By: Amanda Reno
Chattanooga, TN (UTC)– Even though the UTC Mocs men’s basketball team lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament, fans and a well known comedian applauded the team’s hard work and dedication.
The Mocs got their 15 minutes of stardom after late night host Jimmy Fallon adopted the team as his own after learning that the 16th seeded Mocs were playing UConn in the first round of the tournament.
After an upsetting loss, the Mocs were unsure of how Fallon would react to the less than surprising upset. However, Head Coach John Shulman said he was grateful for the way that the late night host treated the team after the loss to number one seeded Connecticut.
“It is unbelievable,” Shulman said. “We played the worst basketball game we could possibly play against future NBA guys, and I was concerned about what they were going to do that night.” However, Shulman said Fallon handled it with class.
Shulman and captain Zach Ferrel said they appreciated Fallon’s national support and exposure and think it will do great things for recruiting.
Shulman lamented that he was initially reluctant to be on the show because he wanted to protect his players, and he also wanted to avoid any further embarrassment. However, since Fallon assured Coach Shulman that his intentions are good, Shulman said he hopes Fallon will continue to support the Mocs in the future.
The late night host invited Shulman and his six seniors to “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” the night after the big loss to UConn, March 20. “They were all super excited for us to be there and just supportive,” Ferrel said. “I didn’t feel like they were trying to make fun or anything at all.”
When Shulman and the seniors were recognized, Jimmy Fallon said that he wanted to get together after the show. Shulman said he came over and spoke with them for 30 minutes and was very genuine. Shulman said he thanked Fallon and the writers because they could have “buried” them, but instead were supportive.
After their meeting, Shulman let Fallon know that the Mocs will make it to the Big Dance next year, and this would not be the last time they would be seeing each other.
Shulman has been in contact with Fallon since the show, and is hoping Fallon will make a Chattanooga appearance and help kick off the 2009 basketball season.
To view a video clip of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon featuring the Mocs, click the link below.