With a 12-player roster that includes six juniors and two seniors, time is growing short for most of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women's basketball team.
Seniors Kylie Lambert and Kayla Christopher got to experience Southern Conference regular-season and tournament championships and a trip to the NCAA tournament during their freshman year. The Lady Mocs have been shut out since then, and earning another ring and returning to the NCAAs is a top priority.
Christopher, a senior shooting guard, is UTC's top returning scorer (9.4 points per game). She started the Lady Mocs' last NCAA game, a 70-63 loss to Oklahoma State in March 2010, and said she feels a sense of urgency to get back there.
"I really believe so," she said. "Especially for me and Kylie, in our freshman year we got to the NCAA tournament, and we're the only ones on the team with that know what it feels like. For me, I want to be able to show them that this is really what it's about. This is what we need to be about."
Junior forward Taylor Hall averaged 9.1 points and 8.5 rebounds a game last season, her first full season with the Lady Mocs. UTC coach Wes Moore said Hall, as well as junior center Faith Dupree, really put in a lot of work in the offseason. With All-SoCon forward Whitney Hood gone, UTC will need more from Hall, Dupree and the rest of the post players.
Moore said he has seen signs of urgency, especially among the juniors who have yet to win a ring or play in the NCAAs, and he hopes it carries over to the next few weeks of practice and the regular season.
The Lady Mocs spent last week working exclusively on offense -- the previous week was defense -- and began regular practice Monday at the Chattem practice facility. Christopher said it was a good way to start the season.
"I think it was really cool to do it, and it was like we had a couple of weeks to get adjusted before they throw everything at us," Christopher said. "We've got our fundamentals down and we got to break down a lot of things that we probably wouldn't get to break down during a regular practice."
UTC opens its season Nov. 9 against Tennessee at McKenzie Arena.
Contact John Frierson at email@example.com or 423-757-6268. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/mocsbeatCTFP.