Last year, the Mocs basketball team, in their first year under Will Wade, the Mocs began the out of conference schedule 1-8 against D1 competition, and 4-8 overall. Yes, the Mocs then proceeded to win the Dr Pepper Classic and finish 3-8 and 6-8 overall. This year, could the Mocs be in for similar struggles?
Let's begin by looking at what caused the Mocs struggles last year. It was a learning curve for the Mocs as they learned Coach Wade's new system, along with Z Mason struggling with an injury and Rico White being out with an injury as well. It was also some OK schools on the schedule.
So what about this year? Well, this year the Mocs will be without Z Mason. There will be key new contributors, like Tre McLean, Justin Tuoyo, Duke Etheridge and Chuck Ester. They will have to learn about what is expected on gameday and how playing in the system consistently goes. There will also be games against Butler and Wisconsin right off the bat.
There is plenty of room to expect struggles out of this team as they come through the out of conference schedule. The schedule is probably a little bit better than it was a year ago on the whole. There are quality mid-majors dotting the schedule.
The key is not how the team performs in November or December, but how it comes together in January and February.
There will be major questions early in the year if this team struggles, but let's not forget that this team has plenty of time to turn it around in the SoCon. Also, the team is pointing to next year. Next year should be a very good year. This year is still a building block year. We've said all along that year three of the Wade era was when things would start getting very good. We're only in year two.
So during the out of conference schedule this year, patience will be the word of the day.