A Coach’s First Season: Getting to Know Assistant Coach Richard Barron and Senior Guard Sharnise Beal

January 16, 2010
By admin

Check out the above photos that Peyton Williams took of a recent practice with the Wolfpack women’s basketball team. After the jump, as part of our ongoing series “A Coach’s First Season,” we also have

  • thoughts from first-year NC State head coach Kellie Harper on the 83-66 loss to Boston College last Sunday and how the team moves forward,
  • Coach Harper’s answers to two readers-submitted questions,
  • a Q&A with senior guard Sharnise Beal, who talks about playing with an injury,
  • a Q&A with assistant coach Richard Barron, who talks about transitioning from a head coach to an assistant coach position and what he learned from former college coaches Terry Holland and John Lotz, and
  • a preview from a GoPack.com article on senior guard Nikitta Gartrell.

The Pack (11-6, 1-1) are in Tallahassee today for their 2 p.m. Sunday game against No. 16-ranked Florida State (15-3, 2-1), who are coming off a 80-50 win over Clemson Thursday night. Listen to the game on WKNC 88.1 or follow it on GoPack.com.

Comments from Coach Kellie Harper

NC State women's basketball coach Kellie Harper at a January press conference. (Photo by Peyton Williams)

NC State women's basketball coach Kellie Harper at a January press conference. (Photo by Peyton Williams)

Coach Harper On BC Loss, Moving Forward

On the loss to Boston College
I think, first of all, as a coach you try to look back at things you could have done differently and some things that come to mind are when we practiced, where we practiced, when did film, what time we ate dinner. I felt like our kids were tired and a step slow. . . . I was quite disappointed for a number of reasons. Number one was because we had shown progress, and I was hoping to build on that progress. And two, we just didn’t play well and did not shoot well. We really, really struggled to defend. I thought that game was the biggest defensive struggle for us this season. . . . In the locker room after the game, I was pretty animated. I was visibly frustrated and got a lot off my shoulders. I got a lot out after the game and I also told the girls that I was going to be miserable traveling home. I didn’t eat dinner. I watched the film on the airplane. It was heavy on me. That loss was heavy.

On how the team and coaching staff move forward
We have this whole week to get our practices in. We worked a lot on the fundamentals and shooting on Monday. Then, on Tuesday, we worked on different defenses. If we needed to put in something new, this is a good week to do that. We’re still working on our boxing out. We’re probably going to up our rebounding drill from one per practice to two per practice. The mistakes we made at Boston College are correctable. A lot of that was just being alert and finishing shots. . . . I’m still upset about [the loss], but usually that first practice after a loss really helps me because our players came back very willing to learn, they came back with good energy and after that practice, I’m OK. I think part of it is that until you have a practice, you don’t feel like you’ve made any progress. So after that first practice, you feel like you’re righting the ship and moving back in the right direction.

Coach Harper’s answers to reader-submitted questions

How will you keep the family atmosphere fostered by Coach Kay Yow, yet make the mindset more intense to win championships (conference and national)?

A storage bin that holds equipment for the Wolfpack women's basketball team. (Photo by Peyton Williams)

A storage bin that holds equipment for the Wolfpack women's basketball team. (Photo by Peyton Williams)

Anyone who is around our program sees the family atmosphere. I think it’s important that our coaches’ office doors are open. Our players constantly come in and sit down and chat. I think showing that we care for our players outside of the court is important. I think continuing to recruit good quality people with good character will help continue that chemistry that our team has. I think also that we’re available for fans. I think that’s important.

Will you draw a lot from your Tennessee experience and how Tennessee Coach Pat Summitt runs her program to instill that attitude at NC State?
One of the first things you would say after visiting Tennessee and spending time with the basketball team is that it is classy. And I definitely want to continue that here. I think that was done here [at NC State] in the past. It was a classy program and that’s something I want to continue. I know the culture at Tennessee was that you played to win every game and you expected to win every game. That’s obviously something we want something here.

Q&A with Senior Guard Sharnise Beal

Sharnise Beal, center, with Nikitta Gartrell and Inga Muciniece (Photo by Peyton Williams)

Sharnise Beal, center, with Nikitta Gartrell and Inga Muciniece (Photo by Peyton Williams)

We spoke with senior guard Sharnise Beal before practice Wednesday afternoon. As a junior, she missed the first seven games of the season because of a shoulder injury before starting 15 of the last 19 games and averaging 11.9 points a game. This year, her playing time has been limited as she continues to recover from knee surgery during the off-season. She’s sat out five games this season and has come off the bench to average 10.6 minutes a game and 2.7 points. She’s a native of New Britain, Conn.

What is the takeaway from the Boston College game?
You can’t stay too high off of one win. I think we were so excited on the Maryland win and how big that win was for us. But no other team cares that we win because they can beat Maryland, too. We have to focus game to game. . . . The first practice, everybody was expecting the worst. We thought we were going to get worked really hard. It was more of a shooting practice and individual skilled workout. I think it was good because it gave everybody time to reflect. A hard practice is not going to take away from the loss. We would probably focus more on the practice being so hard than on why we lost and what we need to work on. Working on the little things is good for us. . . . We just went over the film for the Maryland game [on Tuesday] and went over the Boston College film the day before.  I’m glad it was in that order. To see a game that we did well in was a reminder that we can do it. “The Boston College wasn’t you and here’s the proof in the pudding of what you really can do.” I think that was good, and it was kind of a confidence booster.

Have the players gotten together for a players-only meeting to talk about the Boston College game?
Actually, we did in the locker room. It just seemed like it was a total 360-degree turn from the Maryland game to the Boston College game. And we all agreed that we can talk and we can say that we’re going to do this and that, but actions speak louder than words. If we don’t do it, then what we’re saying doesn’t mean anything. We’re really focusing on getting a better start to every game, keeping the energy high, executing, and just doing our parts individually to be successful as a group.

How would you describe the team’s mindset right now?

Definitely focused. There are [12] games left in the regular season, and we need to win at least nine of them to get a 20-win mark to get us a better chance to get into the [NCAA] tournament. So everybody is focused and play time is over. There is no room for error. . . . I think that’s everybody’s main goal: to make the NCAA tournament.

How have the injuries impacted you as a player, and what role do yourself playing on this year’s team?
I definitely don’t feel like the same player. I don’t feel as explosive as I used to be. My knee still has its moments where it hurts pretty bad, but it’s not nearly as bad as it’s used to be. I still don’t feel like it’s 100 percent. . . .I just want to do what I can to help the team and doing it well when I’m given the opportunity, mainly focusing on defense. . . . You know, we’re not doing too bad this year. We’re actually doing a lot better this year than we were last year. So my double digits in points didn’t mean that much. Me scoring my two or three points a game this season and us winning, I’ll take that any day.

Sharnise Beal during a practice. (Photo by Peyton Williams)

Sharnise Beal during a practice. (Photo by Peyton Williams)

What have learned so far this year?
With the injuries, I have to say that even when you want to give up, you have to keep going. Everyone has their purpose and their reason. I just need to stay patient and be humble.

How would you describe this team?
Very funny, off the court. Interesting. We have a little bit of everything on the team. On the court, we sometimes lose our focus but when we’re determined, we’re determined. When we’re playing our best, I don’t think anybody can beat us really. I think it’s a team that perseveres. [Kay Yow’s] illness resurfaced my freshman year. I know my class, we’ve been through a lot, so it’s been tough. But we hung in there and stood it out.

As a guard, you work a lot with assistant coach Jon Harper. Describe his coaching style.
Jon is very laid back and his coaching style benefits us. We take in what he has to say because it’s not confrontational and he’s not chastising you. If you have someone yelling at you, sometimes you’re more focused on them yelling at you than on what they’re saying. He tells you what you need to do, explains it and even demonstrates it. Someone can you tell how to do it a million times, but if you can’t visualize what they mean, you won’t get it.

How did you get interested in basketball?
My grandmother is the reason I started playing basketball. She was a huge UCONN fan. She used to make me come in from the outside and watch the games. I took it up from there. It was cutting in to my play time, so I figured I might as well take it up. . . .I don’t even know how [my grandmother] got interested in it. As far back as I can remember, she was always interested in them.

When did you decide to attend NC State?
The start of my senior year, toward the end of the AAU summer. I had narrowed down my list to Ohio State, NC State and Maryland. I talked about it with my mom and my dad, and we agreed that [NC State] would be a very good fit and I wanted to play in the ACC. Obviously, Ohio State isn’t [in the ACC]. Maryland was, and there team was pretty stacked. Both have good coaches, but looking at the offenses the schools ran, I thought NC State would be a good fit. And the chance to play for Kay Yow, you can’t go wrong with that.

What are your career plans?
I’m a general education major so maybe be a school guidance counselor or school social worker. . . . It’s a setting where I can help people. Education is important, but that’s not where a lot of kids struggle. Not everybody has the opportunity of a decent home life. So just being that person outside of the classroom that they can go to and look up to and that can influence them in a positive way draws me to that career.

What do you want people to know about your team?
Everybody was looking in on us. “Poor NC State. They lost their coach and went through a coaching change.” We don’t want anybody to feel sorry for us. It’s life. You’re going to have hurdles. I just want people to see that we’re jumping over them and to see how hard we’re working to get through it. It’s not the easiest situation, but I just want people to recognize our effort. We’re going through a lot, but we’re getting through it as well.

Q&A with Assistant Coach Richard Barron

Richard Barron at a recent practice. (Photo by Peyton Williams)

Richard Barron at a recent practice. (Photo by Peyton Williams)

Richard Barron was the associate head coach of the women’s basketball team at Baylor University when, at the end of the 2008-09 season, he and his wife, Maureen, felt called to do something else, he says. The son of a minister, he always thought he’d someday go to seminary; and now, he had been accepted into the Princeton Theological Seminary. So off to seminary he goes. Right? He thought so . . . until Kellie Harper called. Soon after taking the helm of NC State women’s basketball program last spring ,Harper asked him to join her coaching staff here. Without hesitating, he says, he accepted. “If I hadn’t come here this year, I would have gone to Princeton seminary,” Barron says. “ . . . I felt very, very comfortable about who [Coach Harper and the staff] were, and it was very easy to feel good about working with them.”

He spent two years as the associate head coach at Baylor. There, he recruited the nation’s top-ranked girls basketball player, 6-foot-8 Brittney Griner. Before that, he was the head coach of the Princeton women’s basketball team from 2001 to 2007. He led the Tigers to the 2005-06 Ivy League title after inheriting a team that went 2-25 the season before he arrived. Among the players he coached at Princeton were Meagan and Lauren Cowher, the daughters of former NC State women’s basketball player Kaye Young Cowher ’78 and former NC State football player and former Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Bill Cowher ’79.

At Princeton, Barron also met his wife, Maureen “Mo” Davies Barron, who coached the softball team from 2000 to 2007, leading the Tigers to four Ivy League titles. She was a pitcher at the school from 1993 to 1997 and helped the Tigers to two appearances in the Women’s College World Series. The Barrons have three children: 6-year-old twin daughters, Lane and Rae, and a 3-year-old son, Billy.

Richard, who played basketball and baseball at Kenyon College, spoke to us Wednesday about the NC State program, his background, and his coaching experiences.

On the NC State program

Why did you want to work with Coach Harper and at NC State?
One, I think rebuilding is something I’ve always enjoyed; and other than Baylor, which wouldn’t really be classified as rebuilding because they were still pretty prominent, the programs that I’ve either inherited or have been a part of have been teams that have struggled in the previous year or sometimes the previous 10 years. So, it was about taking something and making it better. I really like that. It wouldn’t matter if it was fixing up a house and flipping it or cleaning stuff off that you got at a flea market and uncovering a treasure. I enjoy that very much. So I think that was part of it. And two, as a family, we wanted to be closer to my family. My parents still live in Knoxville; my brother is in Durham with his wife and child; my uncle is in Pine Hurst; and three cousins in the Triangle area and their kids. . . . . Baylor was a wonderful school and so are the people in Waco, but we felt very isolated there.

And then, in particular, knowing Kellie and [her husband and assistant coach] Jon [Harper] and just feeling like they are people I would enjoy being around and working with. Although I knew Kellie and Jon and spent time talking to them out recruiting, we had mutual friends that we have known for a long time, like Tony Cross [head women’s basketball coach at Belmont University]; Wes Moore [head women’s basketball coach at Tennessee-Chattanooga; and Pat Summitt [head women’s basketball coach at Tennessee]. They all think very, very highly of them. I felt very, very comfortable about who they were, and it was very easy to feel good about working with them.

Richard Barron, left, with Kellie Harper and Jon Harper before the Maryland game. (Photo by Peyton Williams)

Richard Barron, left, with Kellie Harper and Jon Harper before the Maryland game. (Photo by Peyton Williams)

Coach Harper, Jon Harper and Stephanie McCormick have been together as a staff for more than five years. What has it been like for you join this staff?
My transition has been pretty easy. For the most part, I’m just trying to be available and help where I can and not say or do too much. They, obviously, have worked together and they have a good understanding of how they want to do things. So I spend a lot more time trying to figure them out than they spend trying to figure me out. It’s a whole lot easier for me to do that than for all of them try to do that. . . .  It’s really been very easy. They’re really extremely easy people to work for and with. . . .  One of the nice things about this staff is that we always share duties, which is very different from my most recent past experience [as associate head coach at Baylor University]. . . . At Baylor, I did all the scouting and the recruiting.  The workload was overwhelming. I also didn’t feel like I could do it all as well as I wanted to if there was a kid I wanted to go and see. So in terms of recruiting, it was hard to be away if I was the only one doing the scouting. By sharing the load like we do [at NC State], there are opportunities for different people to get out. Everybody gets to have some input. For example, I saw a kid play in the summer that I liked a lot. But nobody else has seen them. If I’m the only one going out and watching them play during the season, I’ll still be the only one who will see them in person if someone else is doing the scouting report. As it is, here, on the week when I’m doing the scouting report, somebody else – either [assistant coaches Jon Harper or Stephanie McCormick] can go out and see the kid play. I think everybody is extremely accommodating and agreeable in terms of working with their schedules. It’s a nice feeling that everybody can do things and everybody can do them well. I value other people’s opinions of recruits, not just mine own. I like the fact that we all do scouting reports. I have great trust in what the other coaches come up with. If it’s not my scout, I still feel like I know that team because they’ve done a good job the way it’s presented to our team. Everybody is extremely competent.

Describe the type of players that would be a good fit for the NC State program.
A few things: One, character is really important. One of the things I like about this team is that they are good kids. . . Relative to what other programs deal with, our issues are minor. So I think that’s important — that we continue that and we bring in kids of good character and good people that you want to be around and that I want my children to be around. And I think that’s important to Kellie. We want people who have a certain work ethic and toughness. We like overachievers. We want kids who maybe have a little chip on their shoulders or something to prove. . . . I think those are kids that have the same sort of characteristics that I would describe for Kellie. Players will relate to her better; she will relate to them better. Having that toughness and grit and competitiveness — I think, as much as you can, you try to look for those things. Those are harder to find than the intangibles and harder to recognize sometimes. It’s not a draft, and there are a lot of moving parts when recruiting. You might recruit a lot of the right kids that might go somewhere else, some of them for reasons way beyond your control. So it’s not easy to get exactly what you think you want. Sometimes what you get is not what you thought it was.

The next thing would be highly skilled players. Where Kellie envisions this program going and the style of play that she wants to have, having versatile skilled players is important. I would make the comparison that it’s liberal arts of basketball: having people who can dribble with their right hand and left hand and shoot the ball well; having guards who can post up and posts who play on the perimeter; and having people who can guard multiple positions.

What should people know about Coach Harper and the NC State women’s basketball program?
Kellie doesn’t have any pretext about her. She’s not cocky. She’s competitive but her competiveness is completely internal. Her standard, and what she’s comparing herself to, is what she could be versus who she is. For example, her goal is not to be the best free-throw shooter in the country; it’s that if she made 85 free throws out of 100 and she knew she could have made 90, she wishes she had made 90. So she doesn’t compare herself to other people; she compares herself to what her potential is. Because of that, coming into this situation, it’s not about filling somebody else’s shoes . . . . She’s just completely in the moment and doing her best. Period. Because of that, she will do very, very well – at not only coaching any program, but coaching here, where under the circumstances, there are a lot of different expectations. . . .

On his coaching background

When did you know that you wanted to be a coach?
My father was a minister and very involved with Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and one of his friends was John Lotz, who was the assistant coach at UNC-Chapel Hill for Dean Smith [from 1969-1973] and was the head coach at the University of Florida [from 1973-1980]. We lived in Florida, and we would go see games and would help him recruit. It was a different time. I was in the University of Florida locker room a little as a kid, and I can remember Richard Glasper, the starting point guard, giving me his sweat bands and socks after the games. I remember the Gator Bowl tournament watch that my dad got from Coach Lotz. . . . I think there was a lot of groundwork laid then. Then we moved to Marianna, Florida, and we lived next door to the basketball coach at Chipola College [Milton Johnson]. He was one of the winningest coaches in junior college basketball. And one of our good friends in Marianna was a high school basketball coach who won a state championship. So again, I was surrounded by basketball. My dad played as a freshman at Davidson College and was a student coach with Lefty Driesell [who coached Davidson from 1960 to 1969) and Terry Holland [who played under Driesell at Davidson and was an assistant coach for him from 1964 to 1969 before being named Davidson’s head coach when Driesell went to Maryland]. So I’ve always been surrounded by these people without anybody trying to push me into it at all. . . .

When I decided to go to college, athletics and basketball was a big part of my decision. (He played baseball and basketball at Kenyon College.) I started working camps during the summers and still thought at the time that I would end up being a doctor. I was pre-med. When I graduated, I thought I was going to go to seminary. I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do: Did I want to coach? Did I want to go to seminary? Did I want to be a doctor? So I went down to Providence Day School [in Charlotte] and starting teaching science and coaching baseball and basketball. . . . And after a year, I was coaching college basketball at Sewanee. I was not expecting at all to coach women’s basketball. I was going to go to Virginia. I was very much a fan of Terry Holland, and I had gotten to where I was running his camps for him at the University of Virginia. I was accepted into Darden School of Business at Virginia, and I was going to go there to work for Coach Holland in the athletics office. The women’s basketball coach at Sewanee left, and at my going away party, the AD asked if I would stay. It was kind of a joke, but by the end of the party it was, “No really, why don’t you stay?” I was thinking about administration in the NBA, so I thought it might be good to have some experience with women athletics and I agreed to do it as an interim. One year became two years became three years. Then the Darden School of Business said I had to make a decision and couldn’t defer anymore. So I told the team I was leaving. I was headed to Darden. In the middle of the summer, half of the team showed up at my house and cried and told me not to leave. So I stayed. It was great. We had the best record. We won the league and led the nation in scoring. That led to Princeton, which led to the wife and the family. It was all supposed to be that way.

What did you learn from working with Terry Holland?
Terry Holland, John Lotz — to me they were people of great character. I had great respect for who they were as people. They had strong values in an era where – and it’s still that way — a lot of coaches pay lip service to certain things and then act very hypocritically. They were coaches that were true to those values. They were educators as much as they were coaches. They developed people not just players. They didn’t compromise their values. Winning was a byproduct of doing things the right way. . . .They were what I wanted to be as a coach and as a person.

Your first college coaching experience came when you were 26 years old. What was that experience like?
That first year was humbling. I was little brass and cocky. I learned a lot of things about people and gender differences and how to communicate. . . . Kathy DeBoar is wonderful at explaining the differences. [She’s executive director of the American Volleyball Coaches Association and former head volleyball coach and a senior associate athletic director at the University of Kentucky]. She has written books about gender differences [including “Gender and Competition: How Men and Women Approach Work and Play Differently”]. She says that men like the order and the structure and the hierarchy of the king of the mountain. You want to know where you stand: Who is in charge, who is second in charge, who is third? And you’re trying to constantly fit into that alpha-male sort of paradigm. For women, it’s much more about inclusion and cohesiveness. It’s like the model of a family reunion. Status is not the motivator; it’s the connection. So how you motivate is really important. In men’s athletics, a lot of times you challenge men by their manhood, which implies being feminine. Well, you can’t do that with women; you can’t challenge their manhood. That’s an obvious example. At the same time, you appreciate that there is still that toughness; they are just motivated from a different place. DeBoar gives a lot of examples. Like, when you have guys on the golf course, the first thing they start doing is betting and the whole conversation during the entire round of golf is going to revolve around play. “I missed that shot.” “I should have made that shot.” “You’re lucky you made that shot.”  Women do the opposite. They don’t want to keep score because they don’t want anyone to feel uncomfortable. They want to have a conversation, and it’s about enjoying the company.

What do you learn from coaching at Sewanee, a Division III program, and at Princeton that can help the NC State program?
I learned this the hard way at Princeton and was reminded at it at Baylor, but the importance of consistency as a coach. The more consistency with you means more consistency with the program. One of the things difficult at Princeton was the admissions standards and the way we did financial aid. It had so much to do with who got in and who came that you didn’t necessarily get to recruit to a certain type of player. You had to get the best players you could get. So, I thought that meant you would then try to change your system based on the personnel. I probably changed too much instead of being consistent with what I was doing and developing those players through the system. It’s exactly what the men’s teams did through the years and years and years with great success. They recruited the kids the same way but made them into Princeton basketball players

On being an assistant coach

Why did you leave your head coaching position at Princeton to become the associate head coach at Baylor?
[My wife Maureen] was head coach [of Princeton’s softball team] and I was a head coach. At Princeton, you always practice from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. That was a block time, and the season’s overlapped a good bit. We have three young kids, and it’s an extremely expensive area. We didn’t think we could do it on one salary and we were having a nanny raise our kids, and we didn’t want that to happen. As good as things were at Princeton for both of us – the women’s basketball team was doing well and we had great recruits coming in and “Mo” won every year in softball, our kids weren’t going to be that age ever again. Going to Baylor was a huge jump in pay and going into that type of program in the Big XII afforded the chance for “Mo” to be at home for the kids. I would have preferred to go to a BCS head job. But when I interviewed for those jobs, there seemed to be a stigma about the Ivy League. And a lot of assistants at BCS schools without head coaching experience were getting those type of jobs several years ago. It looked like it would be a smart route to take and at the same time allow my wife to be at home with the kids until they started at school.

Does she miss coaching?

Not at a whole lot. There are things she does miss about it, but she doesn’t miss the recruiting. . . .It helps having her as a former coach because she has expectations of me being gone. That’s hard if she didn’t have that background and I think she would have it hard to understand the hours and the inconsistency in being away. It’s difficult no matter what your background is that as a mom this is the only day I’m home out of 10 days. So she’s going to have nine days with two 6-year-olds and a 3-year-old by herself. She understands and appreciates the job and what’s required.

What’s it like to go from being a head coach to an assistant coach?
It was really hard. Not being able to say what you felt needed to say or wanted to say. It was humbling and trying to relearn that position and figure out what my job is to help this coach be their best. It’s not about me. How do I support them and give them what they need? Because they may not need everything I think or see. You can do too much or say too much. You can suggest too much, so trying to figure that out is important. It’s easier. Kellie looks for those opinions, but I still try being as quiet as I can be to allow her to be the voice and to not overwhelm her.  . . It’s  so different as a head coach when you’re watching a game. What are we going to run? Thinking ahead. You’re watching immediately instead of reacting to call. What are the matchups? Who’s tired? Who’s at the scorer’s table ? Who’s coming in? What play is the other coach calling? It’s so hard to do all that. It’s so easy to analyze a game when watching it on TV or watching it in the stands. It’s easy to say you’re not high enough on defense. When you go back and watch it on film, it’s obvious, but it’s difficult to see, especially the head coach, during the game. So the last thing you need is the assistant coach constantly chirping in your ear and distracting you. You want to make sure everything you say is meaningful and helpful and that you’re consistent and supportive of what the coach is trying to do and her agenda.

I don’t take losses as hard as an assistant coach as I did a head coach. . . .As an assistant, you don’t wrestle the guilt the same way as a coach. . . .But it’s really important that we bring the kind of energy that is consistent with what the head coach brings. I would describe Kellie as a nurturer, and I want to be consistent with that. . . .

(Photo by Peyton Williams)

(Photo by Peyton Williams)

What is it like on the recruiting trail?
It depends, and probably it’s different for different coaches. Sometimes it’s just going to see a game and coming back. It might be driving down to Charlotte to see a game and driving back that night. Or it could be like this week. I’ll go to Little Rock, Arkansas, and then New Jersey and Philadelphia on Wednesday and Thursday. I’ll be in Atlanta on Friday and then fly to Florida Saturday and meet the team on Sunday. That’s a very different sort of experience. It’s four different air plane trips, renting cars and trying to get good deals on hotel rooms. It’s not particularly fun. And then see you kids the play, make your evaluations and talk to coaches after the game. It takes a lot of time, sometimes for just a two hour or two-and-a-half hour pay-off in terms of actual exposure to the kid. For me, a lot of it is trying to maximize the rest of the time during the four or five days that you’re gone. Sometimes you’re seeing other coaches. It might be seeing friends in the area or seeing other college coaches and dropping by on practice. . . . You might see a former player and network. . . .  It’s a time to write and call and things you might be able to do while in the office because of distractions. So you take the time to catch up with recruits. It’s trying to get the most out of the time. The summer is a little more social. It’s a lot of travel in July, but you see a lot more coaches because everybody is recruiting. It can be a little bit more relaxed and getting to hang out and go to dinner. There are certain tournaments where there are breaks and everyone brings their golf clubs and plays the last day. That’s the summer.

Why basketball? What makes it worth it?
I love the game and still enjoy just shooting the ball and going out and playing around. I think one of the things that is really neat about basketball is that it’s a combination of the individual and the team game in the flow and that interdependency of it. Baseball is unique in that you’re by yourself at the plate but you’re playing as a group on defense but even then chemistry is not as important with baseball. It doesn’t matter how well you’re getting along with the centerfielder when you’re batting and it doesn’t matter how well you get along with the centerfielder when you’re fielding and playing first base. Those chemistry issues aren’t nearly as important. And football is so militaristic. There is a chain of command, and it’s scripted between every play. It’s extremely coordinated. To me basketball is more like life than any sport. It’s like parenting. You teach them how to live and you teach them strategies, but then they have to go out and do it themselves.

Feature on Nikitta Gartrell

Senior guard Nikitta Gartrell at a recent practice. (Photo by Peyton Williams)

Senior guard Nikitta Gartrell at a recent practice. (Photo by Peyton Williams)

GoPack.com posted this week an article from veteran sportswriter A.J. Carr on senior guard Nikitta Gartrell.

Here is a snippet:

Away from basketball, away from the tumult and shouting, Gartrell enjoys drawing and writing poetry.

Though not aspiring to become a Ms. Picasso, she produced a self portrait for an Art Appreciation project.

As for writing, two of her poems are about the late Kay Yow, her former Wolfpack coach. Another centers on her first year at NC State.

Yet Gartrell, on track to graduate this spring, eventually wants to be a police woman. That interest was spawned when she was in the 10th grade, watching Law & Order SVU, which is still one of her favorite television programs.

Read the rest here, and take a look at a Q&A we did with her in November.

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3 Responses to “A Coach’s First Season: Getting to Know Assistant Coach Richard Barron and Senior Guard Sharnise Beal”

  1. Ashley says:

    Thanks for another wonderful edition of A Coach’s First Season! Here are a few questions I would like for you to ask Coach Harper if possible:

    What is the first thing you did after learning you got the NC State job?

    What would be your dream non conference schedule? If they aren’t already on the schedule, are there any plans to put them there?

    How do you like living in the Raleigh area? How does it compare with the other places you have lived?

    What did you think about the Lane Kiffin situation?

  2. […] afternoon about their four years at NC State. Be sure to read the extended Q&As we did with Sharnise, Lucy and Nikitta earlier in the […]

  3. James says:

    i agree.. great season! everytime, you surprise us with new stuff, thanks and more power!
    Getting Over a Breakup

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