by Mike Potter
N.C. State is badly in need of a victory Thursday afternoon.
If the Wolfpack wants to play in the post season, it definitely needs to complete a three-game sweep of Clemson in the first round of the ACC Women’s Basketball Tournament at Greensboro Coliseum.
The No. 8 seed Wolfpack (15-15) and No. 9 seed Tigers (9-20) will square off at 2 p.m., with that winner taking on the No. 1 seed Blue Devils on Friday at 2.
Thursday’s 6 p.m. game will have No. 7 seed Georgia Tech (14-15) taking on No. 10 seed Wake Forest (12-18), with that winner advancing to a Friday contest against No. 2 seed and defending champion Maryland (23-6).
And in Thursday’s nightcap at 8, No. 6 seed Virginia (16-13) will play No. 11 seed Boston College (11-18), with that survivor taking on the No. 3 seed Tar Heels on Friday at 8.
Semifinals are on Saturday afternoon beginning at 1 p.m., with the title game at 2 on Sunday.
The Wolfpack beat the Tigers 79-45 on Feb. 10 at Reynolds Coliseum, and again 63-47 on Sunday in Clemson.
Wake Forest is the only team to win its first game in the tournament for each of the last four seasons.
They said it …
N.C. State coach Kellie Harper: “There's not a whole lot of changes that we're going to make to our scouting report that we just had at Clemson. I don't know about getting the team ready. I don't know if that's actually easier, though. You want to make sure your players are going to be focused when you walk into that arena no matter who you're playing. I think sometimes when you lose a game, you’re able to pick it apart a little easier and find ways to do things differently. When you win, you want to just keep doing what you do. So I think we've got to be very careful as a staff that we look at this game as to not only what we did right but what can we do better.”
Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie: “Each year it's been the same, we've prepared the same. We've won it a couple years and then had lesser success other years. The reality is it's a brand-new season and seeds don't matter. That's just how you figure out who plays who. So from our standpoint everybody is 0-0. It's refreshing in a lot of ways, because the regular season to me is very, very difficult and kind of a grueling endurance contest, and so the ACC Tournament is one for the fans. It's exciting, it's in a great place, it's an honor to be a part of it, and it's a lot of fun. But without question it's a brand-new start for everybody, for every team, and I think that’s what brings it a lot of energy. I think that’s the way to look at it.”
UNC coach Sylvia Hatchell: “We wanted this team to love being a blue-collar team, just working hard. They’ve really bought into that, and I think that's been a really big key, the motivation of finishing as one of the top teams in the conference. This has just been one of my best years in coaching ̶ it's not all about wins and losses, but just the fact that the kids are so coachable. They listen, they do what you tell them to do, and they experience success because of that. We’ve had tremendous results.”