Q&A with Will Wade and Johnny Taylor

Chattanooga Head Basketball Coach Will Wade

Thoughts on the 2013-14 basketball schedule
“I’m really looking forward to the 2013-14 schedule.  I think it gives us a good blend of some very challenging games while also giving us some games early on that allow us to impose our style of play.  Overall the schedule will be very challenging.  It will give our guys a chance to grow as a team and learn our style of play.  More importantly, I think the schedule this year sets us up really well for the future.  I’m excited about this year’s schedule and thrilled about our future possibilities within the scheduling.  It has freed up a lot of space to enact our scheduling philosophy on future years.  Our scheduling philosophy boils down to three basic points.  I want to play more home, non-conference games than road, non-conference games.  Every two or three years, I want to bring in a BCS team to play in McKenzie Arena.  I want to play as many in state, local teams as possible in the non-conference schedule.  We didn’t have a lot of wiggle room this year within the schedule but you can see part of our philosophy enacted based upon the games we added.  We added a home and home series with UAB which is a regional opponent in Conference USA.  We added Middle Tennessee State University to our non-conference schedule with the Dr. Pepper Classic.  We will return the series to Middle Tennessee next year.  We also have the two-for one-with the University of Georgia.  This will bring an SEC team to the McKenzie Arena in the 2014-15 season.  You can start to see the building of our philosophy and I think in 2014-15 it will really take shape. We are very excited about this year’s schedule.  Like I said, it is very challenging overall but it will give our guys a chance to grow especially early on in the season.”


Coach Wade’s involvement in scheduling at previous positions
“I wasn’t the primary scheduling contact at VCU, however, I did scheduling at Clemson and Harvard.  This is very similar to Harvard.  You only have 14 conference games in the Ivy League so you have to schedule more non-conference games than any other league.  You were scrambling for games at Harvard so they are a better comparison to what we had to do here.  We did a lot things here like we did at Harvard.  At Harvard, we beat Michigan at home and played regional games we could bus to the same day.  We played New Hampshire every year which was an hour and fifteen minute drive.  We had a bunch of regional rivalries .  It drummed up a lot of support for the program.  I think there are a lot of similarities between the two.”

Thoughts on scheduling UCLA
“We inherited the UCLA deal.  That was done by the previous staff.  It is what’s called a four-for-one tournament.  We’ll play at the University of Nevada then at UCLA.  Then, we’ll all meet in Las Vegas along with Missouri and Northwestern.  IUPUI, Gardner-Webb, Morehead State and us will be in a pod against the others. This is part of a four-for-one deal.  We are very excited about going to Pauley Pavilion.  It is a very historic place with a basketball museum.  It will be a neat experience for our guys.  I found out that a lot of our guys haven’t been to the west coast so they will look forward to it.”

On bringing Johnny Taylor on as a student assistant coach
“During my first two weeks on the job, most of my time was spent on the phone. I was calling recruits, different folks around town and one of my points of interest was to call two or three former players within our program. I wanted to get to know those guys, and through that I was able to get Johnny’s number by talking to his teammates and a couple of different people who played with him. I called Johnny up and we spoke just like I had spoken with everybody else. I had no intention of ever doing this when I called him, initially. He was on his back porch in Orlando, Fla., one morning when I called him. We spoke for about 20 or 30 minutes, and over the course of the conversation, Johnny told me his parents still lived in Chattanooga, he wanted to get his degree from Chattanooga and he was interested in possibly getting into coaching since he was finished playing. I told him to give me a couple of days and I would call him back, and my mind started racing because I knew we had a graduate assistant position open. Over the course of the next two days, we quickly found out about all of the paperwork with the NCAA that goes with being a student assistant. I called Johnny back two days later, like we had spoken about, and told him the deal and asked if he would be interested. You could just feel the excitement through the phone. He was very appreciative of the opportunity.”

On getting Taylor enrolled back into the University
“Over the next couple of weeks we had to get him re-enrolled in school. There was a lot of paperwork that went into it. Dr. Emily Blackman, our academic advisor, was very active in getting him enrolled and getting him the classes that he needs. We worked on that over the next couple of weeks and here we are today.”

On having Taylor on staff and what he brings to the Mocs
“It goes without saying that we are thrilled that he is back in Chattanooga. We are thrilled that he wants to be a part of the program and happy to have him within the program. He is going to serve as a mentor for our guys and he is going to spend a ton of time around our players. One thing about our players is that they all want to make it to the NBA or play overseas, and he has been there. He is going to be able to tell those guys what they need to know now rather than later. We are thrilled to have him and happy to have him home.”

Student Assistant Coach Johnny Taylor
On returning to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
“This is a great opportunity for me and I want to thank Coach Wade for giving me this opportunity and allowing me to come back. I am happy to offer something to the program, the kids and the community. I have been quite a few places and been gone a long time, but the timing was just right for me to come back home and give back to the school that embraced me. The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga gave me an opportunity once before when there was a point and time that I didn’t have a school, but UTC stepped up, brought me in and treated me like one of its own. I want to give back what I can.”

On when he decided to become a coach
“The older I got, the more I started playing with a lot of younger guys. I found myself mentoring and telling younger players how to do things differently, and the more I did it the more they told me I should think about coaching. I thought that was a pretty good idea so probably five or six years ago that seed was planted. Once I was finished playing, I was going to work in that area to coach and add another chapter to my resume.”

On coming back to his hometown
“My family is very excited about having me back in Chattanooga. My mom has said for year that she wished I would just come back home, and I wanted to come back home, but my family and everyone is in Orlando and things like that. It’s going to be different, but this way she is going to get to see her grandkids a lot more and I will be running around the house for a little while so she will really enjoy that.”

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