With Southeastern Conference play approaching, it’s all about progression with Ole Miss Women’s Basketball head coach Matt Insell. And after the Rebels routed Arkansas-Pine Bluff, 80-45, in their last game, Insell likes the direction in which his team is headed.
Ole Miss defense shines in win over UAPM
Following the big home win over the Lady Lions, Insell described his team as being very athletic, energetic, and full of enthusiasm. He then raved about how great Ole Miss played defensively, limiting UAPB to four second-chance points and two 3-pointers. The Rebels were also able to force the Lady Lions to commit 23 turnovers, and Ole Miss took advantage of all the loose basketballs, turning them into 35 points.
The Rebels (5-3) forced UAPB to become a one-dimensional team, forcing the Lady Lions’ leading scorer, Niya Head, to try and carry her team to victory. The team’s second leading scorer, Destiny Brewton, was held to a nine-point scoring effort on 3-for-9 shooting, under her 10.3 points per game season average.
Head led the way for UAPB with 16 points, but Ole Miss made it difficult for her to get comfortable offensively, sending double teams her way each time she was pulling the ball up to the half-court line. The Rebels’ defense was near perfection, committing only 11 fouls.
And Insell was happy with that.
“That may be my career-low as a coach; I teach to foul,” Insell said in a joking manner.
Head Coach Matt Insell
“You don’t have to block shots, who cares? The blocked shot, everyone wants to put it on SportsCenter saying ‘he blocked the shot.’ Who cares? You don’t get two points for it. Build a wall and make someone score over you,” Insell added.
Rebels making great strides on defense
Since suffering losses to Louisiana-Lafayette, Missouri State and Middle Tennessee State, Insell has seen tremendous improvements on the defensive side as Ole Miss has held each of its past four opponents to an average of 51 points. And the third-year head coach out of Shelbyville, Tennessee needed to see what his team is made of defensively in order to implement the proper adjustments early on before the second half of the season kicks in.
The Rebels recorded 13 steals against the Lady Lions and are currently fourth in the SEC (12.4 spg). They are averaging 13.9 points per contest off of those steals.
“We are working on that and you’re starting to see it,” Insell said. “We have a ways to go. We are not close to what we need to be, but January 1st we will be there.”
Sugar Bowl and beginning of conference play
On the first weekend of the 2016 calendar year, Insell and his team will be focused on two things: The AllState Sugar Bowl between No. 12 Ole Miss and No. 16 Oklahoma State—and their own home conference opener against the Vanderbilt Commodores.
Insell is confident the beginning of SEC play could be one of the most exciting adventures for this year’s Ole Miss team.
“We will be watching the Sugar Bowl with a smile on our face in Oxford, because we are going to be ready to start SEC play on January 3.”
Feature image credit: Joshua McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics