The NCAA's implementation of limited summer practices for women's basketball teams couldn't have come at a better time for new University of Tennessee at Chattanooga coach Jim Foster and his team.
Foster was hired in May, when the Lady Mocs were back at their homes following the spring semester, and it wasn't until last Tuesday's first practice for the players in summer school that coach and team started to get to know one another.
"I'm looking at who listens and hears and who's coachable," Foster said following Tuesday's workout. "There's a lot of things you find out in individual sessions. I'm a big footwork guy, so we're working hard on footwork."
Foster, who arrives at UTC with 783 career wins, is inheriting a team that returns everyone but Kayla Christopher and Kylie Lambert from a 29-4 season. He said he likes what he's seen so far.
"They're all working hard, they're all listening and they're all walking in with a little bit of what we talked about the last time together," he said. "Not only retaining [what was taught] but working on it, because they're better at it when they come back."
All-Southern Conference center Ashlen Dewart hadn't met Foster in person before last Tuesday. The rising senior said then that she wasn't sure what to expect, though Foster's resume -- he was inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame earlier this month -- certainly was impressive.
Dewart, who led UTC last season with 15.3 points and 7.2 rebounds a game, said Tuesday that she's enjoying working with Foster and his staff.
"I like him a lot, and I think as a team we like him a lot," Dewart said. "He's as good in practice as he sounds like he'd be on paper."
Dewart said Foster is a bit more low key than his predecessor, Wes Moore.
"They're both very good, quality coaches, but they have different styles," she said.
Sophomore guard Tatianna Jackson said she's excited every time she arrives at the Chattem practice facility.
"He's very big on footwork, and it's kind of different learning what he likes [to focus on]," Jackson said. "I think it's going to be really good for us."
Foster said UTC will have workouts for eight weeks this summer, going two hours a week. The summer sessions are something he has been a proponent of, he said, for 35 years.
"If you're having trouble with chemistry, you can go to a chemistry tutor. The band guys can work on their tuba players and drum players, yet we couldn't even talk basketball, let alone instruct," he said. "It's the best of all worlds: [The players] like it and we obviously like it, because that's why we do what we do."
Contact John Frierson at email@example.com or 423-757-6268. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/MocsBeat.
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 ...