(GoMocs.com) CHATTANOOGA—Autumn is in full swing, if you can ignore 80+ degree temperatures opening the month of November. While the weather may not be cooperating, a constant remains as the Chattanooga Mocs men’s basketball season is ready to get underway.
The 2016 Southern Conference Champions, and winners of a school-record 29 contests, return to McKenzie Arena Friday night, Nov. 4, for an exhibition game against the Covenant Scots. Game time is 7 p.m., as fans get their first look at the 2016-17 model.
“I hope our fans and students are as excited as we are to get started,” coach Matt McCall said. “The work ethic has been off the charts since we left the floor last March (after the NCAA Tournament). This is a hungry group. We know this is a new season and a new challenge. It’s a new team with a lot ahead of it.
“We can’t wait to take the floor Friday.”
And what a model it is. Four returning starters dot the lineup along with seven total players with a direct impact on a historic season. Five starters really when you count Casey Jones, who missed all but the opening eight games with an ankle injury.
This group was picked to repeat as Southern Conference Champions with Tre’ McLean selected as preseason Player of the Year.
“Right now, we just need to be locked in on getting better every day,” McCall continued. “We need to be focused on being the most connected team in the country. That’s what carried us last year, and it serves us well now.”
There will be one delay reaching the court, however. Senior Chuck Ester sustained a knee injury in practice and won’t take the floor Friday evening.
“Chuck is out indefinitely,” McCall added. “He’s a terrific player we’ll miss on the court. We need to be a resilient group as move ahead without him on the floor.
“He’ll still be a big part of who we are, and who we become.”