Want to know why Gatling is so good this year? Watch this video in which former N.C. State women's basketball player and super analyst Debbie Antonelli breaks down Gatling's play:
One would have to give Wes Moore and his staff credit for their work with Markeisha and the players surrounding her. Last year in some of my posts about the team, I referenced the inability of the team to pass the ball into Gatling in the post. This years team has mastered that feat and Gatling has improved her mechanics in getting postion in the post. Gatling could always shoot; however, the team has not always been able to make the entry pass to her.
The following paragraphs are taken from "Checking in with the 'Triangle' Trio" by Mechelle Voepel:
NC State has been the biggest pleasant surprise in the ACC: earning the No. 4 seed despite being picked to finish 10th. But the Wolfpack also have been stung by recent knee injuries, both to seniors. Myisha Goodwin-Coleman, the team's top 3-point shooter, and Lakeesa Daniel, who provided needed depth inside, went out with ACL tears on consecutive days in late February. However, two other seniors -- Markeisha Gatling and Kody Burke -- continue to lead the way for the Wolfpack, as they've done all season.
NC State's new coach, Wes Moore, joked at media day that his team was tied for first in the ACC before the season started. Of course, that was a 15-way tie, but ...
Moore certainly didn't want to oversell the Wolfpack, a team that went 17-17 last season and lost in the second round of the WNIT. Coach Kellie Harper was let go after four seasons. Then Moore, who had once been an assistant at NC State and had also applied for the Wolfpack job when Harper got it in 2009, was hired to come to Raleigh.
Moore, who'd gone 558-169 in 24 previous seasons as a college head coach, is hardly at his first rodeo. He saw his new group of seniors working hard last summer, determined to adjust quickly to his system.
"I feel very fortunate to have stepped into a situation with a great senior class," Moore said. "One with talent, but also a willingness to buy in."
He knew he wouldn't have to overcome emotional resistance to players upset with the coaching change. The Wolfpack seniors were pragmatic. They were willing to do whatever they needed to win.
While Moore was aware of all this, he also understood that the ACC was a difficult league. The Wolfpack had gone 7-11 in the league last season, and that was before Notre Dame joined the ACC.
NC State went 13-1 in nonconference play, then started the league slate with a 67-61 victory over Syracuse. That game seemed to set a tone that the Wolfpack were going to be competitive throughout the ACC season.
And they were. NC State finished 11-5 in league play, with its losses to UNC (twice), Duke, Miami and Notre Dame.
In the loss to the Blue Devils, NC State also lost Goodwin-Coleman to her knee injury. The next day in practice, Daniel went down. Goodwin-Coleman's ability to stretch the defense with her perimeter shooting (a team-high 79 3-pointers this season) is a big loss, as is her leadership. Daniel didn't see as much court time; she played behind Gatling, who along with Burke earned all-ACC honors. But she gave the team a lift off the bench and was always read.
The article referenced also discusses Duke and UNC, but a good Wolfpack fan like myself ignores those parts of the article.