lineup, as well as his overall defensive scheme, in hopes of finding a spark for UTC's struggling defense, which has given up 77 points or more in five straight games.

"Having to juggle and switch and try to figure things out in February is probably not the greatest time to do this, but we can't help it," Shulman said. "We're going to have to be creative. We're going to play some man. We'll play some zone and we'll trap.

"We're going to be underdogs, and I don't mind it."

But before Chattanooga can fix its problems on the court, it has to fix what's affecting them off it.

Without Hampton, Shulman is asking Z Mason to step into a larger leadership role. The junior forward has three double-doubles in the last four games and was named the Socon's Player of the Week last week.

But more than anything, Shulman's goal this week is getting his young team to look forward, not back. The Mocs stand 3-5 with a month left in a balanced SoCon race, and will play six of their final nine games at home following Saturday's trip to GSU, including four in a row.

"I don't know why we get bad breaks, but we do," Shulman said. "Adversity is a fact of life. Everybody is going to face it at some time, so we're going to teach kids how to face it. We're going to teach them to face it like men, not complain, and move forward." 

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