Harper and Her Team Underachieving

After the game against Auburn, a 85-71 win by the Wolfpack women, I thought that this year's women's basketball team could be Harper's best at State. At this point it does not look like this is going to be true. The women's team record currently stands at 8-7 overall and 0-3 in conference. With State's record, I was surprised that the WarrenNolan's RPI and SOS for State are currently 87 and 29.

Harper's best team at State was her first which played for the ACC championship and made the NCAA tournament. At this date in 2010 that team had a record of 11-6 overall and 1-1 in conference including a 73-45 beat down of Maryland which was shortly removed from their national championship year.

I thought I would compare the two teams with regard to player profiles coming out of high school or junior college including height and class rankings. I will start with the 2010 team listing starters (*) first, then top subs:

*Bonae Holston; 5-11; not ranked nationally

*Nikitta Gartrell; 5-9; #15; #33 All-Star Girls Report; 18 and under USA National Team member

*Marissa Kastanek; 5-9; not ranked nationally

*Amber White; 5-6; #21 All-Star Girls Report; 4 time Smith & Street All-American; McDonald's All-American

*Lucy Ellison; 6-1; #63 All-Star Girls Report

Tia Bell; 6-3; #140 All-Star Girls Report

Brittany Strachan; 6-3; #103 All-Star Girls Report

Sharnise Beal; 5-9; #54 All-Star Girls Report

Emili Tasler; 5-8; #190 All-Star Girls Report

All of the players of Harper's 2010 team were recruited and signed by Coach Yow. This team had major talent at the guard position with Amber White and Nikitta Gartrell and underachieved itself most likely due to the illness of Coach Yow until Harper became head coach. After a loss at Duke on February 11, 2010, State's record stood at 13-11 overall and 3-6 in conference. State won 7 of 9 games following the Duke loss including 3 in the ACC tournament earning a bid to the NCAA tournament.

As with the 2010 team I will list the 2013 starters (*) first, then the top subs giving height and class rankings, junior college rankings or significant achievements at State:

*Kody Burke; 6-2; not nationally ranked

*Markeisha Gatling; 6-5; #7 junior college player; #1 junior college post; #88 Blue Star Basketball high school

*Myisha Goodwin-Coleman; 5-4; #47 ESPN Hoopgurlz

*Krystal Barrett; 5-9; #75 ESPN Hoopgurlz

*Marissa Kastanek; 5-9; ACC freshman player of the year; freshman All-American Full Court Press

Len'Nique Brown; 5-5; not nationally ranked

Ashley Eli; 5-11; ESPN Hoopgurlz four star; #50 Blue Star Basketball

Lakeesa Daniels; 6-4; #72 ESPN Hoopgurlz

Kiana Evans; 6-1; not nationally ranked

The following was written about Gatling at GoPack when she signed with State:

After a standout prep career at Athens Drive that saw her compile 1,273 career points and set a North Carolina High School Athletic Association single-season record with a field-goal percentage of 74.1 percent, Gatling went on to play at Gulf Coast Community College in Panama City, Fla.

She averaged 4.2 points per game in 23 games off the bench for Gulf Coast as a freshman last season. She was efficient from the field, shooting 60.6 (43-of-71) and 73.3 percent from the free-throw line.

"Keisha Gatling has the ability to be one of the best post players in the conference," said Harper. "With great size and mobility she brings an added dimension to our inside game.

"She has incredible hands and tremendous scoring ability on the block. Plus she is a Raleigh native which makes her signing with NC State that much sweeter."

In looking at the rankings of the players when coming out of high school and junior college, the two teams are comparable except for the guard positions where the 2010 team with White and Gartrell had players ranked higher. However, the 2013 team is bigger in the front court when compared with the 2010 team with Gatling and Burke being taller than Holston and Ellison. With regard to the 2012 subs, Daniels, Evans and Eli compare favorably in height and high school rankings with 2010 subs Bell, Strachan and Beal.

Because Ellison provided very little offensively, the 2013 team is not only taller but better inside than the 2010 team. The 2010 team was better at the guards. It should be noted that both Goodwin-Coleman and Barrett are top 75 Hoopgurlz's players, so the difference between the 2010 guards and the 2013 guards should not be that great. Kastanek was on each team, a freshman in 2010 and a senior in 2013.

In conclusion, because of what I read about Gatling and because of my first impression of her, I felt that in combination with Burke, who is an All-ACC candidate, the 2013 team should be Harper's best. However, it is a must that a college basketball team have good guards. The difference in achievement between the 2010 team and the 2013 women's basketball team team so far may lie in the difference between the guards on each team.

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