The Wolfpacker

November 2015 Issue

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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88 ■ THE WOLFPACKER 2015-16 WOLFPACK BASKETBALL PREVIEW BY BRIAN RAPP N C State women's basketball head coach Wes Moore is not one to make excuses. In looking back at the 2014‑15 season, his second at NC State, one can chalk up a laundry list of "what‑ifs" to explain the Pack's drop from a 25‑win, NCAA Tourna‑ ment‑qualifying season in Moore's first year in Raleigh to last season's 18‑15 mark. There's the loss of six seniors from the previous year, including WNBA draftees Markeisha Gatling and Kody Burke, plus three‑year starter Myisha Goodwin‑Coleman — a trio that produced more than 50 percent of the team's scoring and, in Gatling's case, the most accurate shooter (with a career rate of 62.8 percent) in the history of the program. There's the unexpected sidelining of 6‑5 freshman center Sara Boric for the season due to questions about her class transcript from Bosnia, mainly due to the failure of some classes to be counted for credit by the NCAA. (Boric, according to Moore, was an excellent student her first year at NC State.) Then throw in the career‑ending ACL tear by senior starting wing Krystal Barrett, the season‑ending broken foot by freshman guard Chloe Jackson and the season‑ending Achilles tear suffered by junior wing Ashley Eli, all within the first 23 games on the sched‑ ule — leaving the Pack with just nine healthy bodies that included two non‑scholarship walk‑ons — and one would understandably expect Moore and his staff to be happy to win 18 games and reach the third round of the WNIT. But settling for less than what could have been also is not Moore's style. "On the one hand, I'm proud of the way our kids grinded, found a way to win 18 games and make it to the third round of the WNIT," he admitted. "But on the other hand, you can look back at five or six games we let slip away — we win one or two of those in the ACC, don't lose the first round [of the ACC Tournament to Virginia Tech on a last‑second shot], and we're probably in the NCAA Tournament. "We stress all the time that every posses‑ sion is important, every possession is critical, and if you win one or two more of those games, you could have made a change in your season and the way things ended." Last year's rash of injuries and the impact it had on NC State's season was exacerbated by what Moore admitted was a gamble: re‑ cruiting just five players when he had almost twice as many scholarships available. "When you come in as a new coach, you're so far behind in recruiting because everything is so advanced now," Moore said. "You have two choices: you can sign bodies, and then wish maybe you had some of those scholar‑ ships back sometime down the road; or you can bite the bullet like we did, and save them so we have a year to really work the next recruiting class, build relationships and get some good talent. "You don't sign someone just to be sign‑ ing them — you sign kids that will make you better." As a result of those "saved" scholarships, Moore and his staff have now gone from famine to feast. This year's Pack team will sport 16 players in uniform — the most since 2004 and in Moore's 27‑year coaching career. "It's a completely different situation," Moore said. "It's really exciting to have op‑ tions and to have people competing, knowing that you can teach and really pay attention to details — and make players pay attention to details because they're going to have to do those little things required of them to get on the floor." "The competition in practice is definitely better," junior guard Miah Spencer acknowl‑ edged. "But that's good — we're making each other better. "Everybody is about at the same level, so practicing against someone as good as you, it's definitely making you better." Spencer, last year's leading scorer (14.0 points per game) is one of four returning starters that produced 64 percent of the Pack's points, almost the exact reverse of the situation this time a year ago. The biggest loss is Len'Nique Brown‑Hoskin, who aver‑ aged 10.5 points and 4.7 rebounds per game as NC State's starting point guard. "Figuring out the point guard situation is going to be a big priority," Moore acknowl‑ edged. "We're going to miss Len'Nique, a senior at the point who could score — when we go back and watch film, that's what stands out. And obviously KB [Barrett], but with her injury last year we had to learn to play without her." Also gone is Jackson, who transferred to LSU last spring. Another major focus is finding the consis‑ tency in the one‑in position in Moore's four‑ out, one‑in offense that makes the system most effective. Two years ago, Gatling gave the Pack its most dominating post in nearly a decade, but last season the three players who saw action in the post combined to shoot just 36.8 percent (189 of 514) and accounted for 119 turnovers. "Finding someone who can score consis‑ tently on the block is a big decision," Moore said. "Obviously we can do it by committee, but at the same time you really need someone you can count on. "Last year we had to be a bit more guard‑ oriented, but our fundamental principles are the same every year — we believe in the four‑out." But with the extra talent to work with this year — a recruiting class that was ranked No. 16 in the country by ESPNW and fea‑ tures five McDonald's All‑America team nominees — Moore isn't ruling out a differ‑ ent look to his base attack. "We're going to try to put the best five ■ Pack At A Glance 2014-15 Record: 18-15 ACC Record: 7-9 (10th) Home/Away/Neutral Record: 12-4/5-9/1-2 Postseason Results: Lost to Virginia Tech, 57-56, in the first round of the ACC Tournament; and defeated East Tennessee State, 73-58, and East Carolina, 69-65, in the WNIT before losing to Temple, 80-79 in overtime, in the quarterfinals Starters Lost: 2 (PG Len'Nique Brown-Hoskin, G Krystal Barrett) Others Lost: 1 (G Chloe Jackson) Starters Returning: 4 (G Miah Spencer, G Dominique Wilson, F Jennifer Mathurin, F-C Carlee Schuhmacher) Others Returning: 5 (F-G Ashley Eli, G Ashley Wil- liams, G Kaley Moser, F Chelsea Nelson, C Akela Maize) Head Coach: Wes Moore (third season; Johnson Bible College, 1984) Record: 43-23 at NC State; 601-192 overall (.758) Assistants: Nikki West (third season; Clemson, 2000), Gene Hill (third season; Coker, 1997), Lindsay Edmonds (third season; Appalachian State, 2005) A Year To Reload After A Step Back, The Pack Will Look To Regain Its Postseason Goals Wes Moore's roster of 16 players is the largest in his 27 years as a head coach. Last season ended with just nine healthy players on the bench for the Wolfpack. PHOTO COURTESY NC STATE MEDIA RELATIONS

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