A Coach’s First Season: Pack Still Trying to Find Consistency

January 11, 2010
By admin

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Consistency. That’s the word that Kellie Harper, head coach of the Wolfpack women’s basketball team, has impressed upon her team over the past several weeks as ACC play began. To be successful in the ACC, she said, you have to consistently crash the boards, be scrappy, and play with high energy and with a sense of urgency. NC State’s 83-66 loss to Boston College on Sunday in Chesnut Hill, Mass., drives home that need for consistency, Harper told the Wolfpack sports radio crew after the game. (Game recap and post-game comments after the jump. Go to GoPack.com for a box score and another game recap.)

“For us to be good consistently, it has to be a total team effort. We can’t rely on one or two people. If you go and play well every single night, you’re going to come up with some wins,” she said. “You’ll see at the end of the season that the consistent teams will be up at the top. You can’t be up and down. You can’t have peaks and valleys. Unfortunately, we’ve just hit a peak and a valley in the last week.”

On Thursday night, NC State opened its ACC schedule by dominating Maryland 73-45 in a game that she called the best effort from her team all season. But against Boston College (6-5, 1-0) on Sunday, the Pack got off to a slow start. At halftime, Harper called her team’s play during the first 20 minutes of the game “horrendous.”

Defensively, the Pack gave up 30 points in the paint, and the Eagles shot nearly 55 percent from the floor (18 of 33). Offensively, NC State made 13 of 33 shots (39 percent) and scored just 2 points on fast breaks and only 2 points on second-chance points, as the Eagles out-rebounded the Pack 21-13. The result of the slow start was a double-digit deficit for the Pack that extended to as much as 15 points. Still, NC State rallied, taking advantage of Boston College’s 11 first-half turnovers.

Down 36-21 with 5:07 left in the half, NC State’s Emili Tasler nailed a 3-pointer to jump start a 14-8 run to close out the half. During the run, the Pack got a 3-pointer from freshman guard Marissa Kastanek and an old-fashioned 3-pointer from senior guard Nikitta Gartrell to trail 43-35 at half.

On its first four possessions of the second half, Boston College missed a shot and had three turnovers as NC State took advantage to its extend its run. Gartrell made a12-foot jumper with 17:18 left to cut Boston College’s lead to 45-43. That prompted a Boston College timeout.

Out of the timeout, the Eagles scored the next six points (four coming on free throws) and never allowed the Pack another run. Boston College had 17 defensive rebounds in the second half, when the Pack shot 35 percent from the floor, and took advantage of their foul trouble, knocking down 20 of 21 free throws to gradually stretch its lead.

“Part of what we are going to talk about [with the team] is that you can’t let your offensive production dictate how you play. We’ve got proof that if we shoot the ball great, we play great, [like] against Maryland. If we don’t shoot the ball well [like we did against Boston College], then we’re done. We can’t let that happen,” Harper told the Wolfpack sports radio network after the game. “Good teams don’t let that happen. Good teams find a way to win.”

Sophomore forward Bonae Holston led NC State with 19 points; Gartrell added 15 points and Kastanek 10. Boston College’s Mickel Picco scored 21 points (17 in the first half), and Carolyn Swords added 17 points and 16 rebounds.

The loss snaps a four-game winning streak for the Pack, which drop to 11-6 overall and 1-1 in league play. NC State’s next game is Sunday, Jan. 17, at Florida State at 2 p.m.

Post-game comments from Coach Kellie Harper, as told to the Wolfpack sports radio network

On NC State’s energy level
We did not have the same energy that we had had in our last game. We did not shoot the ball well to start the game. We missed a lot of easy baskets that we have to be able to make. With that being said on one end, we struggled on we can’t give up 80-something points and expect to win a basketball game. Our offensive woes were the scoring. The defensive woes were that they scored wherever they wanted to. . . We looked a step slow out there. Sometimes when you make baskets early, your energy gets going, and that’s exactly what happened. We didn’t get some stops early on. That’s where sometimes teams tend to let their offense dictate how the game is going to go. We don’t shoot well early, we have no energy. You have to make your own energy and have manufacture points in those situations.

On the need for consistency
We had some kids fighting some whole game, but I’m very disappointed in some of our players. They didn’t show up the way they needed to do. For us to be good consistently, it has to be a total team effort. We can’t rely on one or two people. It has to be a total team effort. . . . If you go and play well every single night, you’re going to come up with some wins. You’ll see at the end of the season that the consistent teams will be up at the top. You can’t be up and down. You can’t have peaks and valleys. Unfortunately, we’ve just hit a peak and a valley in the last week, and we have to correct that. We’ll figure out a way.

On building consistency
It’s been an issue with us: consistency. Part of what we are going to talk about is that you can’t let your offensive production dictate how you play. We’ve got proof that if we shoot the ball great, we play great, [like] against Maryland. If we don’t shoot the ball well here, then we’re done. We can’t let that happen. Good teams don’t let that happen. Good teams find a way to win. Good teams will tighten up even better on defense. Occasionally tonight we played good defense and they scored anyway . . . . But so many times we had breakdowns that shouldn’t have happened. . . . Not everybody was as focused and that’s something that I’m going to hit home in on in the locker room.

(Photograph by Tim O’Brien)

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