Sometimes you think you’ve caught magic in a bottle…but then you forget to screw the cap on tight.
State Women’s Basketball went all out for months, more than making up for last season’s premature ending. They rolled through the regular season, won the ACC (again) and broke records, gathered accolades and pushed deep into March.
For some awful and strange reason, it wasn’t enough.
The Indiana Game
We knew it would be close. Vegas almost hit the winner exactly (I hate how damn good they are). But you couldn’t help but feel pain of watching it all happen, while still feeling hope.
Don’t get me wrong, Indiana played about as well as they could have. There was a stretch from the end of the 2nd through 3rd quarter, that the Hoosiers were shooting 15 for 17. I would like to assure you, they don’t normally go 88% from the field. Their defense at times, was just as perfect, to the point the energy was purely coming from their side alone.
But, still can’t help to think it was State, themselves, that were the culprits for the loss. For a team that averages 12.8 turnovers a game, Indiana had 10 steals alone. Half of State’s 17 total turnovers were good defense or Indiana capitalizing on beyond lazy passes. The other half, were passes completely out of bounds, directly to people’s feet, or untimely travels. If you take away just feet passes inside, State probably wins.
Moore was getting heat for the timeout he took with 13 seconds remaining. Everyone knew he should have saved it. Instead of drawing up a play from half court, State had to go the full distance on just reactions alone. It didn’t work out too well. Perez drove, but every dish pass was 180 degrees behind her.
And then it was over.
Coach Wes Moore
We’ve written about it before, and we’ll say it again; Wes Moore is the greatest thing to happen to State’s basketball program (from either Men’s or Women’s) since Jimmy V. The man is passionate about State, invested in his players and a true leader for the sport of women’s basketball.
The thing that stands out the most, however, is his character. When most coaches dip and dodge the hard to take questions or pressure, Moore goes all in. Immediately after the game he took blame for the timeout. There were more “I did this wrong” than pushing it to the players. Love how he admits that the Sweet Sixteen is a hump, and they need to get over it and will. That’s MY damn ball coach.
State is in a prime position for yearly success. Not saying that there won’t be rough stretches or that ACC titles are just going to be an every year thing. As State fans, we first and foremost want to be competitive. We want our teams to be in the conversation for greatness, and Moore is the perfect keystone to building that tradition.
Watching the time click down, could only think about how awesome it would be for Kayla Jones to get into the game…or hell…imagine if she would have been healthy from the get-go? Will she or Crutchfield be back? We have time to discuss that, but if they did, the team couldn’t be more perfect.
Cuane will continue to evolve as a player. Gaining strength on the defensive end and power moves in the paint on offense. Boyd and Brown-Turner are lightning in a bottle, and the experience they gained over the last three plus weeks is immense. Those three alone will be All-ACC and All-American nominees from opening tipoff next year.
Perez and Crutchfield were so fun to watch all season, but in particular this last stretch run. Did you know, that those two were 98% from three when their team needed them the most?*
One last thing, and this touches back on Wes Moore…In this NCAAT, both Bryant and Sutphin, looked far more mature than Freshman status would lead you to believe. Neither played extensively this season, yet in the biggest moments of said season, they came off the bench and were productive. Excited to see what this coaching staff can continue to do with future classes.
*Don’t look that stat up, just trust us.
Got All-American honors. Got another ACC title. Got a National Coach of the Year honor. Got a #1 seed.
Simply put, while the pressure will undoubtably increase, this team will continue to succeed and break barriers that State fans will have never seen before.
Thanks again for an awesome season, in the most awkward of times.