New Lady Mocs coach Jim Foster quietly directs his first UTC practice

New Lady Mocs coach Jim Foster quietly directs his first UTC practice

October 1st, 2013 by John Frierson in Sports - College

UTC basketball guard Meghan Downes (12) and forward Ansley Chilton (30) run past new head coach Jim Foster during the Lady Mocs' first official practice for the 2013-14 season Monday at the Chattem facility on campus.

Photo by C. B. Schmelter/Times Free Press.

The first thing that stands out is the difference in sound inside the Chattem Practice Facility.

New University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women's basketball coach Jim Foster, who conducted his first full practice with his team Monday, spoke to the Lady Mocs like he's running a session in a public library, hardly going above a whisper.

His predecessor, Wes Moore, spoke as if practice was being held in a west Texas windstorm. It wasn't always mean or angry, just loud.

"Coach Foster has a very different coaching style than Coach Moore," UTC sophomore guard Tatianna Jackson said after Monday's practice. "He's more laid back."

A more laid-back demeanor? Yes. Lower standards? No.

Foster has undoubtedly seen and done just about everything in his decades as a women's basketball coach. The Hall of Famer, who is preparing for his 36th season, did have a first Monday: It was his first full practice with his new team since being hired in May.

There might have been some jitters or moments of anticipation for the man with 783 career wins -- that's 50 more than UTC (733) has all-time -- but following summer and fall workouts with the Lady Mocs, Monday was more of a continuation than a starting point.

"Now that you're in the gym with them in the summer and the fall, that just makes a big difference," Foster said. "You know them better, they know you better -- and that's good."

As for his assessment of the first practice: "They had a lot of energy, and that's what you expect on the first day."

The team wasn't at 100 percent and won't be for a little while. Three of the defending Southern Conference regular-season and tournament champions' six seniors -- post players Taylor Hall (shoulder), Ashlen Dewart (foot) and Faith Dupree (knee) -- didn't practice.

Hall, who said she has a pinched nerve, is UTC's No. 2 returning scorer with 9.2 points a game last season. Dewart led the team with 15.3 and also led with 7.2 rebounds. Hall said being out was a disappointing way to start practice, especially with a new coach.

"It's frustrating, for sure," she said. "I'd rather be in there and be involved."

Foster said the players should miss only a week or so of practice, and in their absence other players, including some of UTC's six freshmen, will get extra work.

"They get out there and get to process things quicker," Foster said. "It's good for them."

Besides the 10 returning players and assistant coach Katie Burrows, UTC had another familiar face in the practice facility. Former Lady Mocs All-SoCon guard Jenaya Wade-Fray (2007-11) has joined Foster's staff as a student coach. Wade-Fray, a Bermuda native who played for Great Britain in the 2012 London Olympics, is in graduate school.

Contact John Frierson at jfrierson@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6268. Follow him at twitter.com/MocsBeat.