A Common Bond

RALEIGH, N.C. -- The members of the team entered the arena focused and with one simple, yet important, task at hand.

After 40 minutes of play, the job was done.

NC State won, and the men’s basketball team felt like its job had been done. It was a collective victory for the Wolfpack.

And when the men play at PNC Arena, they can expect the same unbridled support from the women’s team that they vigorously cheered for on Sunday.

In what has become a common occurrence this season, several members of the NC State men’s basketball team was in Reynolds Coliseum on Sunday afternoon to support the women’s squad, who triumphed over Wake Forest, 71-55, in a key ACC showdown. The season has had its ups and downs for both, but the encouragement they have had for the other throughout the process has been a constant.

The two basketball programs at NC State are indelibly linked. From Jim Valvano and Kay Yow to Mark Gottfried and Wes Moore, the friendship, respect, and support between the men’s and women’s teams and its head coaches have been steadfast.

NC State Director of Athletics Debbie Yow is a link between the men’s and women’s teams in more than one way. It is well-known that her sister is as iconic as the Belltower when it comes to basketball at Reynolds Coliseum, but since taking over in Raleigh, she hired both Gottfried and Moore to lead the two basketball programs.

When Kay Yow was coaching, her counterpart for much of her tenure was the equally famous and affable Valvano, who also served as her boss for three years as the school’s athletic director. The two icons shared a mutual respect for one another and both have a legacy that is revered to this day... locally and nationally.

For Debbie Yow, it was a special kinship that still stands out.

"My favorite picture of [Kay] is the one at Carter-Finley with Jim, both bundled up in winter coats at the field," Yow said. "They look so comfortable with each other and happy."

Moore was an assistant coach for Kay Yow from 1993-95. Last season, his first at NC State after 15 years in charge at UT-Chattanooga, he led the Wolfpack to its first NCAA Tournament bid in four years.

Ironically, Gottfried met Debbie Yow while he was a player and she was an assistant coach for the women’s basketball team when both were at Oral Roberts University. Gottfried and Yow struck up a trust and friendship that has endured. Her admiration of Moore dates back to his time at NC State working for her sister.

"They look so comfortable
with each other and happy."

She is thrilled to see the same camaraderie between the two basketball programs under her watch.

"It is gratifying to see the two basketball teams support each other by attending each other's games," Yow said. "It is the type of mutually supportive culture we want our student-athletes to have for each other."

This season is Moore’s 26th season as a head coach. The veteran is the only coach to take three different teams to the NCAA Tournament at each level. While he has seen much over the years, the support from the men’s team has left him both impressed and grateful.

For Moore, the highlight came when nine members of the men’s team traveled to Chapel Hill to watch the Pack take on rival North Carolina at Carmichael Arena in early-January.

"We have definitely noticed," Moore said of the men’s continued presence. "Nine of them were over in Chapel Hill and here at home games they make a point to shake your hand when they see you. That says a lot about Coach Gottfried, his staff, and the kind of people he has recruited. They are class acts."

"This program has got a lot of tradition thanks to Kay Yow," Moore added. "Obviously, I was with her a couple of years. To who much is given, much is expected. We are going to get there."

Gottfried is also happy to be a part of a family-type atmosphere within the basketball programs. The head coach, seeking his fourth straight NCAA Tournament appearance in as many seasons at NC State, was particularly thrilled to see his players make the trip to Chapel Hill.

"I think we’ve got some guys that like to root for the women’s team and try to support our women’s team as much as they can," Gottfried said during a recent episode of his radio show. "It is not something that I asked them to do. They [went to Chapel Hill] on their own, and I thought it was very impressive of our group to make the trip over there."

With the student-athletes staying at the College Inn during the school year, there is bound to be plenty of interaction. Over the course of the season, members of both teams actively seek out and give advice in an effort to help each other as they would one of their own teammates."

"That is basically what NC State is about... the community supporting each other," NC State sophomore guard Miah Spencer said. "I know they come to our games and we go to their games and do anything we can to support one another. I feel like we are all very close."

Dominique Wilson transferred to NC State from Arkansas prior to last season and the redshirt sophomore has been a frequent visitor to PNC Arena. It did not take her long to embrace the culture among the basketball players.

"With the men’s basketball team, we support each other and we are really like a big family," Wilson said. "Back at the College Inn, we always try to help each other, tell each other what we did in the last game and what we need to do."

Kyle Washington has been to a majority of the women’s games this season and was among the men’s players who made the trip to Chapel Hill in January.

The sophomore confesses that he did not keep up with women’s basketball much prior to attending NC State but supporting Moore’s team has given him an appreciation of not only his program but also the basketball heritage at Reynolds Coliseum.

"This is the first [women’s team] I have ever followed," Washington admitted. "It has been exciting. Wes Moore is a great coach. They play to win and he coaches to win. [The players] talk and we hang out all the time. We share our experiences as college basketball players. All those girls are cool. It is fun to be around them.

I love being at Reynolds, and I love supporting the women’s team. Just seeing the history and see Kay Yow’s picture up there, it is fun to be around. Also, to see the women play hard. I love the way they play."

As the season enters the second week of February and the number of games remaining in the regular season wind down, the journey of both squads, and ultimate postseason destination, will be determined by the focus and determination shown during what is a pivotal upcoming stretch for both.

In Moore’s opinion, it only makes sense that they share in the experience, and he is happy that the affection basketball players at NC State show towards each other is genuine.

“They both go through this grind of being a Division 1 student-athlete at a high level,” he said. "For them to be able to share that... it is just really neat to see. I can’t say enough how much we appreciate them supporting us and Coach Gottfried bringing in that group of men to represent NC State.

"Our kids really like each other and appreciate each other."

Pack Pride Top Stories