University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women's basketball coach Jim Foster is headed to Lithuania today. He's not off in search of Eastern European prospects, though he'll probably keep his eyes open.
Foster, the recent Women's Basketball Hall of Fame inductee, is the chair of the USA Basketball U-19 national team. He'll be in Lithuania for 10 days teaching basketball clinics while the U-19 World Championships are taking place in the country.
"It's an opportunity to evaluate not only the [U.S.] team we selected but the rest of the world at that age level," Foster said.
Foster's work with USA Basketball has taken him all over the world, including Australia, Croatia and South Korea. He said he's been to nearby Russia but this will be his first visit to Lithuania.
"I'm looking forward to it because it's a great basketball country," he said.
Among the few things Americans might know about basketball in Lithuania is that in 1992 the band Grateful Dead helped finance the men's national team's trip to the Barcelona Olympics. The team famously wore tie-dyed shirts during warmups.
Foster said Tuesday that he had little knowledge of his itinerary during his trip. He also doesn't speak Lithuanian or Russian, so he'll just be going where he's told and trusting his translators to accurately communicate his instructions to the young players.
"It's interesting to do a clinic with an interpreter," he said. "Hopefully they're saying what you're saying."
The Lady Mocs released their 2013-14 schedule last week. It was mostly complete before Foster was hired in May. Three of UTC's first five games are against Southeastern Conference teams (Alabama and Auburn at UTC and a trip to Tennessee). The Lady Mocs also will play eight straight games away from McKenzie Arena in late November and all of December.
"A month's a long time not to be home ... and in the first two weeks we're in the SEC," he said. "It presents interesting challenges."
Foster said he'd like for UTC to host a tournament in the future, whether it's to start the season or around the holidays. The Lady Mocs used to host a Thanksgiving tournament, the last one taking place in 2009.
"It's a good way to get a couple of good Division I teams in here," he said.
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