Faith Dupree and Ashlen Dewart, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women's basketball fifth-year-senior post players, have spent about as much time working out in the pool as they have on the court in recent weeks.
For Dewart (feet) and Dupree (back), it has been a frustrating start to preseason practice. But there is good news for them and the Lady Mocs. Dewart has been cleared to ease back into practice, and Dupree is close to getting cleared.
"I have been doing a lot of pool work and bike stuff, and I feel like that at least gives me an edge," Dupree said before Monday's practice at McKenzie Arena, during which she was able to do some shooting and half-court drills but very little running. "It doesn't give me the conditioning I need, but at least it keeps me breathing hard and keeps my heart rate up.
"I'm just kind of anxiously waiting for the doctor to say go ahead."
Dewart got the go-ahead Monday, which had her smiling as she talked about getting back in the groove.
"There is that transition of getting back into the flow of the game and playing at game speed, which you can't do by watching," said Dewart, who led the Lady Mocs last season with 15.3 points and 7.2 rebounds a game.
An All-Southern Conference player during her first three collegiate seasons -- two at Appalachian State and one at UTC -- Dewart was enjoying her best offseason before being sidelined. Between strength and conditioning work and time on the court with coach Jim Foster and his staff, she was on a roll.
"It was incredibly frustrating because I think for one of the first times in most of my college career, I was keeping up and I was pushing other people," Dewart said. "I wasn't the one dragging or the last one getting up the court, and to have to slow down was really frustrating. Now I have two or three weeks to get back to it, which should be enough."
The Lady Mocs host Lee University in an exhibition game on Nov. 4 and open their season on Nov. 8 against Alabama at the Roundhouse. There's time for Dewart and Dupree to get up to speed, but not a lot. Foster isn't too concerned about it.
"I think because it's such a veteran team, once they adjust to the new, or to what we're doing, it's just a matter of repetition to get comfortable," he said. "I think we'll be fine."
Benefiting from Dewart's and Dupree's absences have been freshman post players Jasmine Joyner and Ansley Chilton and junior Kayla Freeman. They've gotten much more time on the court than they might otherwise have had and have put it to good use.
"I think [Joyner] has definitely gotten better, significantly better," Foster said. "If she keeps up this pace, she's got a pretty bright future for us. She's a pretty quick study."
Lady Mocs senior forward Taylor Hall missed the start of preseason practice with a pinched nerve in her shoulder, but she was out for only a few days.
Contact John Frierson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6268. Follow him at twitter.com/MocsBeat.