The Year of the Moc

The Year of the Moc

With Chattanooga built around four talented seniors, it is time for the Mocs to get scrappy and defend their nest. They will need to occasionally leave the nest and go attack some Bulldogs, Cougars and Terriers too. Or they could stay on track and ride the train to victory. Or they could do some politically incorrect analogy that involves Native Americans. I have nothing about the brief use of a shoe as a logo for the school that has gone through a few too many identities. In any event, Coach John Shulman’s team has underachieved the last two seasons, but they cannot allow that to happen again this time around. With Omar Wattad, Ricky Taylor, Keegan Bell and Chris Early leading the way, it is hard to imagine the Mocs will not make some major noise in the Southern Conference.

Wattad, who spent two years at Georgetown, suited up for Chattanooga for the first time last year and led the squad with 14.3 points per game. The 6-5 Johnson City, Tennessee native is a fine outside shooter and will use his size to attack the basket. He should be the Mocs go-to-scorer, but Taylor is in the running for that job too.

Taylor, another 6-5 senior, is the only one of the big four who did not transfer from a major program. Thus, he has been a leader of sorts on and off the court for Chattanooga and should continue to be as a senior. Taylor is a fine shooter from anywhere on the floor and does a great job of getting to the charity stripe. Taylor should wrap up his collegiate career by joining the Mocs 1,000 point club.

While Wattad and Taylor do all the damage on the wings, it is Keegan Bell who makes the offense tick. The 6-1 Huntsville, Alabama product spent one season as the backup point guard at Vanderbilt. Even in limited playing time with the Commodores, he tallied 2.8 assists per contest. After redshirting, Bell immediately emerged as the Mocs playmaker in 2009-2010 and dished out 4.8 assists per game. Last year he increased that number to 5.7. More impressively, he only committed 2.4 turnovers per contest. However, Bell is not just a passer; he can score a little bit too. Most of Bell’s scoring comes from beyond the arc, where he is not particularly efficient, but his threat to shoot forces the opposition to guard him close. When that happens he attacks the basket and finds one of the talented wings for an easy bucket.

Early may be the most important of the four this year. With little other experience in the frontcourt, it will be very important for Early to have a big year. The former Sooner of Oklahoma spent some time coming in off of the bench, but last year he stepped into a starting role and showed why he got offers from places like Oklahoma in the first place. On the year Early averaged 9.3 points and 6.3 rebounds. Both of those numbers should increase in 2011-2012. At 6-7 and 242 pounds, Early has the size to bang under the basket, but he can also step outside and hit the mid-range jumper with consistency. However, this year the Mocs will need him to stay inside and hit the glass.

Wattad, Taylor, Bell and Early form one great group of seniors. Their roads to Chattanooga have all been different and the change of scenery has taken its toll on team chemistry at times, but that should not be an issue in 2011-2012. The Mocs should be right back in the mix for the Southern Conference North title, but the big stage will be in Asheville, North Carolina for the 2012 Southern Conference Tournament. After bowing out in their first game last year, the Mocs have something to prove. And even if they do not get an automatic bid to the big dance, they should have a good enough resume to send out the big four in a postseason tournament of some sort.


Read the in-depth men’s basketball preview of this team