Wolfpack Hold Media/Photo Day
Oct. 31, 2012
NC State begins the year with a rather challenging non-conference slate against some highly-touted teams such as Auburn, Florida, Arizona State, Michigan State, LSU and St. Bonaventure, which reached the Sweet Sixteen in last year’s NCAA Tournament, before the team settles into conference play. Harper believes the non-conference agenda will prepare the team for league play.
“It’s important for us to play quality opponents, and collect quality wins outside of conference,” Harper said. “Our kids want to play the best.”
Playing against good teams and winning is not just a pipe-dream for NC State this year. Despite graduating five seniors, the team returns some of its most important players, including four of its top five scorers from just a year ago, and everyone is aware that it all starts with senior guard Marissa Kastanek.
“No one works harder than Marissa,” Harper stated. “Because of that, people learn to respect her immediately. She did that as a freshman. Her skill set has developed, she has worked to get open better, worked on her mid-range game, but is constantly finding ways to be better.”
In her fourth season at the helm of the Wolfpack, Harper and her staff brought in a couple transfers who hope to have an immediate impact on the team, starting with the first game of the season, including 6’5 junior center Markeisha Gatling and 5’5 redshirt sophomore guard Len’Nique Brown.
Gatling, a transfer from Gulf Coast Community College, has been opening eyes and turning heads since arriving in Raleigh this fall, and Harper sees her as a key component that the team has lacked since taking over the program.
“Coming in from JUCO, she’s playing at a little bit of a higher level than our freshman,
Harper was short and to-the-point in her praise of Brown, a USC transfer who sat out the 2011-12 season due to NCAA transfer rules.
“She understands basketball,” Harper said. “She gets it. She’s savvy. She’s very fast with the basketball, very coachable, a great teammate but her speed is something we desperately needed.”
If the Wolfpack want to achieve the goals set out for itself, build upon last year’s trip to the second round of the ACC Tournament, and clinch an NCAA berth, Harper understands what the team needs to do.
“We have to be more consistent,” Harper stated. “Hands down, that’s the biggest idea our kids need to buy into. As long as we’re getting better every day, that’s the biggest thing for us.”
The Wolfpack will host North Greenville in its only exhibition game of the season this Sunday, Nov. 4 at 6:30 p.m., at Reynolds Coliseum. NC State will officially ring in the new season the following Friday, Nov. 9 at noon against Wofford.