COLLEGE STATION, Texas — The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women’s basketball team arrived in town Thursday and went through a news conference and practice today at Texas A&M’s Reed Arena.
The Lady Mocs are in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2010 — a two-year “hiatus,” as coach Wes Moore has put it — and as the No. 11 seed in the Norfolk Region, UTC will face No. 6-seed Nebraska on Saturday (6:30 p.m. EST/ESPN2).
Here are some quotes, notes and more from today:
Nebraska coach Connie Yori on UTC ... “You don’t win 19 games in a row, you don’t win 29 games without having good players and being a well-coached team. And they have both of those things.”
Nebraska point guard Lindsey Moore on UTC and its win over Tennessee ... “Honestly, we just know that any team entering the NCAA tourney is going to be tough. It’s good for their program to have that win under their best because that will definitely help them in the tournament, and it’s not really a surprise from looking at the scouting report that we’ve gotten.
“They’re a solid team and it kind of makes sense that they could beat a team like Tennessee. They’re a very good team inside and out, so they have a lot of things going for them.”
Lady Mocs coach Wes Moore and seniors Kayla Christopher and Kylie Lambert, as well as junior Ashlen Dewart, participated in the news conference. Here’s some of what they had to say:
Christopher on being back in the tournament ... “It’s really exciting to be back. I kind of forgot about how exciting it was. ... We knew we could get back here. It was a couple of years, but I think it made us a little more hungry to get back here. “
Moore on being an underdog again after the pressure to win the SoCon tournament ... “In our situation, when you’re a mid-major, that conference tournament is a whole lot of pressure. In a way, I hope that they feel a little bit less. I think right now we get to be the hunter and not the hunted, so I think that’s kind of exciting, to trade roles and be the underdog.”
Moore said the Lady Mocs practiced this morning at A&M’s practice facility and UTC had a light workout at Reed Arena. “We’re mostly going to shoot and maybe five-on-zero some of our stuff,” he said before practice.
As for today and the long wait before the 6:30 p.m. EST tipoff, Moore said he wants to make sure the team is fresh. That will likely mean skipping the morning workout.
“We’ll definitely watch film and go over some things in the hotel,” he said.
Between leaving the hotel for shootaround and the pre-game meal, it’s a lot of coming and going, Moore said.
“I want them to be rested, I want a lot of energy and I want them to be excited about playing,” he said.
At the end of his time on the stage, Moore was at his most lively. This is his ninth trip to the NCAA tournament in his 15 seasons at UTC, but the novelty clearly hasn’t worn off for him.
“You know, folks, you don’t understand, yesterday we got a police escort [from campus] to the airport,” he said. “I mean three police vehicles rushing ahead and blocking off intersections. I got a kick out of it more than the players did. I was like, get pictures, get footage.
"Then we step on a charter flight, I mean, come on. When we say charter, [the players] think bus, OK? This is big stuff for us.”
For more Mocs coverage, see tomorrow's Times Free Press. You can also follow beat writer John Frierson on Twitter at twitter.com/mocsbeatCTFP.
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 ...