CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- Gee McGhee knew Will Wade's style was to push the pace.
After all, the new University of Tennessee at Chattanooga head coach was best known for the intense, full-court, all-out pressure defense he helped develop at Virginia Commonwealth.
What McGhee did not know, though, was that Wade also had plans to implement a full-court press on the entire Chattanooga campus and surrounding community.
"We've been having little festivities like passing out popsicles or candy for Halloween," McGhee said. "We've been knocking on doors and going around the campus. It's just about meeting new people."
Wade played his part, too, taking every opportunity over the past six months to speak to community leaders, civic groups and members of the media. But he also wanted his players to play a part of the grassroots marketing in the classroom, dorms and campus apartments that could impact another audience.
"We're certainly trying to engage the students," said Wade, who is hoping for a raucous crowd at McKenzie Arena at 5:30 p.m. ET Friday evening when his Mocs open the season against Covenant. "It's important for the students to know who our guys are. I've encouraged my guys in class to introduce themselves to other students.
"It's easier to come and support our guys if you know them and are friends with them. The students I talked to said they wanted to get to know our team, so I said, 'You got it. Here we come.'"
It turns out new introductions were needed for other reasons, as well, considering many returning players look a little different than the last time they took the court.
"I lost 20 pounds since the summer," McGhee said with a smile. "I had to go to the mall and by some new clothes because mine were getting big on me. I don't like my clothes big. I like my clothes tight on me."
If Wade's plan pans out, opponents will be begging for breathing room against his hard-nosed team.
Wade has worked tirelessly to establish a new identity for the Blue and Gold, and more than anything that's what he hopes to see in Friday's season-opener.
"I want to see a team that's an attacking team, a team that presses for 40 minutes," Wade said. "I want to see a team that battles fatigue. I just want to see a blue-collar, hard-working team for 40 minutes."
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