Wes Moore knew it during the regular season and as his University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women's basketball team lost by 25 points in a Southern Conference tournament semifinal.
Thursday's 60-59 season-ending loss to Memphis in the first round of the Women's NIT only confirmed his thinking.
"Losing close games and not being able to finish them out, it comes down to toughness," the Lady Mocs' coach said.
Moore said the Lady Mocs, who finished the season 22-10, need to improve their mental and physical toughness in the offseason. That way UTC won't give up 22 offensive rebounds, including an offensive rebound and game-winning putback in the closing seconds, as it did against Memphis.
The Tigers' Jasmine Lee grabbed her 11th offensive rebound and scored with 6.2 seconds left to beat UTC. Lee finished with 20 points and 16 rebounds.
"We've got to get tougher, got to get stronger and we've got to do the little things," Moore said. "When you're losing close games, it's a possession -- one possession and you're there.
"We used to make those plays; we used to not lose focus or relax on a possession. We used to make every possession important. I just feel like right now we don't have that focus and that attention to detail."
To borrow a sentiment expressed by Rick Pitino when he coached the Boston Celtics: Alex Anderson isn't walking through that door; Shanara Hollinquest isn't walking through that door.
Anderson and Hollinquest were both two-time SoCon players of the year, and they were the tough and tenacious playmakers who made the difference in tight games. Without players like that, UTC hasn't been closing out as many wins, especially in the SoCon.
"I'm not saying there weren't things I couldn't have done different or that I coached a perfect game last night by any means," Moore said Friday. "But over two years time, this group has not won the big game. They've come close, but they hadn't closed out the big game."
As UTC heads into the offseason, Moore said everyone -- himself included -- needs to "take a look in the mirror" and see where improvements can be made. After back-to-back seasons without a SoCon title or postseason win, a lot of work has to be done -- in the gym, the weight room and between the ears -- during the months ahead to get the program back to the top of the league.
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 ...