The Mocs loss to Radford was the first of Will Wade's career. It was also the first time the Mocs have faced true adversity under Wade.
So, a day later, what do we make of this disappointment?
First of all, it doesn't particularly matter. The Mocs were never going to go unbeaten. The Mocs need to be playing their absolute best basketball in March to get to the NCAA Tournament, and learning lessons early in the year will do nothing but help them in that goal.
I was very disappointed in the Mocs defense last night. They did force seventeen turnovers. But the Highlanders did shoot 51.8% from the floor and exactly 50% from three point range. That from one of the worst shooting teams in the country a year ago and not exactly hot shooters in the opener.
However, they were very hurt by the new rules, as Z Mason spent a large chunk of the game in foul trouble. With the lack of interior size on this squad, they simply can't afford to have Mason spend nights in foul trouble.
Greg Pryor looked very good as point guard. There aren't pure shooters on this team, but there are quite a few drivers. Pryor and McGhee both are excellent are driving to the hoop.
So, now that the obvious has been reviewed, what to make of an early season loss?
Quite simply- it is what it is. A Mocs win would have told us a lot more about where the Mocs are right now than a loss tells us about where the Mocs aren't. The Mocs have struggled on the road in the past. But in this one, they fought and struggled and clawed to hang around in the game. They did not give up. That was nice to see. A win would have made it obvious that the Mocs were better than was expected and told us that they were on the rise.
A loss tells us that there is plenty of room for improvement, but gives us hope that the Mocs may be able to get there by March. There is plenty of work to be done. But when you watch this team, you can see how they are still growing into the Chaos system that Will Wade is trying to implement. Once they figure out how to do this thing, they will be much improved.
A loss tells us that the Mocs are not quite ready for primetime, and the tape is going to be very helpful for the Mocs to watch and figure out where to improve.
Really, the early season loss just puts a little bit more importance on these next two games. If the Mocs can win at home against Montreat and Kennesaw State, then they will be 3-1 before their West Coast swing.
Let me begin to put a little pressure on everyone to get out to the Kennesaw State game next Tuesday. The Mocs play the Owls that night. That is the only home game against a D1 opponent until the Dr Pepper Classic on December 29. There is only one other home game between that November 19 and December 29- against Hiwassee. So if you want to get a good up close look at these Mocs in McKenzie before the Dr Pepper Classic- this is your chance. Go see the Mocs next Tuesday night!