Saturday, April 19, 2014 · 1:33 p.m.
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Chattanooga's Ronrico White made his season debut in Tuesday night's win over Hiwassee. (Photo: Billy Weeks)

Chattanooga men’s basketball coach Will Wade has likened junior Ronrico White to an old car on a couple of occasions, meaning that what may have been a durable automobile only has so much life left in its engine. 

That’s simply the harsh reality of the situation for White, a 6-foot-3 guard who underwent offseason hip surgery to repair some occupational wear and tear. 

“The best way to look at it is like an old car,” Wade said. “He’s only got so much mileage left on the hips.”

In Tuesday night’s underwhelming 86-68 win over Hiwassee, White got his first taste of action of 2013-14, coming off the bench in the closing minutes to simply “knock the cobwebs off,” according to Wade. 

White’s return to the floor—a mere five minutes—was more or less a test drive. He’s not quite road ready just yet. 

White averaged 10.2 points per game as a sophomore in 2012-13. (Photo: Billy Weeks)

“We wanted to get him some action; knock the rust off where it wasn’t a real pressurized situation.” Wade said. “We didn’t want his first action to be where we’re on the road in a conference game and we need him to play really well. 

“We’ll see how he feels and let him be the barometer of what we do.”

Continuing with the “old car” analogy, deciding how and when to use those remaining miles is going to be a challenge, one that’ll require a delicate balance on the part of both Wade and White.

“We try to conserve him in practice, but there’s a certain baseline he has to meet to be able to prepare to play,” Wade said. “We try to keep it at that baseline and allow him to feel comfortable and get into the flow of practice, but not waste a ton of miles in practice.”

That’s a strange concept to White, who, when it comes to practice, pretty much feels the exact opposite of former NBA star Allen Iverson.

“I’m more concerned about practice; getting back into the rhythm in practice, and worrying about that before the game,” White said. “The games, we only have 32 games but over 200 practices. I want to get it going in practice before I worry about the games.”

There’s no official timetable for White’s return to the rotation, or when/if he’ll be re-inserted into the Mocs’ starting lineup. It’s more of a touch-and-go situation. 

“I don’t know whether he’ll play Sunday or not,” Wade said. “Or he might not play again for another month. I just don't know. ... He meets with Todd Bullard, our athletic trainer, every morning, and they go through some therapy and some other exercising. [White] kind of gives him a soreness scale, how he feels, and we decide what he’s going to do in practice.” 

White’s more than ready to get back on the floor on a more consistent basis, but he’s probably not going to rush it. Patience is just one of the traits he’s picked up over the past six months.

“I’ve been on crutches, laying in the bed and you can’t move because of the hips,” White said. “I’m the master of patience now.”

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

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