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WBB: Full Court Does Not Think Much of State's Start

Full Court does not think much of N. C. State's women's basketball 13-1 start. In a January 2, 2014 article entitled "Reading the tea leaves for the 2014 ACC Conference race", Full Court list State under the subtitle "New Coach Cavalcade" and writes these comments about the team:

North Carolina State Wes Moore left Chattanooga to take over what many consider to be the sleeping giant of the ACC, NC State. Kelly Harper had a nice start but wasn't able to lure the kind of talent to Raleigh needed to truly compete against the ACC's elite. A lack of institutional support and outdated facilities were both listed as obstacles she couldn't overcome, but the fact of the matter is that her teams played poor defense and were out of shape. Moore has the Wolfpack Women playing a four-in, one-out motion offense, which has allowed talented forward Kody Burke to shine as a rover on offense instead of chaining her to the post. Six-five center Markeisha Gatling is in better shape and a great anchor in the middle for a team that spreads opponents out with three-point shooting and makes great use of a fairly deep bench.

Picked as candidates for the final four are Duke, Notre Dame, Maryland and North Carolina. Picked for NCAA tournament teams are Florida State, Syracuse and Georgia Tech. Most likely the writer of this article published January 2, 2014 was unaware that number sixteen LSU, a team beaten by State 89-79 on December the 20th, bested number five Tennessee 80-77 on Tennessee's home court January 2, 2014. Of course, this information might not have changed what was written in the article.

While Full Court so far has not found State's record and play to be exceptional, at least in their preseason women's basketball article with regard to the ACC, they picked State to finish seventh as opposed to what the Associated Press picked State to finish, tenth.

From Full Court:

7. North Carolina State (17-17, 7-11 ACC)

The Wolfpack Women were one of the most disappointing teams in the ACC a season ago, and coach Kellie Harper got cashiered as a result.

There were any number of reasons why Harper struggled, with recruiting being the most obvious. State's ancient facilities certainly had something to do with that, but it was also clear that many of her players were out of shape, undisciplined on the floor and prone to mental errors. The Pack hired Tennessee-Chattanooga's Wes Moore, a former assistant at N.C. State. At UTC, Moore led his team to 13 20-win seasons in 15 years, including multiple trips to the NCAA tournament.

From the very beginning, Moore is going to put as many shooters on the floor as possible in a 4-out, 1-in offense. That "1-in" will likely be 6-5 center Markeisha Gatling or 6-4 center Lakeesa Daniel, but don't be surprised if returning leading scorer Kody Burke plays the five at times as a roving shooter on offense and shot-blocker on defense. Burke is one of the most talented players in the ACC but is maddeningly inconsistent in terms of her aggressiveness. Former point guard (and occasional ball-stopper) Myisha Goodwin-Coleman will move over to off guard, allowing the quicker Len'Nique Brown to start at point.

The team will miss the intensity of guard Marissa Kastanek, one of the finest student-athletes who ever played at State. I expect guard Krystal Barrett to be a third starter as Moore will prefer to go small with plenty of shooters. Burke said that Moore told her "If you can't shoot the three, you can't play with me", and so we should expect the Pack to shoot first and ask questions later. I sense Moore is going to bring out the best in Burke and get Gatling in better shape (along with the other players), and while it might take him a while to match personnel up to his style, he should have an immediate impact in Raleigh.

State can begin to change Full Court's mind with a win over Syracuse on Sunday. I might add that the preseason analysis is somewhat wrong as State is an inside team with super star Markeisha Gatling being the focal point of the offense. Gatling is scoring 16.1 points per game while shooting 0.731 from the field. Gatling also is averaging 5.6 boards per game. It should be noted that over Gatling's last four games, which includes wins over LSU and Kansas State, Gatling has averaged 24 points per game on 41 of 48 shot attempts (0.85).

WHY HARPER FAILED

Full Court in their preseason analysis of State wrote this about why Harper failed:

There were any number of reasons why Harper struggled, with recruiting being the most obvious. State's ancient facilities certainly had something to do with that, but it was also clear that many of her players were out of shape, undisciplined on the floor and prone to mental errors. The Pack hired Tennessee-Chattanooga's Wes Moore, a former assistant at N.C. State. At UTC, Moore led his team to 13 20-win seasons in 15 years, including multiple trips to the NCAA tournament.

Some of these things I agree with, some I do not. First and foremost was Harper's recruiting although with Moore having success with her recruits, one cannot write that this is a major reason. What about her players being out of shape? Early in last years season, Gatling appeared to be out of shape; however, by the time State played UNC in Raleigh, Gatling was not. From my game viewpoint, Gatling certainly wore out UNC's six-six Rolle in the first half. As to her players being undisciplined, some of her guards were allowed to shoot and shoot no matter how badly they shot. Further, some of Harper's guards were allowed to make wild drives to the basket over and over. So, that might have been a problem.

I think Harper lacked maturity as a coach, and in the future will be a fine coach.

The one reason given for Harper's failure that of which I really take issue is the ancient facilities reason. Yes, Reynolds is old, but so is Carmichael Arena where UNC plays, and so is Cameron where Duke plays. With the renovation of Reynolds planned, this questionable issue should be resolved.

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