The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and Wofford will kick off the Southern Conference women's basketball season tonight at McKenzie Arena. According to UTC coach Wes Moore, defending regular-season champions Appalachian State and Davidson are again the teams to beat.
"Both of those teams finished in first, and they both have pretty much everybody back," Moore said. "I think you start there and then the rest of us, there's still question marks and things to be answered."
For UTC, (4-1), it's main question mark involves the post, where the Lady Mocs are still adjusting to playing without center Faith Dupree, who will be out a couple of months with a knee injury.
UTC played two games without Dupree last week at the Saint Mary's Thanksgiving Classic in California, beating Portland State and losing to St. Mary's.
"I think we're still searching a little bit and trying to figure it out," said Moore, who is in his 15th season at UTC and has a SoCon record of 222-42.
Appalachian State coach Darcie Vincent said it's a senior-heavy league this season, and because of that the SoCon should be very competitive. The Mountaineers have three of the top seniors in Anna Freeman, Courtney Freeman (sister of UTC's Kayla Freeman) and Kelsey Sharkey.
"I think it's going to be a fun season," Vincent said. "I think it's going to be a phenomenal because it's such a senior-based season. There are a lot of seniors on a lot of teams and they're going to be fighting for this championship."
The Lady Mocs have a pair of seniors in guard Kayla Christopher and wing Kylie Lambert. Christopher was named the SoCon Student-Athlete of the Week on Wednesday following her 27-point performance against St. Mary's last Saturday.
Samford, which won the SoCon tournament last season, has two seniors, as well. Bulldogs coach Mike Morris said his team, with seven freshmen or sophomores, is definitely a work in progress at this point.
"I really hope so because we're not very good right now," said Morris, who's team is 3-2. "I hope we're a lot better when January rolls around."
The Lady Mocs will play four of its first six SoCon games at home, which means it's critical, Moore said, that they get off to a strong start in league play. UTC went 13-0 at the Roundhouse last season.