CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- Kylie Lambert smiled as she surveyed her surroundings in McKenzie Arena late Monday afternoon.
The former McMinn Central star saw a rare sight: a full squad of blue-and-gold clad Lady Mocs going through a practice.
"It feels weird because I haven't really had that since I've been here," Lambert said. "But it sure does help a lot."
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women's basketball team was fresh as it worked through it's first official practice of the 2011-12 season, and it's likely to stay that way with all its added depth.
The Lady Mocs all but two players, including all five starters, from last year's team that finished third in the Southern Conference. They also add three freshman and 6-foot-3 post Faith Dupree, who transferred to UTC from Tennessee.
All-SoCon forward Ashlen Dewart is also available in practice, but will sit out the year after transferring from Appalachian State.
"We've got a whole lot more bodies out there, especially at post," said head coach Wes Moore. "We're struggling with getting the right people reps and getting people prepared, but we've just got to remember it's a marathon and not a sprint."
Dupree will sit out the first seven games before becoming fully eligible at the end of the fall semester. She'll join returning all-conference selection Whitney Hood in the post to give Moore one of his tallest teams.
It will also be a far more experienced team.
"I think some of them have definitely grown up," Moore said. "Meghan Downes and Alex Black were overwhelmed at times and struggled as freshman, but I think they've grown up quite a bit.
"But our veterans did, too. Last year was kind of a slap in the face, and I think they put a lot of work in over the summer and it's showing now and will continue to show as we progress."
The third-place finish was the first time in more than a decade that UTC did not earn at least a share of the regular season title, and an early exit in the tournament semifinals at McKenzie Arena made for a long off-season.
"I was definitely more anxious this year to get back on the court," said Moore, whose team will open the regular season November 11 at home against UAB. "When you win it, you just say let's sit back and bask in it and watch other sports.
"This year we're definitely a little more motivated to get out on the court and rectify what happened."