The Wolfpacker

January 2014

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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S By Brian Rapp he's been described as "potentially one of the most dominating centers in women's college basketball" by a former assistant coach, and "one of the sweetest, nicest people you'll ever meet" by both coaches and teammates alike. It's a paradox that hasn't always created the best results on the hardwood, but one that NC State senior center Markeisha Gatling has lived with ever since first picking up a toy basketball at the age of 7. And despite the comments that she is sometimes "too nice" to be the assertive, go-to post that is vital to the success of the Wolfpack's last year, and not really being sure of my role on the team last season," she said. "I'm used to being a scorer, but that's not really what [former Pack head coach Kellie Harper] wanted out of me. She wanted me to create shots for others by taking up room in the paint, and that's not really what I was used to." Though there is some difference of opinion on what the former coaching staff's expectations were for Gatling's role in the offense, there's no arguing that first-year head coach Wes Moore and his staff have made getting the ball to the post an integral part of the Pack attack. Meeting The Challenge Senior Center Markeisha Gatling Is Toughening Up The Pack's Inside Game inside game, the evidence through nine games of this 2013-14 season indicates that Gatling is ready to be plenty tough when called on. Going into NC State's annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge game at Northwestern Dec. 5, Gatling was averaging 12.1 points per game, with eight straight contests in double figures, second only to senior forward Kody Burke's team-leading scoring average of 13.4 points per game. By comparison, a year ago, Gatling had scored in double figures just five times in the Pack's opening nine outings. Her 65.3-percent shooting accuracy (49 of 75) was second best among all ACC players and much higher than her 57.7-percent shooting average of a year ago, and her 4.8 rebounds per game also topped the Pack. And her coaches feel that's just the tip of the iceberg as far as the senior's potential. "After seeing Markeisha our first practice, my first comment was, 'Wow!'" firstyear Pack assistant head coach Nikki West admitted. "She looked like a grown woman playing with a bunch of kids, and I still have that impression, even nine games into the season." Gatling attributes her increased production and effectiveness underneath (no opposing post has outscored her and only St. Bonaventure has scored more inside than NC State) to a combination of things. "A lot of it has to do with this being my "I told her that we as a team would go as you go, whether you like that or not," Moore said in a preseason interview. "And our guards are going to understand very quickly that if she's open and they don't get her the ball, they're coming out, and we'll find someone who will get it to her." "That, really, has been the biggest difference for me," Gatling said. "It's the emphasis on getting me the ball more. Sure, it was frustrating last year not getting it when I was open, but I'm getting a lot more touches now." Despite the roller-coaster ride of last year's 17-17 season, Gatling said she never had any second thoughts about transferring to NC State after two productive years at Florida Gulf Coast Community College. "I had a lot of D-I schools contacting me in Florida," Gatling said, "but I grew up following NC State." Even so, the middle child of Marvin and Cheryl Gatling originally chose to go to Charlotte to continue her hoops career. "I'd been recruited by Kay Yow, but when she died, I had second thoughts. Charlotte was the first school to actually offer, and it was the only visit I took." During the Wolfpack's 8-1 start to the 2013‑14 season, Gatling was second on the team in scoring (12.1 points per game) and ranked second among all ACC players in field goal percentage (49 of 75, .653). photo By Greg Mintel/courtesy nc State Media Relations 48  ■  the wolfpacker 48-49.Markeisha Gatling.indd 48 12/5/13 2:57 PM

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