The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women's basketball team will spend part of today at Alcatraz, the infamous San Francisco Bay prison. The grim conditions that inmates had to endure may give coach Wes Moore the chance to say, "You think I'm tough ...."
UTC's trip to the Bay Area for the St. Mary's Thanksgiving Class, at St. Mary's College, will also give the team some quality bonding time. The Lady Mocs (3-0) left Tuesday and will play Portland State on Friday and St. Mary's on Saturday.
"We do one trip a year like this, and it's obviously a great opportunity for our kids," Moore said. "It's a lot different from the conference tournament, where you're just wall-to-wall basketball for four or five days. This trip we'll be able to experience some things, and we'll have kids that may never get another opportunity to make some of the trips that we make."
Moore said Thanksgiving dinner when UTC last played in the St. Mary's event, nearly a decade ago, took place at the Hard Rock Cafe in Fisherman's Wharf.
For most of the older Lady Mocs, this will be their second Thanksgiving trip to California. In 2010, during the Cal State Northridge Holiday Classic, UTC lost to Wyoming and beat the host Matadors.
For freshman Tatianna Jackson, this is her first big road trip with UTC -- the Lady Mocs beat Belmont in Nashville last week -- but not her first trip to the Golden State. Her father is in the Navy and she was born in San Diego.
"We moved to Japan [from San Diego], and then I moved to Atlanta when I was in fifth grade," she said.
Already a world traveler, this will be Jackson's first Thanksgiving away from home.
"It will be really weird," she said. "I will definitely miss my mom's cooking."
The Lady Mocs will use these two games not only to continue their strong start to the season but also to adjust to playing without Faith Dupree. The 6-foot-3 center will be out at least 10 weeks with a sprained knee.
Dupree made the trip with the team and said her last trip to California came in 2009, when she was redshirting at Tennessee after suffering a back injury.
Contact John Frierson at email@example.com or 423-757-6268. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/mocsbeatCTFP.