CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. --- The 2013-14 women’s basketball team lost no steam despite an upheaval at the helm.
In May last year, newly hired Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics David Blackburn announced that the winningest coach in Chattanooga and Southern Conference history was being replaced by 2013 Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame inductee Jim Foster.
The Mocs posted a 29-4 overall record under Foster’s watchful eye, matching a school record for wins, and went undefeated through the Southern Conference slate with an 18-0 mark. UTC went on to claim the Southern Conference title and advance to the NCAA Tournament for the 12th time since 1989. Foster was named the Tennessee Sports Writers Association Coach of the Year for the third time in his career, receiving the honor twice at Vanderbilt.
“We were very fortunate to get someone of Jim’s caliber to fill the position,” Blackburn said. “It was a very attractive job and we had a lot of applicants, but it was really a no-brainer to get him in here and continue UTC’s tradition of excellence in women’s basketball. We look forward to many more quality years with Coach Foster.”
The extension to Foster’s contract now runs five years through the 2018-19 season.
“I enjoy working with David,” Foster said. “It’s an opportunity to watch his and the chancellor’s vision for what is the university’s future.”
Foster was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame shortly after he was announced as UTC’s head coach. Last summer he started a four-year stint as chair of USA Basketball U19 committee and this year became the 11th coach in NCAA history to amass 800 career victories. He is one of just two coaches to win at least 200 games at three institutions and this year became the first to take four different teams to the NCAA Tournament.
Foster started his career at St. Joseph’s in his hometown of Philadelphia. After 13 seasons, 248 wins and six NCAA appearances from 1984-1991, he moved on to Vanderbilt University. In 11 seasons, he led the Commodores to 256 wins, three SEC titles, 10 NCAA Tournament appearances, a trip to the Final Four in 1993.
In 2002 he accepted the post at Ohio State. He led the Buckeyes to 279 wins and just 82 losses over 11 years (.772) and 10 NCAA Tournament appearances. He was a four-time Big 10 Coach of the Year at Ohio State and was selected the Coach of the Year in 1993 while at Vanderbilt by the United State Basketball Writers Association.
Foster had a loaded roster to help with the transition at Chattanooga, but it was the emergence of Taylor Hall (New Tazewell, Tenn.) that forged the new offensive set. Hall became the first player in Southern Conference history to be named the league’s Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and SoCon Tournament Most Outstanding Player. She received an invitation to try out with the WNBA Seattle Storm and was named the Southern Conference Female Athlete of the Year.
Hall was joined on the coaches All-Conference team by teammates Ashlen Dewart (Spartanburg, S.C.) and Alex Black (Memphis, Tenn.) while starting point guard Chelsea Shumpert (Louisville, Ky.) was selected to the SoCon All-Freshman team.
The highlights of the season included a 25-game win streak along with a 39-game home court win streak, which is currently the longest active run in NCAA Division I. Along with 18 league wins, Chattanooga posted victories over Alabama, Auburn and UAB and started the win streak defeating Colorado State in the final game of the University of Hawai’i Classic.
In the classroom, all six of UTC’s seniors earned their degrees. Hall and sophomore Alicia Payne (Memphis, Tenn.) were named to the SoCon Winter All-Academic Team. In the fall semester, eight student-athletes earned a spot on the Dean’s List and were joined by three more on the Athletics Director’s Honor Roll. In the spring, 11 student-athletes were named to the Dean’s List with three more making the Athletics Director’s Honor Roll.
In the community, the Mocs participated in the Postsecondary Awareness With Success (PAWS) program. The team went to the Brown Academy and worked with students in the aftercare program. The program is aimed at getting fourth and fifth graders excited about college.
Chattanooga continued to lead the Southern Conference in attendance averaging 2,176 and topping the 2,000 mark six times including twice hosting more than 3,000 fans. The Mocs were ranked 58th in the NCAA for attendance averaging more than five schools in the SEC and nine ACC institutions. The second closest school in the SoCon was nearby Samford who averaged 553 fans per game.
The Mocs return eight student-athletes next season. One transfer along with three freshmen will join the squad next season as Chattanooga makes a bid for another Southern Conference title.