Recon: Chattanooga

Recon: Chattanooga

Photo_2What a difference 23 minutes of basketball can make. With 23 minutes left in Wednesday’s game against Vanderbilt, Archie Miller found his team trailing by 16 points and promptly took a timeout. UD proceeded to outscore the Commodores 35-12 over the next 13 minutes of play.

You know the details already (and Blackburn did a fine job recapping them, as always), but turning a 16-point deficit into a 7-point lead…on the road…versus a ranked opponent…is no small feat. It’s also one I’m not particularly accustomed to seeing out of our very own Flyers. Amazing what a different feeling one has about the tone and tenor of the rest of this season after a win like that.

One more thought before we preview a (hated?) Chattanooga squad. I don’t want to delve into the Pierre Saga any further; we’ve beaten that dead horse enough already. But you could make a strong case that even with Dyshawn Pierre on the roster, Dayton would stand exactly where it does now: seven wins in eight games, with a very real possibility of finishing the non-conference schedule at 11-1. I’d never attempt to claim that Pierre hasn’t been missed (he has, and woefully so at times). Just pointing out that 7-1 is all one could have reasonably expected from the Fliers at this point in the year. A win on Saturday and this team will likely be ranked in the Top 25; with or without Pierre’s return, the future is promising.

Overview

The Chattanooga Mocs – wait, the fuck is a Moc? For an answer, let’s hit up gomocs.com:

The term “Moc” is short for “Mockingbird.” Mockingbirds are fiercely territorial creatures which protect their homes with courage, determination and skill. Those attributes reflect the intellect, spirit and character of UTC student-athletes and alumni. A Moc is a champion on the playing surface, in the classroom and, most importantly, in life.

Why Mocs? Faced with politically sensitive issues and in need of a stronger core identity to help establish a strong brand as Chattanooga’s Team, the athletics department embarked on a comprehensive identity program in 1996. A new direction for the athletics identity was determined, moving away from the politically incorrect Native American Indian imagery.

Dayton_1396139631948_3888787_ver1_0_640_480Sorry for wasting two paragraphs and 30 seconds of your life. The Mocs enter the Sweatre Centre with a record of 6-2 on the year, boasting an overtime win at Georgia and a victory over Illinois at a neutral site. I have no idea if these W’s are noteworthy, I only know that “power” programs like Illinois and Georgia aren’t supposed to lose to lowly Chattanooga. 

The Mocs are coached by Matt McCall, a former Billy Donovan assistant who’s in his first year on the job. This means McCall was on the bench when the Florida Gators ended Daytona’s Cinderella run in the 2014 Elite Eight so, obviously, this is a huge revenge game for UD. 

It isn’t groundbreaking to say the Flyers likely won’t face another team with Vanderbilt’s height. That definitely won’t be an issue Saturday evening as the Mocs only have one player over 6’7” who figures to see significant playing time. It appears that the Mocs like to attack from the perimeter; they average nearly 25 3-point field goal attempts per game and shoot it at respectable 38% from long distance. Chattanooga averages more than 14 turnovers per contest, which is actually an improvement after turning the ball over 72 times in its first four games.

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Casey Jones is dat dude for the Mocs. He leads the team in scoring (12.6 ppg), rebounding (6.5) and assists (3.9). The 6’5” senior guard is asked to do it all and usually delivers. Greg Pryor and Eric Robertson will start alongside Jones in the Mocs’ three-guard lineup. Pryor is the team’s third leading scorer at 9.4 a game and has hit nearly 45% of his 3-point attempts this season. Robertson checks in at 7.3 ppg. 

The frontcourt features Justin Tuoyo, Chattanooga’s only real “size” is this game. He’s a 6’10” junior who scores more than 11 a game and leads the SoCon with 2.8 blocks per outing. The anomaly appears to be Tuoyo’s (lack of) rebounding prowess. How a 6’10” dude only grabs 3.8 boards a game is a question for a man smarter than I. Tre’ McLean rounds out the starting lineup. He’s a forward whose most notable quality is having a name that ends in an apostrophe.

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The Mocs will go nine or ten deep, depending on the night, with forward Chuck Ester and guard Johnathan Burroughs-Cook being the first two men off the pine. Chattanooga features eight players averaging between 7 and 12.6 ppg. This either signifies a balanced scoring attack or a plethora of mediocre players who struggle to separate themselves from one another. Having never seen the Mocs play, let’s go ahead and assume it’s the latter. 

Chattanooga can score a little, putting up 79 points a game thus far. But when you’re dropping 90-plus on Tennessee Wesleyan, Alabama State, and Hiwassee (this is a real college in Tennessee, I googled it), do those numbers really mean anything?

Nate’s Numbers

The thing that sticks out with Chattanooga is their three-point shooting.  They’re not quite North Florida, but could still pose a problem nonetheless. They get about 37.6% of their points from behind the arc, 38th nationally, by firing about 40% of their shots from three and connecting on 38% of their attempts. I’m always wary of any team that can/will bomb from the outside given the Flyers are giving up almost 40% from three-point land, but more importantly, teams take almost 38% of their shots against UD from there.  The good news is, most of Nooga’s three’s come from two guys — Pryor and Robertson.  I’d think KD should be able to shut one of them down.

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Prediction

The Fliers are coming off a huge road win in Nashville. Read: If you think I’m picking against UD in this one, you trippin’. Dayton shows no signs of a letdown whatsoever and figures out how to kill a Mockingbird (Boom! The payoff was worth the wait, right?). Let’s call it 82-65 with Chief McElvene notching another double-double.

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