published Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

UTC Lady Mocs must 'analyze' shortcomings

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    University of Tennessee at Chattanooga basketball coach Wes Moore
    Photo by Brett Clark

It's one thing for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women's basketball team to lose in the Southern Conference tournament. That happened from time to time even when the Lady Mocs were dominating the league.

It's another thing when they get run out of the building, as they did Sunday against Appalachian State. The Mountaineers were more aggressive, more athletic, more powerful and much more successful in their 77-52 semifinal win at the U.S. Cellular Center.

The loss, one of several to SoCon teams the past two seasons in which UTC couldn't match the opponents' level of aggression or physicality, will prompt a lot of offseason evaluations, coach Wes Moore said.

In the postgame news conference and a one-on-one conversation with the Times Free Press, Moore said things like "regroup," "take a look at" and "find a way" numerous times.

UTC won 22 games and finished third in the conference, with wins over co-champions Appalachian State and Davidson, yet Moore made it clear that change was needed for what was until two years ago the league's dominant program for more than a decade.

"The league's a lot more athletic, more physical, and the new coaches have done a great job," Moore said. "We've got to sit down and look at: Is it your recruiting needs? Is it making them tougher through drills and things you do in practice to prepare them for that type of game?"

Perhaps no statistic summed up Sunday's loss and the Lady Mocs' present predicament better than the points in the paint. ASU had a 42-14 advantage down low.

"It doesn't matter what [system] you're running when they killed us on the paint and on the boards," Moore said. "We're not as strong and physical as we need to be."

The Lady Mocs have been very effective over the years with their four-out, one-in offensive system. But in 2011-12, Whitney Hood sometimes struggled down low -- App State held her to three shots and two points -- and UTC hit only 30.3 percent of its 3-pointers.

Moore said he will have to look at everything this offseason, including his philosophies, after going without a SoCon regular season or tournament title two years in a row.

"You've got to look at it. There's no doubt, you've got to look at everything at this point," he said. "Again, you hate to let one game or whatever ... but last year I looked at it as a hiccup. Well, now it's back-to-back years and, OK, we may need to look at all of it."

Moore has said several times the past few seasons that his team is comprised of very nice players, but perhaps they're a little too nice. Kylie Lambert, who averaged 8.7 points and 5.9 rebounds as a junior this season, said intensity was the key.

"Our intensity, I don't feel like it was a high as it should have been," she said. "That's why we need to come in in the offseason and work hard. That way we can compete."

The Lady Mocs lose two starters in Hood and Tenisha Townsend from this year's team, plus reserve forward Capriee Tucker. Alex Black likely will take over for Townsend at point guard next season, and UTC has post players Faith Dupree and App State transfer Ashlen Dewart for two more seasons.

"It'll take a while to get over it, and like I said, we've got to learn from it," Moore said of the disappointing end to the season. "The staff, the players -- we all have to analyze where we are and what we're doing."

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

about John Frierson...

John Frierson is in his seventh year at the Times Free Press and seventh year covering University of Tennessee at Chattanooga athletics. The bulk of his time is spent covering Mocs football, but he also writes about women’s basketball and the big-picture issues and news involving the athletic department. A native of Athens, Ga., John grew up a few hundred yards from the University of Georgia campus. Instead of becoming a Bulldog he attended Ole ...

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