The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women's basketball team began preseason practice Monday, 40 days before the Lady Mocs' season opener against East Tennessee State.
With two returning starters, five true freshmen and several players who sat out last season, coach Wes Moore and his staff have a lot of ground to cover before taking on the Buccaneers on Nov. 12.
And thanks to the new NCAA rule allowing women's teams to begin practice 40 days before their first game - rather than the traditional start date of Oct. 15 - the coaches have time to do it.
"I've got to try to be smart about it, though," Moore said. "We do have a lot of kids coming off injuries and we don't have the numbers, so I've got to try to pace ourselves, and I think that's where this schedule is benefiting us.
"It is good from a mental standpoint, too, and not having information overload."
The preseason schedule was approved by the nation's coaches, Moore said, because they "felt like it would be better to start earlier and not have to cram everything in and put such a strain on the players physically."
Under the new format, UTC won't have to do any two-a-days as in years past.
UTC practiced about two hours Monday at McKenzie Arena. With the five freshmen, two players back from knee injuries and the addition of Clemson transfer Whitney Hood, the team on the floor looked a lot different than last season's squad.
"I feel a lot more calm and I feel a lot better about the plays," said sophomore guard Kylie Lambert, one of the more experienced players on the team, "and I hope I can help guide the incoming freshmen."
The Lady Mocs will play an exhibition game against Lee University on Nov. 4 and will open their season at home against ETSU on Nov. 12.
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