Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Harper Era Opens In Style, Wolfpack Women Roll 87-44

**With the launch of the new site coming soon, we have brought on a little help in hopes to expand and grow. We have a new writer who will be covering Women's basketball this season. We hope you follow along as Kellie Harper and company try to bring the Wolfpack Women back into the national spotlight.

On Monday night, for the first time in 34 long years, the NC State women’s basketball team opened the competitive basketball season without head coach Kay Yow leading the way for the Lady Wolfpack. Instead, it was first-year coach Kellie Harper coaching up-and-down the court, shouting plays and instructing an experienced Wolfpack squad which includes 11 of 12 players returning from last year’s team, a team who compiled an overall record of 13-17 overall and 5-9 in conference, good enough for 9th place in the loaded ACC. With the regular season less than two weeks away, Harper and company took the floor for the first time in an exhibition game against the North Greenville Crusaders, a D-II university out of Tigerville, South Carolina. The pre-season jitters seemed to wear off immediately as the Wolfpack women played tenacious defense and executed to precision all night long in route to a 87-44 victory.

Appointed as the new head coach on April 16, 2009, the 32-year old Harper looks to continue the vision which Coach Yow dreamt about for so many years. The dream was to consistently be a national contender and compete with the best in the conference and the nation. If anyone knows how to accomplish this vision, it might be Coach Harper. A point guard on the Tennessee Lady Volunteers’ basketball team from 1995-1999 under legendary Coach Pat Summitt, Harper helped lead her team to SEC tournament championships in 1996, 1998, and 1999, and 3 straight NCAA titles in 1996, 1997, and 1998 with a perfect 39-0 record in 1997-1998. These accomplishments eventually would gain her entry into the Tennessee Lady Volunteer Basketball Hall of Fame. However, not only is Coach Harper a winner as the athlete, she has also proven herself as a worthy instructor and coach. Serving as an Assistant Coach on the Auburn Tigers squad, as well as at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. She also found success when she took the head job at Western Carolina. The next chapter in her story began last night when the she led her Wolfpack women to a convincing victory in their opener.

The Lady Wolfpack dominated the game from tip-off until the final whistle blew with very little trouble in establishing dominance over an outmatched Crusaders team. The Pack began the game on an 11-0 run and held the Crusader’s on a drought that they were unable to break until the 15:55 mark in the first half. The Wolfpack was paced by senior Lucy Ellison who finished with 10 points and 9 rebounds, junior Tia Bell who had 14 points and 9 rebounds, and by sophomore Bonae Holston who finished with a game high in points and rebounds with 19 and 11 respectively. Though the team played great all-around ball, they finished with 18 turnovers, a stat which Coach Harper, being a former point guard, will not let continue. Overall, however, Harper was excited about the exhibition victory and felt that it was a good first showing for her ball club.

"We we're really excited, I know the girls were really excited to play somebody else." said Harper. "I'm pleased with the effort most of the game. I'm really anxious to go study this on film. I think film is a great teaching tool. We will watch a lot of it tomorrow and work hard to get better."

The first half saw alternating scoring runs from both teams and impressive offensive rebounding from a resilient Wolfpack frontcourt. NC State finished with a 62-25 edge on the boards, 27 which were offensive rebounds. The first half concluded with a balanced attack from the Wolfpack leading the Crusaders 42-17, even with the absence of Sharnise Beal, leading returning scored from last year (11.5 ppg) who was out with a knee injury. Each of the 11 players on the team who were eligible to play registered at least 14 minutes, with 10 of those 11 players getting in on the scoring column. The defense was also on key as the Pack held North Greenville to 19.2% shooting in the first half, and 23.1% for the game. The second half was much of the same with the Pack getting ahead early and steadily increasing their lead until it reached a game high 43 when the final buzzer rang. NC State outmatched North Greenville in points in the paint by a margin of 46-4, second-chance points 28-8, fast break points 18-4, and bench points 41-12.

Picked to finish 9th in the ACC this year, the Lady Wolfpack looks to play its official season opener on Friday, November 13 against Florida International at Reynolds Coliseum in Raleigh in the Sheraton Raleigh Wolfpack Invitational. Here Coach Harper will look to record her first official win in the NC State record books on her way to RE-establishing the Wolfpack as a national powerhouse, but for now she and everyone else should be happy with their performance against North Greenville University.

By Patrick Stephenson
Photo courtesy of GoPack.com


10 Responses to "Harper Era Opens In Style, Wolfpack Women Roll 87-44"
  1. Anonymous said...
    November 3, 2009 at 9:15 AM

    Harper appears to be the best hire NC State has made in possibly over a decade.

  2. Anonymous said...
    November 3, 2009 at 9:51 AM

    Hopefully! I believe the women's soccer coach is also and excellent hire. Can lightning strike twice?

  3. keihin said...
    November 3, 2009 at 9:56 AM

    Great coverage of the Women's opener. Glad to see WPH stepping up to cover this program.

  4. Anonymous said...
    November 3, 2009 at 10:18 AM

    Not sure if blowing out a high school team is reason to get all excited. Granted, she seems competent, but I say we let her results over a sustained period of time do the talking for her.

  5. wolfie91 said...
    November 3, 2009 at 11:28 AM

    Coach Harper has won consistently her whole life. I cannot imagine that she won't do it here.

  6. Alum02 said...
    November 3, 2009 at 12:19 PM

    The thing I like seeing the most is the uptempo style and aggressive play. That is what attracts top notch recruits and that is what you ultimately need to win big. If Coach Harper can put together a respectable season, finish in the top half of the ACC, and pick up a big win or two she'll start to pick up better recruits. I'm looking forward to hearing more about the team. Thanks.

  7. Otis said...
    November 3, 2009 at 7:26 PM

    Expandin some more WPH. It'll be great to see how Harper is doing, she has got some big shoes to fill. Are we going to see similar coverage of the womens' team as we have seen of the men's team?

  8. WPHIntern said...
    November 3, 2009 at 9:41 PM

    We hope to get out as much information about Coach Harper and the team as we can.

  9. ppack3 said...
    November 4, 2009 at 11:03 AM

    WPHIntern! What's up? Good to have you on board. Thanks for taking on writing responsibilities for Women's Hoops. This will be a great addition to the site. I wish Coach Harper the best of luck here in Raleigh. She seems enthusiastic, and knowledgeable. The players obviously love her, and can relate to her easily.

    It doesn't hurt my feelings that she's easy on the eyes, either! I know I shouldn't say that, but I can't help it.

    She's got the whole package. She's working out with the team. She's running drills and leading by example. She's a breath of fresh air that's bringing new life to our Women's BB Program.

    I would never belittle Coach Yow's legacy. I have, and I think we all do, the utmost respect for what she did for our players, our fans and our University. Having said that, Coach Yow was struggling to maintain the program for the past few years. Coach Harper can now carry that torch into the future, and make Kay Yow proud.

    So, good luck to the team. I'm already taking a much heavier interest in the Women's team. Some of that is also because I now have a young daughter, and I want her to know that sports is not just for boys. She's already a big Pack fan (she can do the Wolfie Sign at 2-years old). So, we will be introducing her to Women's Basketball really soon. The best part is, that we get to go to Reynolds to see them play. Thanks again, Intern. And good luck with your new position.

    Go State!

  10. matthew David Crittenden said...
    November 16, 2009 at 6:19 AM

    yeah patrick nice article


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