Let's talk about basketball! I know what you are thinking, but this is a happy post! I'm talking about the NC State women's basketball team. They don't get the recognition that they deserve, so I'm going to give you some information and facts that you may not know. If you aren't familiar with the Wolfpack women, then you are missing something special. They are currently ranked 3rd in the women's top 25 poll, and they are 20-2 for the season! They have 4 McDonald's all-Americans on the roster and 3 McDonald's All-American nominees. Let that sink in for a second. This team is really good. They have already beaten UConn, which was number 2 at the time, and Colorado, which was number 3 at the time. They also have beaten UNC and Louisville in the past week, and they were also ranked In the top 25. What is even more amazing, is that they weren't even ranked before the season started! The two games that they have lost were while they were playing without starting center River Baldwin, who is playing at an elite level this year. She injured her ankle against her former team. She is a McDonald's all-American and a transfer from Florida State. She gives them rim protection and an imposing force in the paint.
If you haven't seen them play, either live or on TV, you are missing a treat. I will admit that I didn't have a huge interest in women's college basketball until 5 or 6 years ago, but I have to tell you, it is some of the most exciting basketball that I have ever watched, and these ladies play at an extremely high level. They have so many offensive weapons who can score at any time, and defensively they get after the basketball. Saniya Rivers leads the team in steals, and defense is a hallmark of this team. To illustrate how popular they have become, every home game in Reynolds Coliseum is sold out, and I don't think it would be a problem to sell out a venue with 2 times the seating capacity of the historic venue, which was completely reworked several years ago. The ACC is an incredibly strong conference with 6 schools ranked in the top 25, which is almost unbelievable when you think about it.
Wes Moore is the head coach and he is in his 11th season at NC State after coming here from UT Chattanooga where he had an unbelievable amount of success. His teams won the Southern Conference championship 12 times, and he was Southern Conference Coach of the Year multiple times. Many of you might not know that he was an assistant at State under the legendary Kay Yow before his time at UT Chattanooga. His success since coming to NC State is nothing short of remarkable. He is 256-81, and his overall record is 814-250. That record is indicative of his coaching ability. He has built a women's college basketball dynasty, and he has made NC State a destination school for the best high school players in the country. He won 3 ACC championships in a row with 2 Sweet Sixteen and an elite 8 appearance in the NCAA tournament. I firmly believe that he will win a national championship and that could be this year. The Wolfpack women are as good as any team in the country.
The roster is a very dynamic one, with 2 outstanding guards who can take the ball to the basket and make 3-pointers, which makes the defense work much harder, and also creates more offensive rebounds. and this team is a very good offensive-rebounding team. Wes Moore knows how to build a roster. He has put together a group that really has no weaknesses. The guard play of Saniya Rivers and Aziaha James checks all the boxes as far as what you want from your frontcourt. There are also freshmen Zoe Brooks and Laci Steele. Both of these ladies are going to be stars for Wes Moore. Then there is Madison Hayes on the wing. She can shoot from long range, but she can take the ball to the basket too. Mimi Collins is a stretch four, but if she is left alone she will knock down shots from beyond the 3-point line. I have already mentioned River Baldwin. She is so important to this team in so many ways. Rebounding, paint protection, scoring off the pick and roll, and she is the best free throw shooter on the team at 84%. There are other very talented freshmen on the bench as well, like Maddie Cox and Mallory Collier.
The lady Wolfpack likes to push the ball and score in transition, and this is when they are at their best. If there is a weakness, It is in the half-court offense. Sometimes they get stagnant and don't move the ball as well as they could. I think they are back on track since their 2 losses and rolling toward another ACC championship and, as of right now, a number one seed in the NCAA tournament.
The thing that I like the most about watching this team play is their confidence. They expect to win every game, and as a fan so do I. They are also so fun to watch. They will lose a lot of talented players after this year, but Wes Moore has a top 5 recruiting class coming in next year, and with his coaching ability I expect them to be right back where they usually are, and that is at the top of the ACC. If you haven't watched them play, I urge you to do so. The excitement level is so invigorating, and it will make you feel good. It's a dynasty, and it will be as long as Wes Moore is here. The next game is Thursday night against Virginia Tech, and it is a chance to avenge one of their two losses. The game is at Reynolds, and River Baldwin is almost back to full strength. If they can pull off the win, it will be the third win against a ranked opponent in the last week.