The Wolfpacker

November 2012

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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BKB PREVIEW 12-13 A It's The Key To The Wolfpack's Hopes For ACC And NCAA Tournament Contention CONSISTENCY BY BRIAN RAPP s far as NC State women's bas- ketball head coach Kellie Harper, her staff, players and Wolfpack fans are concerned, there isn't an amusement ride in the world that could rival the up-and-down path taken by last season's squad. After a 10-3 non-conference beginning that included wins over three Southeastern Conference teams and the championship of the Pepsi Raindow Wahine Invitational in Hawaii, the 2011-12 Pack won just six of its final 17 regular-season games, finishing 5-11 and ninth in the ACC. Then, much like the postseason run in Harper's first year in 2010, the Pack reeled off consecutive upsets of Florida State and fifth-ranked Duke — teams NC State had not beaten in five years — in the opening rounds of the ACC Tournament, before suf- fering a 26-point trouncing in the semifi- nals by a Georgia Tech team that had barely beaten the Pack in overtime in Atlanta dur- ing the regular season. Still, NC State's 18 wins, though falling short of NCAA Tournament qualification, were enough to draw entry into the WNIT. But after an opening win over High Point, the Pack saw its season end with a 66-62 upset at the hands of an Appalachian State team it had never lost to in 24 previous ■ Pack At A Glance ACC Tournament semifinals; lost to Appalachian State, 66-62, in WNIT second round Starters Lost: 2 (F Bonae Holston, G Emili Tasler) Others Lost: 4 (F Tia Bell, G Kim Durham, G Paige 2011-12 Record: 19-16 ACC Record: 5-11 (9th) Home/Away/Neutral Record: 9-9/6-6/4-1 Postseason Results: Lost to Georgia Tech, 87-61, in Woodard, G Erica Donovan) Starters Returning: 3 (G Marissa Kastanek, F Kody Burke, G Myisha Goodwin-Coleman) Others Returning: 5 (G Krystal Barrett, F-C Lakeesa Daniel, F Therany Dunnigan, F Kiana Evans, G Breezy Williams) Newcomers: G Len'Nique Brown, G Ashley Eli, G Kaley Moser, C Markeisha Gatling Head Coach: Kellie Harper (fourth season; Tennes- see, 1999) Record: 53-47 NC State (.530); 150-112 overall (.573) Assistants: Stephanie McCormick (fourth season; Ca- 64 ■ THE WOLFPACKER meetings. The loss also snapped a 50-game winning streak stretching back to 1981 over in-state, non-conference opponents. Even the Pack's final record reflects the good news/bad news theme of a year ago. The 19-16 mark returned the program to a winning ledger after 2010-11's 14-17 skid, and its 6-6 showing in road games was the best since a six-win effort in 1998-99. Yet the 9-9 home record was NC State's worst since a 7-7 mark in 2002-03. The nine losses at Reynolds Coliseum were also the most in program history. In summing up the see-saw performance of the 2011-12 season and looking forward, Harper and her staff, as well as the Pack's eight returning players, repeated the same word again and again: consistent. "We proved to ourselves we were good enough to win against good opponents with those out-of-conference wins early," Harper pointed out. "But we were also a very young team last year … "One of the hardest things for young players to grasp is mental toughness. It's not something you can go practice. I think we really struggled in that area last year and just hit a wall — we began to doubt ourselves and each other and didn't have a lot of confidence stepping on the court. "When you get to conference play, there's no night off. You have to be good every single night, which brings us back to being consistent. We don't have to be great. If we're consistent, then we'll be putting ourselves, hopefully, in position to be an NCAA Tournament team." Although last year's team boasted five seniors, two — fifth-year players Tia Bell and Emili Tasler — had been limited by injures most of the previous four years, while Kim Durham and Paige Woodard were primarily backup role players. Only forward Bonae Holston and junior guard Marissa Kastanek had more than two full seasons of experience among last year's starting five, and three of the top six play- ers in minutes played last season wound up being freshman guards Krystal Barrett and Erica Donovan. With graduation claiming Holston, a tawba, 1994), Jon Harper (fourth season; Auburn, 1999), Ken Griffin (second season; Voorhees, 1994) four-time All-ACC honoree and a program top-10 career finisher in points, rebounds and games played, and Tasler, a clutch three-point shooter, backup point guard and the team's best one-on-one defender, Harper will rely on the returning starting trio of Kastanek, the program's lone senior and the final recruit of Kay Yow, and junior point guard Myisha Goodwin-Coleman and forward Kody Burke to provide most of the consistency needed to return the Pack to the ACC championship and NCAA Tourna- ment discussion. And now in her fourth season in Raleigh, Harper also will have the benefit of a roster in which every player, aside from freshmen Ashley Eli and Kaley Moser and heralded junior college transfer Markeisha Gatling, has been groomed at least one year in her system. "We're not having to spend as much time on basics as we have the last few years," the coach noted. "And even Ashley and Keisha pick up things very quickly and have a very good grasp of our concepts. They all understand better the philosophy we have as a program — they do drills now with a better understanding of why we're doing them." There's also a better feel for individual strengths, according to Kastanek. "I think a big part of being consistent is knowing what you're good at and what everyone else's strengths are and what their role is," she explained. "It's shooting the shots you're good at. It's stopping a person on defense and bringing that same effort every time." Harper has slightly altered her pre- season preparations, extending individual skill development several weeks longer than in the past and starting team practices Oct. 11 rather than on the first allowed day, Sept. 30. The coaching staff also handed each player a light bulb that first day of team workouts, inscribed with a word meant to provide each player with the attribute they were to focus on for the season. "We all have a word — mine is focus — that we're supposed to bring to every practice and game," Kastanek said. "It's the area each of us has to be consistent in. Head coach Kellie Harper, in her fourth season guiding the Wolfpack, said: "If we're consis- tent, then we'll be putting ourselves, hope- fully, in position to be an NCAA Tournament team." PHOTO BY ROB BRADLEY

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