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Lady Mocs prep for Pitt Saturday in NCAA Tourney

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. ( The No. 17th-ranked University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women's basketball team spent part of the day Friday at Thompson-Boling Arena in preparation for its Saturday morning matchup against the University of Pittsburgh in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Senior Ka'Vonne Towns (Lilburn, Ga) and junior Alicia Payne (Memphis, Tenn.) answered questions along with head coach Jim Foster in the press conference before heading out to the court with the rest of the Mocs for a 90-minute workout.

The women's game will tip at 11:10 a.m. on ESPN 2.
2015 NCAADivision I women's basketball championship
Chattanooga Press Conference
Thompson-Boling Area · Knoxville, Tenn.
Friday, March 20
Junior Guard Alicia Payne
(On the confidence the team has gained from winning so many games in row)
"I think it gives us a little bit more confidence (rather than) if we weren't winning a lot of games coming into the tournament. Still, this is like a brand new season for us. We don't take into consideration that much what we did because that's in the past; we have to start winning games now.
(On whether or not the team has practiced differently to prepare for Pittsburgh)
"Not really. We like to focus a lot on us, primarily. Because we know what we have to do. We can play with any team and we can compete. So I think we just focused on us. We prepared for them a little bit, but the focus wasn't primarily on them. It was on us and what we have to do."
(On if the team has faced teams comparable to Pittsburgh)
"Yes, we've played pretty big teams. We just know that whatever team we play, it's different for each team. Because we've played different (types of) teams, we know we have what it takes to prepare for them. And our coaching staff does a good job helping us prepare for them before we play them. I think it helps us a lot."
Senior Guard/Forward Ka'Vonne Towns
(On if this year's NCAA Tournament berth has a different feel from last season's)
"It's kind of different because we lost six seniors last year, and now we really only have two who play. It's a new season like (Alicia Payne) said, and we're just excited to start playing tomorrow."
(On this year's team knowing, it can beat highly ranked teams, whereas last year's team hoped it could)
"That definitely gives us confidence, knowing that we can come out and compete with any team. And if we compete well enough, we can actually win. So I think that gives us some confidence going into tomorrow."
(On if the team remembers what it feels like to lose)
"Not really. We don't want to start knowing what it feels like (laughs)."
(On whether or not the team is more prepared for the NCAA Tournament than it was last year)
"I think from last year, the people that are here this year are just more experienced. The freshmen from last year were kind of nervous. So I think this year we are just more experienced and ready."
(On his connection with Pittsburgh head coach Suzie McConnell-Serio)
"Well it goes back to the 80s. She played at Penn State, and I was (the coach at St. Joseph's). We actually played 10 times in that span of time. Suzie was the point guard for Penn State, and Debbie Black was the point guard for St. Joe. And we each won five (of those games). And they were epic. All the games were intense… it was good basketball. And then I had the privilege of being on the coaching staff for the 1992 Olympic Team, and Suzie was one of the team members, so I go way back with the McConnell family. I had a lot of fun with them in the old Marriott on Wisconsin Avenue in Washington, D.C., where they would ensconce themselves for junior nationals."
(On what characteristics McConnell-Serio possess)
"She was a great player, and she's a very good coach. She figures out what they need to do well and they do it well. She's only in her second year and she has a bunch of freshmen and she actually has a volleyball player that she convinced to play basketball with her fifth year of eligibility. She has melded them into a hard-nosed basketball team"
(On stopping Pitt senior guar Brianna Kiesel)
"We sort of like to guard them all. We figure out what's best for us in what situation. We're still working on that. We'll work with that stuff today."
(On what the difference is now that he is at Chattanooga)
"I would like to think I'm smarter than I was at some of the other places. That's what experience does for you."
(On the difference of this year's team entering the tournament)
"I think last year's team, we had a lot of success and played a little different than they had a played before but in my opinion didn't have any significant wins. We had some good wins but nothing significant. We played some of the better teams in this conference, in this tournament rather, and we've won some of those games. I think in the mindset of a player that's a big deal."
(On how well the team has done)
"I think we played a very aggressive schedule, and it'll be even more aggressive next year.  I think in my opinion that's how you prepare a team to have an opportunity to have success. You don't hide your weaknesses from yourself. You expose them and then you work very hard to make them strengths."

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