NC State women’s basketball head coach Wes Moore is no stranger to the rigors of a long season. This year with the Wolfpack, Moore and the team broke through and pushed their way through in the NCAA tournament, making it to the Sweet 16.
“I’m proud of the way such a young, inexperienced team especially on the perimeter,” Moore said. “Started out a little slow in the ACC and we played some tough teams early but very proud of the way they bounced back. Thought they were playing some pretty good basketball down the stretch which is when you want to be playing well.”
With Moore’s head coaching experience at Maryville University, his 15 years at Chattanooga and his current place with the Wolfpack, it’s no surprise that he received the ACC Coach of the Year award in 2016.
Senior Chelsea Nelson praised Moore as a coach for all four years of her college experience.
“I think he’s a terrific coach,” Nelson said. “He has so many plays designed for us, designed for each player at the moment. I just think he’s done a really great job with each team he has because he’s always had some type of obstacle he had to face. He’s always overcame every obstacle to the best degree that he can.”
Moore certainly did the unexpected. Defying the odds of what was predicted for this year’s team was no easy feat after losing four of last season’s starters. Along with losing scorers, the team also had lost experience and only had two seniors to guide it. Moore explained what making it this far meant to him.
“It was a very exciting run and the thing is you get greedy, you always want to win one more and then one more,” Moore said. “Really proud of this group, we lost a lot from last year’s team, especially on the perimeter. I thought our guards stepped up and then our two seniors, Akela [Maize] and Chelsea, had great years and provided reputable leadership. Again, it was a ‘feel good season’ but when it’s over you always wish you could’ve lasted a little longer.”
With the season over, Moore has already begun thinking of next season, including losing two seniors who were both the starting lineup for the post and ways to improve the team’s offense.
“Losing those two [Nelson and Maize] next year is going to be a challenge,” Moore said. “Feel good about our guards and what they were able to accomplish this year and the experience they gained. So now this year it’s gonna be flipped a little bit to being real young and inexperienced inside the paint. We’ll have to see if we can grow up in a hurry especially on the blocks. … Hopefully as a coach, I can figure out some things maybe to help us offensively to put up a few more points. And we can continue to defend and rebound, and keep building,” Moore said.
It doesn’t seem like there is a need to worry too much about the growth of the incoming freshman players. Nelson herself said that she was scared her freshman year but with the help of Moore, her teammates, and the entire staff, she was able to grow more confident with her transition to NC State.
“[Moore] talked to me before a lot and told me, ‘You have opportunity, you just have to work hard.’ And a lot of the staff always encouraged me. [Moore] helped a lot,” Nelson said.
And the help that Moore gave Nelson her freshman year wasn’t the end of Moore’s help to the team.
“I think he’s helped us grow a lot,” Nelson said. “He connects with us outside of basketball. He invites us over; he’s funny. He has two sides of him where he’s serious and to where he can connect with us as people. It helps with our relationship for him to understand us better and how to tell us certain things when he’s explaining stuff to us.”
Part of the reason why Moore connects with the team both on and off the court is due to his philosophy of surrounding oneself with good people, not just good athletes. And that mentality is what has helped him be so successful in the women’s basketball community.
“I think a big part of that is who you surround yourself with,” Moore said. “Starts with your staff, having great people who care about the players and want what’s best for them and obviously are willing to work hard. … We’re looking for the type of character and person that not only will help us have a successful career or successful year each year but also make the journey enjoyable. And I think it’s important that the players enjoy their experience at NC State. And a big part of that is who your teammates are, who you’re spending time with and we really do our best bringing in not only great players but great people into this program.”
That being said, Moore still is the coach for the program and takes it seriously. Helping the team grow and trying to get a new team to connect with each other year after year if only one part of the job. Moore describes what he tries to do for the team to help it grow as the coach.
“I’m very focused and passionate,” Moore said. “I want the players to try to be the best facets they can be, whether it’s watching film, learning a scout. This year we didn’t always click offensively as well as we would like but our defense, our rebounding, the things that you can control night in and night out, they bought into. You try to instill some toughness. This league is brutal.”
With such an experienced and seasoned coach, Nelson explained the type of confidence the team has in Moore.
“I would say having confidence in, you don’t really have much to worry about,” Nelson said. “You just got to know how to adjust and he helps with that. And we go over a lot of things in practice so it’s good to have a coach that’s able to handle things in that degree.”
Throughout his career, Moore has been influenced by many people, including Pat Summit and Kay Yow.
“I think you draw from all those experiences and relationships and take a little bit from each,” Moore said. “You still have to be yourself.”
And it’s through that balance of taking wisdom from others but still retaining his competitive nature that wants to win every game that Moore will move forward into next season.