Gaining Trust: Veteran Mocs team buying into their new coach’s philosophy

By Chris King

MBKalmamater

The Mocs’ new head coach Matt McCall is transitioning into his new role after being under future Hall of Fame coach Billy Donovan at Florida for a decade.

“I learned a long time ago that it’s not about the school that you coach at, but it’s about the people you work with every single day,” said McCall. “The biggest influence for me coming to Chattanooga from Florida were the people and the way they made me feel about the coaching situation. They proved to me that UTC is a very special place to be and that is what influenced me to come to Chattanooga.”

In the 10 years McCall spent at Florida under coach Donovan, he endured a couple responsibilities outside of sitting on the bench.  He started out as team manager from 2003-2006 and then transitioned into director of basketball operations for the 2007 and 2008 seasons. McCall then spent the next three seasons at Florida Atlantic as the assistant coach before coming back to become the assistant coach at Florida from 2012-2015.

“Coach Donovan gives everyone the ability to grow as a coach, he doesn’t label you and give you a specific job,” said McCall. “He gives you the chance to develop as a coach, which has made me more prepared for the transition into becoming a head coach. Outside of the first couple of weeks, I have never felt overwhelmed with being the head coach and it’s because coach Donovan really prepared me for the job.”

During coach McCall’s four years as the assistant at Florida, he helped aid the Gators to a 107-39 record, and played a big part in recruiting the players to help build for the future. He also helped coach the Gators to a Final Four appearance in 2014, along with three Elite Eight appearances.

McCall became the head coach of the Mocs in April when former coach Will Wade returned to his stomping grounds at VCU. In Chattanooga, McCall has inherited a veteran group of players that consists of five seniors and five juniors.

“This is their team, it is my job to steer the ship and eliminate distractions throughout the season,” said McCall. “These guys have been through alot and have tremendous amounts of experience.  There is no question that we will rely on the their leadership and we will go as far as our veteran leaders take us.”

Coach McCall and the Mocs tipped-off their regular season Friday night with a huge upset victory in overtime over SEC opponent Georgia 92-90. Being led by senior Casey Jones, New Orleans, and junior Johnathan Burroughs-Cook, Memphis, who both had 23 points in the overtime win. The two-point win marked UTC’s first victory over an SEC program since Dec. 5, 2004 at Tennessee.

“I have given full freedom to these guys and I have told them over and over again that this is their team and they produce their own success,” McCall said. “I am very excited to embark on this journey with them going forward.”

*Header photo by Chattanooga Athletics

Zachary Kirby

University Echo Sports Editor who's been with the publication since August of 2012. I cover a variety of UTC athletics which include basketball, football, golf, volleyball, softball, track and field, wrestling, and tennis. For more information please email me at zachary-kirby@mocs.utc.edu or 615-300-5854.

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