One thing first-year women’s basketball coach Wes Moore certainly learned during his three seasons as an assistant under late Hall of Fame coach Kay Yow: a strong dose of humility.
In his first season as the head coach of the Wolfpack, Moore has guided his team to its best start in a decade (14-1 overall, 1-0 in the Atlantic Coast Conference), an early-season holiday tournament championship and its first national ranking since Yow led her 2006-07 team on a surprise and emotional run to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen.
Yet the first-year coach takes zero credit for the immediate success of a team that starts three seniors and two juniors.
“I don’t think [the start to the season ] is much about coaching or about me,” Moore says. “It’s about them. They wanted to step up and win so I think it started there. I always tell teams: It’s your team, we’re going to do as well as y’all want to do. I can’t make you buy in, I can’t make you work hard.
“We’re going to do as well as you want to do—and these kids have wanted to do well.”
The veteran Wolfpack is led by senior Markeisha Gatling, who leads the nation in field goal shooting percentage (70.1 percent), and the three-point shooting of senior Myisha Goodwin-Coleman and the inside play of senior Kody Burke.
But Moore, who was hired to coach the Wolfpack after 15 proficient seasons at Tennessee-Chattanooga, has his reasons for wanting to the Wolfpack succeed as well, not the least of which is carrying on Yow’s legacy. He was an assistant for the Wolfpack legend from 1993-95 and saw every day the little things she did to maintain a successful program.
And he knows what a beloved figure she was on the court, on campus and in the Triangle community.
“Everybody knows she was a legendary coach,” Moore says. “She was an even better person. I’ve never known a player that didn’t love Coach Yow. That’s a real testament. When I walk down these halls, when I looks at the banners in her honor and her name on the court, it is special.
“It’s a little surreal for me to be here. I never really dreamed of being back here as head coach.”
The Wolfpack plays its next two games on the road against two of the schools biggest rivals, at No. 13 North Carolina at 7 p.m. Thursday and a Sunday game at Wake Forest at 2 p.m. Sunday. It returns home to Reynolds Coliseum on Thursday, Jan. 16, at 7 p.m. to face No. 18 Florida State.
Admission to games are free for students, faculty and staff with a valid university identification card.