Carrie Moore’s career as Crimson basketball coach tipped off to a tremendous start in the 2022-23 season. In her first year at the head of the program, the former Western Michigan standout and retired professional basketball player led the team to a 9-5 Ivy League record and a deep run in the WNIT tournament — one that made program history.
“Unity, grit, integrity, and joy,” Moore said. “If you look back and you watch our games, [...] you’ll be able to witness a lot of unity, a lot of joy, you will have seen some really gritty moments and you’ll just really believe in the fact that we have a ton of integrity within our program.”
Moore and her staff settled on these four principles before the preseason began, and they carried the team through the trials and tribulations of the season.
“We definitely nailed those down into our culture,” senior co-captain Maggie McCarthy added.
Establishing this new culture was a top priority for the team. As the College’s first new coach in 40 years, the arrival of Moore and her staff offered an opportunity for a program-wide refresh, and as they set goals, they aimed high.
“That championship focus,” McCarthy said. “We always wanted to win games, but coming in from a coaching staff that expected you to give your all every time, [we began] realizing that it all comes down to little things, and that’s what wins championships.”
The Crimson did all the little things but ended up heartbreakingly short of an Ivy championship title.
After stunning Columbia with a 72-65 overtime win in the first round of Ivy tournament play, Harvard faltered in the final, ultimately falling to a fourth-quarter Princeton comeback, 48-54.
Despite the strength of the conference, only the champions landed a spot in March Madness, leaving the Crimson with a spot in the WNIT.
In that tournament, the team tore through Towson, the University of Massachusetts, and the University of Rhode Island before falling to conference foe Columbia in the Great Eight.
Though disappointing, these losses did not define the season. Persistence and resilience were far greater headlines. Young players stepped into big roles, and grit carried the group through tough stretches of injury.
In fact, “[injuries] benefitted us later in the year in the playoffs because we could play different lineups that we had to play with,” McCarthy said. Adversity forced “team growth and making up for some of the experience that we might have lacked in some areas towards the end of the year.”
Moore’s championship mindset and perfectionist drive trace to a growing love of the game and a personal understanding of the grind.
The Michigan native put together a remarkably impressive playing career. In her four years at Western Michigan University, the guard amassed a program record of 2,224 points. In her senior year, she even led the entire country in points-per-game, averaging 24.5.
A competitive dancer until discovering basketball midway through middle school, Moore remembers her quick progress and discovery of joy on the court.
Of her prowess, Moore said, “[It] totally took off and [I] started to fall in love with it more and more each day.”
Love and excellence brought Moore two WNBA contracts — Phoenix Mercury and Chicago Sky — then all the way to Poland for a one-year stint with the professional team KSSSE AZA PWSZ Gorzow Wielkopolski.
In time, she was subbed off to take a new spot on the sideline, adjusting to a coaching role that has taken her around the country. Since the end of her playing days, Moore has been a part of the programs at Princeton, Creighton, the University of North Carolina, and, until accepting the Harvard position, Michigan.
Each stop through her coaching career has reinforced her purpose and passion.
“You've just got to figure out how to get other girls to play at their best. That was something that I really wanted to master,” Moore said. “[To] give back to the game that gave me so much, [and to] inspire younger players the way that my coaches inspired me to be great.”
Moore is only the fourth women’s basketball coach in Harvard history, and her direct predecessor put together a tough act to follow. Kathy Delaney-Smith was the leader in Lavietes for forty years, compiling a conference record of 367-168, winning eleven league titles, and making six NCAA appearances.
Despite the fact that Delaney-Smith coached Harvard for more years than Moore has been alive, the newcomer already has the veteran beat in one category: since joining the Princeton staff in 2009, Moore has been a part of eight trips to the tournament.
Princeton, Creighton, UNC, and Michigan all made it to the big dance with her help. In 2022, Michigan took a No. 3 seed all the way to the Elite Eight.
In other words, Moore knows what it takes to be great. Her championship focus has already taken root, and she is confident that her crew can compete with the best. Securing an Ivy Championship and punching a ticket to March Madness are first up on the agenda.
“We’ve definitely got the pieces,” she said. “Learning how to win those [big] games — that takes time.”
“I think we are well on our way."
— Staff writer Molly R. Malague can be reached at email@example.com.