W. Hoops Gets Moore at Point Guard

There are 10,086 people in the Thompson-Boling Arena. Louisiana Tech is playing Tennessee in the State Farm Classic and ESPN is televising the game. The date is Nov. 14, 1999, and it’s Bev Moore’s first game.

Moore is a freshman point guard, not expecting any time on the floor but still relishing in the excitement and the atmosphere. But with a minute and a half left in the first half, the starting point guard, Tamicha Jackson, picks up her third foul.

Louisiana Tech coach Leon Barmore comes over to the bench and says, “Beverly, are you ready?”

Moore’s eyes grew big and she responds, “Yes, sir.”

The Hype

“Here was this little freshman on the bench…I reached out and grabbed Beverly and put her in that game and I know her heart must have jumped slam out of her jersey,” Barmore said of Moore’s first game. “She was always going to be ready, but I don’t think she was expecting it right then.”

Moore only played out the half—but the player she was defending didn’t score on her, and she even managed to dish out an assist. Her dream of playing for the Lady Techsters had been realized.

Flash forward three years and the 5’1 point guard is still on the court, only it’s Lavietes Pavilion and the attendance is 523. Though few in numbers, the fans are loud and fired up, as the Harvard women’s basketball team pummels Princeton. The scene could not be more different from where Moore began her college career, but the thrill that accompanies the game remains.

“At first, it was kind of hard because you’re used to all that hype,” Moore said. “But it’s so much of a different kind of excitement. I would much rather be in our arena when it’s a packed house on an Ivy League night.”

The Tigers are no match for Moore’s quick hands, and she is running the floor. Moore finishes the game with career-highs in points (16) and steals (5).

“I still feel an equal amount of excitement as I did at Tech, partly just because I’m actually out there [and] getting to play,” Moore said.

No Games For You

This season is Moore’s first playing for the Crimson, as she had to sit out last year due to the NCAA Transfer Rule. After a year of rigorous practice but no games, Moore’s first performances in a Harvard uniform were marked with ball-handling problems that Harvard coach Kathy Delaney-Smith and Moore attribute to adjustment and low confidence.

“Basically what I ask from any point guard is leadership and poise on the floor,” Delany-Smith said. “I think when she started the season, she probably fell into the trying-too-hard category.”

Constant encouragement to shoot brought Moore back into the starting lineup, where she has cruised into the Crimson offensive schemes. Moore’s year off gave her the time she needed to adjust to Harvard’s style.

“It wasn’t as much of a set offense; it was just like run and go,” Moore said. “Coming here, we have a lot of offenses and we focus a lot on being patient.”

“This year, we’ve actually focused more on running, getting more of a fast-break game going, which I like,” Moore added. “It’s my favorite part of the game.”

In particular, playing against former Crimson point guard Jenn Monti ’02 taught Moore, as the pair formed a reciprocating matchup. For Moore, Monti helped her transition to Harvard’s game while also setting an example as a leader.

“Last year, I think Jenn Monti was the ultimate leader, in the games, in practice, off the court,” Moore said. “She definitely left some big shoes to fill. At the beginning of this year, I was a little timid of stepping in and taking on that leadership role.”

While her time off was beneficial in terms of adjustment, both athletically and academically, it was also trying for a player so passionate about her sport.

“It was particularly difficult for Bev because one of the reasons she transferred here is that she absolutely loves the game,” Delaney-Smith said.

Yes, I am Playing

Moore started playing at the recreational center of her parents’ alma mater, Northeast Louisiana, in junior high. However, her competition wasn’t exactly even, as the only people to play with were college-aged boys.

“It was funny because I would walk in and all the guys would be like, ‘You’re not for real, wanting to play in our pick-up game,’” Moore said. “It was kind of fun to get out there and be able to prove myself and walk in and be like, ‘Yes, I am playing.’”

Early on, Moore gained the notice of Barmore, the legendary coach who built the Techsters’ program over the last 25 years and retired only last August. His all-time winning percentage of 86.9 percent ranks first among men’s or women’s collegiate coaches.

“She’s certainly one of my all-time favorite players,” Barmore said. “I’ve been in the business for a long time, and I’ve never recruited anyone that loved the game when she was growing up like that. Beverly was one of the players that captured my heart very early.”

Moore caught Barmore’s eye before she even hit junior high, when she attended camp at Louisiana Tech, near her home town of Monroe, La. Already a standout, the fifth-grader was allowed to play on the eighth grade team.

At St. Frederick, Moore found herself a starting spot her freshman year of high school and never relinquished it. Though a private school, the team also played public schools and wound up in the state quarter finals during Moore’s sophomore and senior years. St. Frederick’s has again gained the attention of Division I recruiters against recently, as 6’3 post player Mary Abell is an up-and-coming prospect.

“Especially since I’ve been at college, I’ve seen girls’ basketball just skyrocket in my town,” Moore said. “We didn’t have an AAU summer league in our town when I first stared playing AAU. My parents and some other parents started the first AAU team in our town. Now there’s been lots of AAU teams, started at younger ages, and girls’ basketball has really taken off.”

Throughout high school, AAU games and camp at LaTech, Barmore followed Moore’s game. During May of her junior year, he offered her a scholarship, and she verbally accepted.

“I always dreamed of playing for the Techsters,” Moore said. “From going to camp every summer and going to every game, I loved everything about the program.”

But Moore’s love for Louisiana Tech did not translate into playing time for the rookie on a team of WNBA prospects. Though her career for the Lady Techsters began with promise, Moore spent very little time on the floor, though the way she conducted herself impressed Barmore.

“A lot of times, players that don’t play a lot of minutes think they don’t contribute,” Barmore said. “That’s totally the opposite of Beverly’s case. Something about her, she was a Lady Techster through and through.”

Though Moore suffered in playing time, she was still a member of an elite team that dominated despite youth during her freshman season. During Moore’s freshman and sophomore seasons, Louisiana Tech was underrated during preseason and advanced to the fourth round of NCAAs both years. The Lady Techsters fell to Penn State in the Midwest regional final in 2000 and to UConn in 2001. All the while, Moore got into 24 games, while averaging 1.2 points per game and 0.5 rpg.

“I loved basketball so much and I just realized that growing up, all the time, all the effort that I put into playing was all so that I could reach my goal of playing college basketball and making a difference on a team,” Moore said. “I felt some of that at Tech, but I really wasn’t feeling the whole thing.”

“When I graduate, I don’t want to look back and have any regrets about not doing as much as I could have,” she added. “I knew that not playing wasn’t an option.”

So Moore began exploring other options after discussing the situation and gaining the support of her family and Barmore. After calling coaches and sending tapes—and Barmore sending his recommendation—Moore settled on a short list of Duke, North Carolina, Wake Forest, Yale and Harvard.

After a visit to Yale, Moore was ready to make the move to New Haven but forced herself to take a look at Cambridge, too.

“I just came here and loved it,” Moore said. “I think what sold me the most was the coaches were great, the players were great, and the town. There’s so much to do, which was so different from where I was at because, at Louisiana Tech, there’s not much there.”

“I think she made a very good decision,” Barmore said. “I think she made one based on academics first, and sports second. And when the two fell into place for her, thank goodness, it was the best of both worlds.”

A Southerner in Beantown

Bev Moore feels like she’s wearing too many layers when she talks to her friends from home and hears that they’re wearing bikinis in March. However, the weather came with the town.

“It’s definitely been somewhat of a culture shock,” Moore said. “My friends are telling me that I’ve lost my Southern accent, but I hope not.”

She hasn’t lost the accent or the vitality that made her a popular player and student at LaTech. She has, however, adjusted back to dining halls and dorms after living off-campus during her second year of college.

An Economics concentrator, Moore is also an enthusiastic Republican. After working for Louisiana Congressman John Cooksey for two summers as an intern at the Capitol, Moore was hooked.

“The Republican Club was actually something that I wanted to get involved with here, but lack of free time got in the way,” Moore said.

“I make it a habit in my life—I’m a very staunch liberal democrat—not to get into discussions with conservative republicans because we never get anywhere,” Delaney-Smith laughed. “She loves to go hunting. What does that mean? We don’t associate that with one, a woman, two, someone her age. I tease her about the poor deer just trying to get home to the mother kind of thing. It’s wonderful, it represents what Harvard is.”

Now that Moore represents Harvard on the court, she can finally fulfill her drive for academics and basketball at the same place.

“There’s just not many people who have that passion for playing this game,” Barmore said. “I’ve only had two or three. I’ve had two or three that might have been playing more, but man, ain’t nobody been bigger at heart than that kid.”

—Staff writer Jessica T. Lee can be reached at lee45@fas.harvard.edu.