It’s a new day.
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women’s basketball team held its first official practice of the 2013-14 season Monday afternoon at the Chattem Basketball Practice Facility to usher in the Jim Foster Era.
The Lady Mocs return 10 players, including three starters, from last year’s Southern Conference regular season and tournament championship team that went 29-4 on the year, tying a school record for wins. UTC closed out the regular season on a 16-game win streak – all in the Southern Conference – and added three more wins in the league tournament for a 19-game win streak that was fourth best in school history.
Newcomers abound for Chattanooga as well. While six freshmen join the squad this season, the biggest change has come on the bench. 2013 Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame inductee Jim Foster takes over for Wes Moore who left UTC after 15 seasons for NC State.
Foster has 35 years of experience as a collegiate head coach with a 783-307 (.718) overall record. He is the fifth head coach of the women’s program in UTC history.
He recently completed his 11th season at Ohio State in 2012-13. His experience also consists of stops at Vanderbilt and St. Joseph's (Pa.) universities. The Abington, Pa., native has guided his teams to 27 postseason appearances (26 NCAA tournaments). He is just the second collegiate coach - men's or women's at any level - to win at least 200 games at three different schools.
Foster was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame on June 8, 2013, in Knoxville, Tenn.
Assistant Coach and former Lady Moc Katie Burrows remained on staff, and is joined by newcomers Brittany Johnson (Ohio State, 2011) and John McCray (Ohio State, 2011). Also joining the staff as a student coach is former Lady Moc and Olympian Jenaya Wade-Fray (Chattanooga, 2009).
Six seniors hit the floor for the Lady Mocs this season including 6-foot-3 center Ashlen Dewart (Spartanburg, S.C.) who was selected to the all-conference squad by both the coaches and media and named the SoCon Tournament Most Outstanding Player. Forward Taylor Hall (New Tazewell, Tenn.) also returns. The all-conference and all-tournament performer led Chattanooga to a semifinal win over Appalachian State sinking 11-of-11 free throws in the second half. All-tournament pick Alex Black (Memphis, Tenn.) returns at the point for the Mocs.
Also returning this season are seniors Faith Dupree (Knoxville, Tenn.) who started the first three game before being sidelined with a knee injury, Meghan Downes (Newnan, Ga.) who hit a season-high 24 points against East Tennessee State off the bench and Destiny Bramblett (Radcliff, Ky.) who went 11-of-11 from the free throw line over her first three games.
Juniors Ka’Vonne Towns (Lilburn, Ga.) and Kayla Freeman (Carlton, Ga.) along with sophomores Tatianna Jackson (Atlanta, Ga.) and Alicia Payne (Memphis, Tenn.) provide experience along with depth on a large team. Jackson was an all-freshman team selection by the coaches and media last year.
The season opens November 8 against Alabama at the McKenzie Arena in the second game of a double-header with the men’s team who will host Covenant College. Season tickets are available at the McKenzie Arena box office with limited reserved seating available at all women’s home games for the first time. Call the box office at 423-266-MOCS (6627) or online at GoMocs.com.