The University of Tennessee-Chattanooga Microsoft Office Communicators doesn't exactly roll off the tongue does it?
What about the UTC Mars Orbiter Cameras? Or the UTC Macedonian Orthodox Church?
Casual observers of UTC athletics will have to dig a little deeper than Wikipedia to discover the mystery behind the UTC mascot. A Tennessee state history book might do the trick.
The athletic department at UTC has faced identity crisis since the inception of the program. Since the 1920's, the Moccasins represented UTC on the field and hardwood. Tennessee's Cherokee history supplied the impetus for the name.
Since the 1920's,UTC struggled with an appropriate logo for the Moccassins. UTC employed a Water Moccasin snake initially, in the 20's, eventually switching to a shoe (yes a Moccasin) to strike fear into their opponent's hearts during the 50's and 60's.
UTC kicked the shoe in the 70's in favor of Chief Moccanooga, an exaggerated Cherokee tribesman incorporating their previous nickname with the city's name. The on-going criticism against stereotyped Native American mascots reached UTC in 1996 and the school dropped Chief Moccanooga from the payroll.
After this most recent identity crisis, UTC administrators aimed to create a logo everyone in the region could relate to and appreciate. Using the base of their previous name, UTC transformed Moccasins to Mockingbirds, the state bird of Tennessee. The new logo places Scrappy, a mockingbird named for legendary football coach A.C. "Scrappy" Moore, riding a train.
Chattanooga's place on the Tennesee River made it an essential trading post for farmers attempting to move their products out of the Tennessee River Valley. Its location also serves as an important link between North and South.
The railroads that sprouted up and around Chattanooga transformed the city from a few markets into a thriving city with hotels, saloons, and warehouses to entertain tourists and store traders' materials.
In trying to unite the region, UTC's decision to include the railroad was a no brainer.
Now that we have the mascot ironed out, lets turn our focus to later tonight at Mizzou Arena.
The Mocs make their second trip to Columbia in as many years. Last year, the Tigers handled the Mocs in a 103-75 victory that saw DeMarre Carroll and Leo Lyons combine for 46 points. However, Carroll now shares the Volunteer State with UTC as a member of the Memphis Grizzlies.
No matter for the Tigers. In their first two games, MU illustrated the strong cornerstones of a Mike Anderson lead team even with the departure of the two big men. MU has established a feeling of dominance in these two games, controlling the tempo in every aspect and running their "Fastest 40 Minutes" to perfection. MU has out rebounded their opponents 92-63, forced them into 43 turnovers, and held opponents to 32 percent shooting.
All the while, MU has used 42 assists in those games to spur their now signature lopsided scoring runs, including a 46-5 run to end the first half Sunday against Texas Pan-American.
To be as dominant as the first two games, the Tigers must contain UTC guards Keegan Bell and Josh Odem. These two Mocs have shot 55 percent and 41 percent respectively in their first three contests, accounting for over a fourth of UTC's 80.2 points per game.
Although defensive specialist JT Tiller remains questionable for tonight's contest, Zaire Taylor and back court mates Michael Dixon and Marcus Denmon, should not have a problem keeping these guards in-check.
In addition to stopping the Moc's three point shooters, MU must pound the ball down low. UTC starts only one player of considerable height, that being 7'1, 225 lb Jeremy Saffore, a redshirt junior. The Tennessee tandem of Keith Ramsey and Laurence Bowers, listed at 6'9 and 6'8, should easily give their home state a good dose of baby hooks and turnaround jumpers.
Mockingbirds may pride themselves on being "swooping down on a predator venturing too close to their territory" (www.gomocs.com), but Kimmie English & Company will be waiting at Mizzou Arena to shoot them out of the sky.
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