If you look up the word-niche- in the dictionary, you’ll find this; “a place, job, or use for which a person or thing is best fitted.” Lady Mocs Head Basketball Coach Wes Moore, is still carving his niche at UTC. Only a select few can carve out a niche as big as the one carved by Tennessee’s legendary Pat Summitt. Fate generally decides who goes where in life; who gets to play in the bigger arenas or who gets to perform on the bigger stages. The contributions, however, of those chosen to play or perform in the smaller venues, is every bit as meaningful.
Wes Moore has been running the Lady Mocs’ program for the past 19 seasons. In that time his teams have won 356 games while losing just 112. UTC has also claimed victories 243 times against Southern Conference teams, while dropping a mere 43 games. Moore has claimed 12 SoCon regular season titles and the Lady Mocs handed him his 9th SoCon Tournament crown last weekend as they rallied for a thrilling 64-63 win over Davidson in the championship game.
Moore thought about leaving UTC a couple of years ago. In fact, he actually took the head coaching position at East Carolina. He kept that job just a few days; changed his mind, and UTC took him back happily, with open arms. Now, I’m not saying Coach Moore will stay here until he retires, but it would really have to be a big-time offer to move him again.
Wes Moore is the only coach in NCAA Womens’ Basketball history to take a team from all three classifications to the NCAA post season. (Maryville, Francis Marion, and UTC.) His 2006 squad scored an opening round tournament upset of Rutgers, but that has been his only D-I tournament win so far. At 29-3, with a decent RPI rating, this year’s Lady Mocs team should be given a better seed than usual when the NCAA pairings are announced next week, and that tends to help a mid-major team’s chances a lot.
As I have been known to say from time to time, “I’ve said all that……. to say this;” Wes Moore’s tremendous success at UTC is well-documented. There is no doubt he is one of the truly great coaches in women’s basketball. He has run his program the right way, his players graduate, and they are good citizens when they leave UTC. He is a great ambassador for our city, and every citizen should hope he stays here forever. Whether his team wins when the “Big Dance” begins next week is not important; the fact they’re back where they should be is important.
If one does decide to look up the word-niche- in the dictionary, in addition to the definition I mentioned earlier, is this one; “an open hollow in a wall (as for a statue) A few more wins and championship trophies……. and a statue for Coach Wes Moore would be very appropriate.
Randy Smith has been covering sports in Tennessee for the last 43 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has continued his broadcasting career as a free-lance play-by-play announcer. He is also an author and is a media concepts teacher at Brainerd High School in Chattanooga. He is also the Head Softball Coach at Brainerd. Randy Smith's career has included a 17-year stint as scoreboard host and pre-game talk show host on the widely regarded "Vol Network". He has also done play by play of more than 500 college football, basketball, baseball and softball games on ESPN, ESPN2, Fox Sports, CSS and Tennessee Pay Per View telecasts. He was selected as "Tennessee's Best Sports Talk Show Host" in 1998 by the Associated Press. He has won other major awards including, "Best Sports Story" in Tennessee and his "Friday Night Football" shows on WRCB-TV twice won "Best Sports Talk Show In Tennessee" awards. He has also been the host of "Inside Lee University Basketball" on CSS for the past 11 years. He was the first television broadcaster to ever be elected to the "Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame", in 2003. Randy and his wife, Shelia, reside in Hixson. They have two married children (Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith). They also have three grandchildren (Coleman, Boone, and DellaMae).