In the recent surge of new coaches introduced to the N.C. State athletics programs, Director of Athletics Debbie Yow has looked to candidates focused on creating new traditions within the department. Men’s basketball Head Coach Mark Gottfried notably referred to beginning new traditions during the 2012 Sweet 16 run.
But when the search for the next leader of the women’s basketball program began, Yow didn’t look toward setting a new standard. She pushed to get back to the old one, the one her late sister and former women’s basketball coach Kay Yow set over a 34-year career at State.
Wes Moore, the new man on the bench for the Wolfpack Women, was a member of the coaching staff that helped build State into the women’s basketball power that it was. Moore was on the bench with Kay Yow from 1993-95. During his previous stint in Raleigh, State went 34-24 and reached the Sweet 16.
There was no doubt in Moore’s mind that Kay Yow influenced his career and his decision to return to State.
“You have some time to reflect on it a little bit and again. … If it wasn’t for coach Yow, without a doubt I wouldn’t be standing here today,” Moore said. “A lot of reasons. Coach Yow, she’s in every basketball hall of fame there is, but she is an even better person. She meant a lot to me throughout my career.”
The hire felt like the program wasn’t necessarily getting a new coach, but rather just a new coach for a new generation of Wolfpack players, freshman guard Ashley Eli said.
“He speaks very highly of coach Yow, as our University does,” Eli said. “I think what’s special is that he understands the tradition here and the Play 4 Kay stuff. Basically it’s like we’re not having a new coach – it’s a new coach for us – because he’s already been here. I think it’s special that he’s been here and knows the tradition and what it takes to win.”
Despite the affiliation with Kay Yow, Moore has carved out an impressive path of his own. Moore has coached on all three levels of collegiate basketball [Division I, II and III] and has succeeded in each position. He garnered conference Coach of the Year awards on each level. In his last stop at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, he led the Mocs to nine NCAA tournament appearances and won the Southern Conference Coach of the Year award six times.
“I think that being the eighth all-time winningest coach in the history of the sport made a big difference for us,” Debbie Yow said. “Wherever he has coached at, he’s been successful.
“As long as we’re able to provide the support in resources, I think we’re going to see the same thing happen here over time. It’s a challenge to come in here and do what he’s trying to do for us, but we think he’s the right person.”
He is also drawing comparisons to the previous women’s basketball coach, Kellie Harper, in terms of his game plan. According to junior forward Kody Burke, Moore plans on centering the offense around one dominant post player and setting up four shooters on the perimeter, similar to Harper’s strategy.
With tradition and family intertwining in this hire for State, Debbie Yow said the woman who made Wolfpack women’s basketball what it is today would be satisfied with the direction of the program under Moore.
“Of course it matters,” Debbie Yow said. “It matters to me because my sister did coach here for 34 years. So, I think she would be happy with this choice.”