By Zack Kirby, Chattanooga, Tenn.— The 2015-16 Chattanooga Mocs men’s basketball schedule was released by head coach Matt McCall Monday morning.
McCall, who will enter his first year as head coach after serving as an assistant coach at Florida, spoke to the media Monday and announced that his schedule included 15 home games and an exhibition against Covenant College.
“Obviously I think that our staff did a tremendous job piecing together our schedule, as well as the previous staff, who scheduled the majority of the games,” McCall said. “We [our staff] were able to add some games late here, and this is all about how we can be our best to prepare for conference play. In order for us to compete in the postseason, we will have to finish in the top of the Southern Conference, and I think this schedule will prepare us for that. The goal is getting better every single day.”
The season will officially tip off Friday, Nov. 6 in the exhibition against Covenant College, followed by a Nov. 13 road test against SEC opponent Georgia.
UTC’s home opener against Hiwassee will be Nov.16 and then the Mocs will be on the road for five straight games, beginning with Illinois and back-to-back Big 12 tournament champions Iowa State.
“Sometimes you would like to play opponents to get your feet wet before you go into an environment like Iowa State, Illinois or Georgia,” McCall said. “I’ve competed against the University of Georgia for about 11 years while I was at Florida, so I understand how difficult it will be to go into those types of places. We have a veteran team with nine juniors and seniors who have played in those types of environments before, so we’ll be prepared.”
Following those games, the Mocs will compete in the Emerald Coast Classic from Nov. 27-28, where they will open with Alabama State, and will face either Chicago State or Jacksonville State in the championship/consolation game the next day.
After the tournament, UTC will close out the road slate at Louisiana-Monroe Nov. 30.
Chattanooga will open December with a local matchup against Tennessee Wesleyan at home, followed by a tough road test against Dayton in the Atlantic 10 conference Dec. 11.
UTC will close out 2015 with three home games against Tennessee Tech (Dec. 15), Kennesaw State (Dec. 18) and Radford (Dec. 22), wrapped up by a road trip to Lipscomb (Dec. 29).
“Anytime you’re trying to put together a schedule, [playing local teams] is something that is important to do and to get fans inside your building,” McCall said. “We try to schedule those teams to prepare us for league play, but we also want to schedule games that fans will get excited about and want to go to McKenzie arena. There are two ways you do that, which are bringing in those types of opponents into the building, and then you win. Those are the biggest ways to get our arena filled.”
This year’s non-conference schedule features six teams that competed had postseason appearances. Georgia, Iowa State and Dayton made it to the NCAA Tournament, Illinois was selected for the NIT and Louisiana-Monroe [ULM] and Radford participated in the CBI tournament, where ULM made it to the championship game.
Jan. 2 will officially mark the beginning of conference play and the Mocs will open with a road trip to the Citadel. The Southern Conference play will last all through January and February, before it concludes in March at the SoCon Tournament, which is held in Asheville, N.C.
“They [the players] knew most of it before it was actually released, but I think those guys are excited for the challenge in front of them,” McCall said. “Right now, we’re not focused on any one game ahead of us. Instead, we’re focused on getting better today. The season will be here before we know it, and we finished strong on our summer workouts this week, so they will get to go home before the fall semester begins. We’ll get back to individual workouts and instruction as soon as they get back for fall.”
To view the complete schedule, click here