NEWS, NOTES &
The Bradsher Beat
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
By Bethany Bradsher
Moore plots course for "next
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(Chattanooga SID Photo)
Most of Wes Moore’s
previous coaching stops have been rescue operations, when he was called
in to resuscitate a faltering program. In this, his fourth head coaching
job, he inherits a healthy East Carolina women's basketball program that
needs aggressive health maintenance and a periodic infusion of big
It’s a different approach
for Moore, who inherited a University of Tennessee-Chattanooga program with
an 8-19 record and turned things around so thoroughly that his Moccasins won
eleven consecutive Southern Conference titles. ECU athletic director Terry
Holland put that streak in perspective on Tuesday.
“No coach on the men’s
side in the history of college basketball has ever done that, and only one
on the women’s side, Geno Auriemma at UConn,” Holland said. “That gives you
an idea of what that accomplishment is like. So we’ve got a proven winner at
After a whirlwind
interview process and an emotional farewell to his UTC players, Rouse
arrived in Greenville with just enough time for a brief meeting with the
Lady Pirates before facing the media at a Tuesday afternoon press
conference. That crash course left him little time to make detailed
assessments of his new team, but he knows that he inherits a team that is in
the habit of winning.
“Everyone I’ve talked to
has assured me that this is a great group of young ladies to work with, and
of course they’ve already proven that they’re a very talented team with the
success they’ve had of late,” Moore said. “Hopefully that great foundation
that has been laid, and that taste of winning that they’ve enjoyed will make
them hungry to win championships and to continue to try to go to the next
The Lady Pirates finished
the 2009-10 season 23-11, losing in the second round in their first-ever
trip to the Women’s NIT. When they tip off again in the fall, the roster
will feature all of last year’s starters returning to the court, with
seniors Kim Gay, Shaunda Ashford, Allison Spivey and Kelly Smith leading the
The players have been on
a rollercoaster ride since Sharon Baldwin-Tener announced on April 16 that
she was leaving Greenville for the head coaching post at Georgia State.
Spivey and her teammates, especially the upperclassmen, were rattled by the
news initially, she said, and then they spent an anxious two weeks wondering
who would lead them next.
Even though they have
only talked briefly to Moore, all of the players are relieved to be moving
forward and excited about their new coach’s winning tradition and reputation
as a team unifier.
“I think there are a lot
of people on the team who are willing to help him,” Spivey said. “We started
off on a good foot.”
Freshman Ariana Jackson,
one of the top newcomers on last year’s squad, said that their initial team
meeting with Moore started off quietly, but as they all became more
comfortable with each other the players starting asking him questions about
himself, his team policies and his goals for the Pirate program.
“I’m really excited about
our new coach,” Jackson said. “I think he’s going to do good things for our
Moore has been in women’s
college basketball for more than 25 years, and in that time he has compiled
epic statistics and watched the sport rise to prominence through the WNBA
and the national exposure given to powerhouses like Tennessee and
Connecticut. At UTC, Moore saw this illustrated in burgeoning crowds — the
Mocs’ average attendance soared from 200 to 2,000 in his time there — and in
the passion for the game those fans showed.
Pick any part of Moore’s
career biography, and an impressive statistic jumps out. In 2003-’04, his
squad put together a 27-game winning streak that started in November and
didn’t end until a second-round loss at the NCAA tournament in March.
At Francis Marion
University, he took the team from 11-15 to 30-3 in just three years. At
Maryville College, his new team had won only three times in two years, and
in his first season his team tied the school record for wins, with 15.
But, Moore is quick to
point out, he didn’t score any of those points or make any of the rebounds,
so his number one emphasis must always be on finding and nurturing the right
“It’s all about players,”
said Moore, whose first order of business is to make some recruiting calls
and prepare to hit the road when recruiting season starts this summer.
“During the official first year at Chattanooga we won 10 games. My second
game at Chattanooga, we won 26 games. It wasn’t that I just all of a sudden
got smart. We got players.”
inspire others to consider the possibilities and to dream big,”
Holland said at Moore’s introduction Tuesday.
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