published Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

Faith Dupree set for 'weird' return to Thompson-Boling Arena

  • photo
    Faith Dupree shoots free throws during practice at UTC's McKenzie Arena on Tuesday.
    Photo by Alex Washburn /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Faith Dupree expects tonight's visit to Thompson-Boling Arena to be a little "weird."

Dupree, who's from Knoxville, began her college basketball career at the University of Tennessee before transferring to the Chattanooga campus last January.

"Playing against them, I don't think so," the sophomore forward said of the Lady Vols, "but playing in front of their fans again, it will be kind of weird."

Dupree played in two games as a UT freshman during the 2009-10 season before a back injury forced her to redshirt. She then had to sit out another year after transferring and finally became eligible to play for UTC (8-3) last month.

Among her former teammates on the sixth-ranked Lady Vols (9-3), Dupree said she remains in touch with Alicia Manning, Kamiko Williams and Taber Spani, though they don't talk frequently.

"I'm excited about the game," she said. "I'll get to see them again and get to see how we play against them and how we compete against a top-ranked team."

The buzz word at UTC's practices this week was "compete." The Lady Mocs didn't do a very good job of it at UT last season in a 103-43 loss, nor was coach Wes Moore satisfied with their effort in a 91-31 loss at No. 1 Baylor earlier this season.

"Last year in Knoxville we didn't compete. This year in Waco, we didn't compete," Moore said. "I understand -- No. 1 in the country, whatever -- but compete. Play for 40 minutes; don't back down; don't be intimidated by the name on the jersey.

"That's what this program has been built on. This team's got to learn to do that -- fight that fight."

Moore said he hasn't been in contact with UT coach Pat Summitt since she revealed in August that she'd been diagnosed with early-onset dementia, though he did writer her a letter.

"It's still hard to believe. I saw Pat Summitt coaching for 10-15 more years, as long as she wanted, so it's sad," he said. "If anybody can fight the battle, she can. Just like we're talking about, she's going to compete and we need to be like Pat. We need to compete."

Dupree, who admits she's still trying to get rid of the rust from a two-year layoff, has averaged 5.5 points and 2.3 rebounds in her four games with UTC.

"I guess for being out as long as I have been, it's all right," she said of her performance. "Obviously I want to be doing better."

She'll get another chance tonight in a familiar place, against some familiar faces.

Contact John Frierson at jfrierson@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6268. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/mocsbeatCTFP.

about John Frierson...

John Frierson is in his seventh year at the Times Free Press and seventh year covering University of Tennessee at Chattanooga athletics. The bulk of his time is spent covering Mocs football, but he also writes about women’s basketball and the big-picture issues and news involving the athletic department. A native of Athens, Ga., John grew up a few hundred yards from the University of Georgia campus. Instead of becoming a Bulldog he attended Ole ...

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