Bubby Johnson

Contributing Writer

The first three games for the Division II Florida Southern Mocs are all against Division I programs.

Last year’s success brought the men’s basketball team to the Elite Eight, which surprised some fans.

However, the start of the 2013-2014 season could come as more of a surprise as the Mocs faced off with Florida Gulf Coast University, University of Florida and University of Tennessee.

That makes two SEC opponents, two teams that made it to the NCAA Tournament last year, and a preseason top 25 team.

“It will be fun,” says Assistant Coach Richard Davis.

Richard Davis, joins the Florida Southern Mocs this year, but is no newcomer to Head Coach Linc Darner.

“Playing for coach and now coaching with him, I see a lot of his same tendencies,” Davis said “It only makes sense he would look to schedule these games.”

When asked what game is he looking forward to most out of the three, Davis responded:

“All of them. As a coach I love seeing the guys finally get it, seeing things click. Each game brings something different to the table and gives us a chance to get better,”
Darner said. “We went into the games trying to gain experience and they gave us a chance to go up against different looks that we might not get to see during the regular season. It also helps getting some extra cash for the program.”

Darner expressed the emphasis to “play our game.” The Mocs do not look to change the plan to try to beat UF and UT, but simply execute what the Mocs are known for.

“When we are going to press, and get up and down the floor, we are going to run,” Darner said.

Starting guards from last year’s Elite Eight team Tyler Kelly and Dominic Lane can give a testimony to the playing style of the Mocs.

“We practice hard, and we play hard,” Kelly said.

Lane added, “We have a lot of talent this year, and I think we are even better than last year. If the returners, including myself, can lead by example and get all the new guys on the same page, we will be dangerous.”

Co-Captain Garrett Putman says that, “More than anything I am just happy to get back on the court.”

Garrett is a red shirt senior, and missed last year’s action due to an injury.

“This is my senior year, and it means a lot to get these big games to start the season,” Putman said.

Both seniors and captains Putman and Lane said the only way to end their collegiate career is with a National        Championship.

From the coaching staff to the players, even down to some loyal fans in the “Snake Pit,” anything short of a National Championship for the Mocs will be a disappointment.

“This year, we do not want to make it back to the Elite Eight. We want more,” Darner said.

Lane added, “This is my senior year. I want to leave with a ring, and since the conference does not give them out, I guess I have to win it all. Last year, we got to the Elite Eight and got complacent, now we know what to expect and just need to stay hungry.”

“Those three games helped to keep us humble and prepare for the season ahead, it’s great,” Garrett concluded.

Florida Southern saw some good things in their scrimmage against FGCU, and ended up tying with the Eagles. The team traveled to Gainesville to face UF Nov. 1 at 7 p.m., and turned around the next day to end the preseason against UT at 1 p.m.

Both first halves were very promising, seeing the Mocs only trail by nine against Florida and four to Tennessee.

Junior guard Kevin Capers led FSC in scoring averaging 22 points on the weekend.

They say a journey of a 1,000 miles starts with a single step, and the Mocs hope the first 3 games of the year will begin their journey to a National Championship.