Kellie Harper before the first game of the season -- an 87-71 win over Florida International on Nov. 13. (Photo by Peyton Williams)
Tuesday update: Beginning Wednesday, GoPack.com will run the story on Coach Harper and the women’s basketball team that appeared in our spring issue over a three-day period.
This will be our last entry in the series “A Coach’s First Season,” in which NC State magazine followed Kellie Harper during her first year as coach of the NC State women’s basketball team. The culmination of this series was a 10-page feature in the spring issue of NC State.For our finale on the blog, we’ve got a Q&A with Coach Harper in which she looks back over her first year with the Wolfpack and answers questions from readers.
Thank you for reading our coverage, and thank you to Coach Harper, her staff, and the players for allowing us to be part of the season. Go Pack!
Q&A with Coach Kellie Harper
Describe what this first season has been like for you.
After having a week or two to reflect back on the season, the word I have used is rewarding. I’ve really enjoyed this season, and I’ve enjoyed watching these young ladies grow and buy in to what we want to do. I’ve also enjoyed watching the fans express their appreciation for this team, and that meant a lot to me. I wanted that so bad for our players. I wanted them to experience that. I had that as a player, and it’s an amazing feeling. You are representing so much more than just a team. You’re representing your university and your fans, and it’s nice that they appreciated what we did this year.
Monday morning update: The NC State women’s basketball team’s season ended Sunday night as the Wolfpack fell to UCLA 74-54 in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament in Minneapolis. Go to GoPack.com for a game recap and box score. Below is video from the team’s third day at the NCAA Tournament, including video highlights from the UCLA game.
Sunday update: The NC State women’s basketball team will face UCLA tonight at 9:30 p.m. EST in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. If you’re not in Minneapolis for the game, watch it on ESPN2 or listen on WKNC. As part of our ongoing series “A Coach’s First Season,” we’ve interviewed every player. After the jump are the last two getting-to-know-you player interviews in the series. They are with freshmen Kelsie Lliteras and Lakeesa Daniel; both joined the team in mid-season.
Up first are two videos of the team’s adventures during the NCAA Tournament so far shot by video coordinator Jason Rasnake.
The NC State women’s basketball team learned last night it will be a No. 9 seed in the Kansas City regional in the NCAA Women’s Tournament and take on No. 8 seed UCLA Sunday at about 9:30 p.m. EST in Williams Arena in Minneapolis, Minn. Check out the above photos that Peggy Boone of NC State Student Media took of last night’s event at the Backyard Bistro where the team and fans watched the Selection Show. Below is video of first-year Wolfpack coach Kellie Harper’s responses to media questions after the Selection Show. As part of our “A Coach’s First Season” series, we also caught up with Coach Harper last night for a short Q&A. Comments from senior guard Nikitta Gartrell follow, too.
Q&A with Coach Kellie Harper after NCAA Tournament Selection Show
You looked nervous when the Selection Show started. Were you?
I was nervous — maybe for the first time all season. I had some nerves, and I think probably because 100 percent of it was outside of my control. And it wasn’t about whether we were going to get in [the NCAA Tournament]. I felt pretty good that we were going to get in. But what seed and where you’re going to — there are just so many unknowns.
The NC State women’s basketball team fell to No. 8 Duke 70-60 Sunday afternoon in the final of the ACC tournament at Greensboro Coliseum. Senior guard Nikitta Gartrell led NC State with 19 points and seven rebounds and sophomore forward Bonae Holston added 14 points and six rebounds. Both were named to the All-ACC Tournament first-team. Go to GoPack.com and theacc.com for game reports; theacc.com also has video and the text of the post-game press conference featuring Gartrell, Holston and NC State head coach Kellie Harper. The Wolfpack (20-13) will find out Monday, March 15, if they made the NCAA tournament.
“I’m extremely proud of our team for so many reasons. For improving, for believing, for working hard in practice, for playing together,” Harper said after the game. “But in that locker room a few minutes ago I was proud of them for wanting more. They are hurt because they didn’t win this game. And I am so proud of that. . . . I think our kids have proved over the last few weeks that we are an NCAA Tournament team. Right now I don’t think I have to make an argument for these girls. I think they made it for me.”
As part of our ongoing series “A Coach’s First Season,” here is a short Q&A we conducted with Coach Harper after the title game about the ACC tournament experience as a whole. (more…)
The NC State women’s basketball team opens play in the first round of the ACC tournament today at 8 p.m. against Clemson in the Greensboro Coliseum. So far this week sophomore forward Bonae Holston has been named Honorable Mention All-ACC and Marissa Kastanek ACC Freshman of the Year. ACC Coach of the Year will be announced later today. To mark the beginning of post-season play, as part of our ongoing series “A Coach’s First Season,” we thought that we would take a look back over the regular season. During that four-month period, Peyton Williams took more than a thousand photos. Click on the slideshow above to see 44 of his favorite images. Below, we’ve posted his comments with his eight favorite photos. Which one is your favorite?
Other pieces in the latest installment include Coach Harper’s comments during a teleconference Tuesday and a list of links to stories recently published by other media outlets.
This was my favorite photo from the entire story. It was taken pre-game when player introductions are done with a spotlight. After the players are introduced, they shine the spotlight on the coach, and if you are standing on the court, she is backlit. At a previous game I saw this but could not get a shot of it in time. So I waited until the next game and put myself in position to get this photo. Thankfully the second time I got it. The photo carries some symbolism to me. The spotlight is on her literally and figuratively. Also, she is casting a long shadow. Foreshadowing of her future influence on this program?
Monday afternoon update: We’ve posted photos from Sunday afternoon’s game above. Below are quotes about the ACC tournament from NC State women’s basketball coach Kellie Harper and senior Nikitta Gartrell.
Kellie Harper on the ACC tournament
Had we’ve been able to get the win on Thursday [against Wake Forest], I think that would have made a huge difference going over into Greensboro. But I think that [66-50 loss] to Wake Forest . . . re-focused our team. . . . You got three wins in a row but you haven’t arrived. It probably really re-focused our team and reminded us what we do best and what allows us to win. . . . For us, we’ve got to be very focused this week. These kids understand what the ACC is. For us, we almost want to treat it like the next game is the season, rather than stop and re-start this thing. I think if we had played this game [Saturday], we would be taking a couple of games off. But unfortunately the way this has fallen, we’ll have [Monday] off, so it’ll be really important the kids get their legs back and come back fresh to practice on Tuesday. We don’t have a lot of new players, but we’ll definitely talk about the atmosphere, even for shoot-around at the ACC tournament. The media attention and all the hype—it’s important they understand what we’re getting into. . . . I think your veteran team understands it a little better and typically handles it a little better—understanding all the hype surrounding the tournament. But then you’ve got to be mature enough to focus in on what you need to do when it’s time to put the ball on the court.
Nikitta Gartrell on the ACC tournament
I’m excited to end on a good note, but going into [the ACC Tournament] Thursday, we have to bring the same intensity—the same team defense and the same team offense to get past the first round of the ACC tournament, which we’ve failed to do the past two years. I love my teammates, and I know we’re capable of doing it. It’s just going to have to start in practice. [We can’t] dwell on, “OK we beat Georgia Tech on Sunday.” That’s not going to fly, because in the ACC, it’s up for grabs. I think we are just going to have to practice hard like we always do.
Nikitta Gartrell on playing 11-seed Clemson after losing to the Tigers 69-56 on Jan. 31
After any loss, you dream of the chance to play the team again. . . . You think, “I wish I could play that game again.” We went down to Littlejohn, and we weren’t prepared. As a team, we lost our focus and just went through the motions. We didn’t do that tonight and like we’ve proven in other games. It’s a motivation game. Any time we lose to, I would like another opportunity. Starting with Clemson, we’re going to bring it.
Above are video highlights from the NC State women’s basketball’s team 74-63 win over UNC-Chapel Hill Sunday afternoon in Chapel Hill. After the jump you’ll find a game story and post-game comments from NC State coach Kellie Harper. For a box score and game report, go to GoPack.com.
Jon Harper with Sharnise Beal (Photo by Peyton Williams for NC State magazine)
Saturday morning update: Four players on the NC State women’s basketball team scored in double figures and the Wolfpack made 8 of 14 3-pointers and 15 of 15 free throws to beat Boston College 73-62 at Reynolds Coliseum Friday night. Senior guard Nikitta Gartrell led the Pack with 20 points, with freshman guard Marissa Kastanek adding 17 points, redshirt junior guard Amber White 11 points, and senior forward Sharnise Beal 10 points. With the win, the Pack improve to 15-11 and 5-6 in the ACC; and with three games left in the regular season, they have guaranteed themselves a winning season and are eligible for a post-season tournament.
NC State opened the game by making 4 of 5 3-point attempts to pull out to a 12-2 lead and extended the lead to as many as 17 points in the second half. The closest Boston College came was within 7 points.
NC State travels to Chapel Hill Sunday for a 2 p.m. game against UNC, which is 14-7 and 5-6.
Go to GoPack.com for a game recap, and click here to watch post-game comments from first-year NC State head coach Kellie Harper and Nikitta Gartrell.
The NC State women’s basketball takes on Boston College tonight at 6:30 in Reynolds Coliseum. As part of our ongoing series “A Coach’s First Season,” we talked to NC State assistant coach Jon Harper yesterday before a 4 p.m. practice. In the Q&A with him after the jump, he talks about the season so far, his background, his role as an assistant coach and facing Boston College for the second time this season. The Eagles (14-11, 5-5 ACC) defeated the Wolfpack (14-11, 4-6) 83-66 on Jan. 10. The Q&A begins after the jump.
Also, NC State magazine talked to Debbie Mulligan Antonelli ’86 immediately after NC State’s win over Miami in the Hoops 4 Hope game Sunday. (Read that here.) A basketball analyst for ESPN and a three-year starter under Kay Yow, Antonelli co-hosts the weekly national podcast Shootaround with Beth & Debbie. To start off the latest podcast, she shares what happened as she was leaving Reynolds Sunday, and it’s a telling story about Coach Yow. Be sure to listen to the podcast yourself to get her account and her reaction. It’s the first thing she talks about and last for just a couple of minutes. If you want a summary of what she says, here you go:
As Debbie was leaving Reynolds Sunday night, she saw several former players in the women’s basketball office. She went into the office and asked them what they were doing. The former players were looking through files. Unbeknownst to them until that night, Kay Yow had kept a file on every player that ever played for her. The players only looked through the files kept on themselves. Inside her file, Debbie says, was every card, note, letter, and photo that she had sent Coach Yow, including photos of her children and high school transcripts. “Any correspondence I had sent her,” Debbie says. “Can you believe that?” Even included were 500 sentences that Yow had Debbie write as punishment for being late to a team work out. Debbie says she gathered some files to take to former players. “I think I need a wheelbarrow to carry out Summer Erbs’ file,” she says.
Nearly 40 former players on the Wolfpack women's basketball team unveiled these banners to honor former NC State coach Kay Yow during the Hoops 4 Hope game on Feb. 14. (Photo by Peyton Williams)
Amber White, a redshirt junior on the Wolfpack women’s basketball team, had it in her mind: We will not lose this game. All week leading up to Hoops 4 Hope, which featured NC State hosting Miami for a Sunday evening ACC game in Reynolds Coliseum, White thought about how she couldn’t play in it last year because of an Achilles injury and how she wanted to make her former coach Kay Yow — who created Hoops 4 Hope five years ago to raise awareness about breast cancer — proud. Even when NC State fell behind by 12 points early in its game against Miami before a crowd of nearly 6,500, and even when it trailed by as many as eight points in the second half, White was determined: We will not lose this game.
“[They] had a lot of fire in their eyes. They did not want to lose this game. For so many reasons,” first-year NC State coach Kellie Harper said. “When that team has that type of attitude, it doesn’t mean you’re going to win. But you have to have that attitude to give you that chance.”
The Pack did come back and win. Freshman guard Marissa Kastanek had a team-high 16 points and scored on a game-winning put-back with 1: 07 left to give NC State a 66-64 victory over Miami. White added13 points, seven assists, seven rebounds and three steals. After the game, she said:
A storage bin that holds equipment for the Wolfpack women's basketball team. (Photo by Peyton Williams)
The NC State women’s basketball team will host Miami today at 5:30 p.m. in Reynolds Coliseum for the fifth annual Hoops for Hope, an event former NC State coach Kay Yow created to raise awareness about breast cancer. It’ll feature a tribute to Yow, who died in January 2009; a silent auction; a march of survivors at halftime; and the ACC matchup between the Wolfpack (13-11, 3-6) and Hurricanes (16-8, 3-6), which will be televised by ESPN2. Yesterday, 11 former NC State players participated in the annual Wolfpack alumni game part of the Hoops for Hope weekend. The N&O has a story on it. Some things others that have been written about Hoops for Hope include this and this. One snippet of one article (from a GoPack.com):
But [NC State women’s basketball coach Kellie Harper] also knows that it is her duty to continue the momentum Yow created for this event, which regularly draws a sellout crowd to Reynolds Coliseum. . . .
“The event has been unbelievably successful for the last few years,” Harper said. “We don’t want to do anything to take away from that. Obviously, Coach Yow and her inspiration were huge draws for people. What we hope is that her legacy and her charge will continue to draw people to this event and to this cause.
“Hopefully, people realize that this is more than a basketball game. It’s an opportunity to give to and to support a great cause.”
Here is our contribution as part of our ongoing series, A Coach’s First Season: We’ve compiled some of the things people have said about Kay Yow throughout the season (ranging from Tennessee coach Pat Summitt to former NC State player Debbie Mulligan Antonelli ’86 to the players on the current team) as part of our ongoing series, A Coach’s First Season. Find that compilation after the jump.
And, immediately below we have an excerpt from an interview that NC State magazine did with Yow in spring 2007 in which she talks about the hardest thing she ever had to do: watch her mother battle cancer.
What is the hardest thing you’ve ever had to do?
Watch my mother suffer with cancer, because she had cancer in the 1980s and through the early 1990s. There just wasn’t much that could help her. They didn’t have the kind of antinausea medicine they have now for treatment, and she would be so sick after her treatment. Watching her take chemo and go through such a tough time. And then watching the last 15 days of her life.