Thursday, July 24, 2014 · 10:40 a.m.

Chattanooga is where Will Wade wanted to be

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Will Wade, left, was formally introduced as the 18th head men's basketball coach in UTC school history on Tuesday afternoon. (Photo: Michael Murphy)

In the days after Virginia Commonwealth’s magical NCAA tournament run came to a close, Will Wade, then an assistant for the Rams, was asked by head coach Shaka Smartt o come up with a list of three to five schools. Schools that Wade could envision himself coaching at; places he’d where like to one day be the head men’s basketball coach. 

Will Wade (Photo: Michael Murphy)

As contrived as it sounds, the school at the top of his list truly was Chattanooga. 

“I gave [Smart] three or four different schools, but Chattanooga was No. 1 on the list,” Wade said. “I’ve got a family history here. My cousin [Geep Wade] played football here so I knew about the program. When I was growing up was when the program was in its heyday so to speak, so I remembered that and thought why can’t we do that again.”

Wade was formally introduced by athletic director David Blackburn as UTC’s 18th head men’s basketball coach in school history on Tuesday afternoon, a day which had to feel like a long time coming for the 30-year-old Nashville native, who has had his sights set on coaching the Mocs for more than two years. 

“I know David said he couldn’t be more excited, but I promise you this, there’s nobody more excited in this room than me,” Wade said. “I can guarantee you that.”

Interim head coach Casey Long, standing in the back of said room hours after learning Wade was keeping him on staff, was a close second in level of excitement.

But so too was everyone in attendance as Wade discussed his vision for reviving the UTC men’s basketball program, a course of action that caught Blackburn’s eye during the hiring process. 

“I think it’s important that someone has a belief no matter what business it is, and they work to recruit towards that belief,” Blackburn said before introducing Wade. “Will kept coming to the top.”

Wade’s vision is “Chaos”: A brand of basketball that, if executed correctly, is rather self explanatory—it causes chaos for opposing teams. And who better to bring that relentless, full-court pressure style to Chattanooga than Wade, the architect of VCU’s “Havoc” defense, which famously propelled the Rams’ trip to the 2011 Final Four. 

“I believe all mid-major programs have a brand,” Wade said. “When you think Butler you think shooting. When you think VCU you think ‘Havoc.’ When you think Chattanooga, you’ll think ‘Chaos’. That’s going to be our brand; we’re going to create chaos on both ends of the floor, and we’re going to use chaos as our brand to become one of the premier programs in the Southern Conference. That’s what we’re going to be about.

“In short, we’re going to be a blue-collar, hardworking team,” Wade said. “Offensively we’re going to sprint out in transition, we’re going to shoot the 3-ball, and we’re going to be relentless on the offensive glass. Defensively we’re going to press you for 94 feet and we’re going to guard every floor board.”

The Mocs have the roster for that style, too. The shooting percentages will need to improve—UTC shot just 29 percent from beyond the arc in 2012-13—but as far as long, athletic defenders go, Chattanooga has plenty of those. 

“I’ve got a good idea—not a great idea,” Wade said of the Mocs’ roster. “I know we’re long and we’re athletic, which is all I really care about. I know we’ve got a good mix of some veteran guys. I know the freshman class was really good. I feel good about the pieces in terms of what’s on the roster.”

Wade’s next order of business is finding a couple more assistants to round out his first coaching staff. He wants that done sooner rather than later. 

“Hopefully I can knock [that] off pretty quick,” Wade said. “Then it’s a matter of spending time on campus and getting in the gym with the guys so I can focus more on some basketball things.”

 Michael Murphy covers UTC athletics for Nooga.com. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelNooga.

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