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Missed opportunities at the rim have not set well with Ole Miss Women’s head basketball coach Matt Insell, and he’s challenging his players to improve.
Insell has a very young team this season—no seniors and nine freshmen and sophomores—and the coach knows his team will improve. He continues to say, ‘we will get better; we will grow from this,’ and now he wants to see his team challenge itself further at practice, taking some of the drills more seriously than ever before.
Insell wants the Rebels to stop making things harder on themselves and make the easiest shot on the floor: a layup.
“We spend about 20 minutes a day on layups, because we miss so many of them,” Insell said. “And it’s a prime example of finding the rim with your eyes and going in to make a layup, instead of shooting a layup worrying about somebody blocking your shot.
“We settle for a lot of jump shots and a lot of that has to do with we really don’t have a go-to post player on the block. A lot of post players are step out players, like to play out on the perimeter.”
During Monday’s road game at No. 7 Mississippi State, Insell watched on, with his arms folded, biting his bottom lip and turning his head each time one of his players missed a layup. He kept calling timeouts each time the Bulldogs went on a scoring run. Yet, Ole Miss kept missing easy baskets in transition, which allowed MSU to spread its lead to double figures.
This isn’t the first time Insell has seen his young, athletic group unable to take advantage of easy offensive opportunities. In losses to Texas A&M and Florida—two of seven Southeastern Conference teams currently ranked in the Associated Press Top 25—the Rebels (9-9, 1-4 SEC) failed to convert on easy, uncontested baskets. And the 79-51 final score inside Humphrey Coliseum against the Bulldogs was not because of MSU’s dominance; it was because of Ole Miss’ offensive miscues.
The Rebels’ 16 turnovers turned into 27 points for the Bulldogs who, unlike Ole Miss, took advantage of the offensive opportunities that were in front of them. MSU went 18 for 24 from the free throw line and had 18 assists on 28 made baskets.
The Rebels made 19 of 56 from the field.
Insell wants to see the mistakes come to a screeching halt:
“I don’t like going through inconsistency with young players. Have some consistency every day when you come to practice and if you do that, you have a great chance of being successful,” Insell added.
Ole Miss isn’t done facing a gauntlet of top 25 teams in their conference as the Rebels will welcome the ninth-ranked Wildcats into The Pavilion on Thursday night (8 p.m. CT, SEC). Kentucky (14-2, 3-2) has won eight of its last 10 games and is coming off a 54-47 home win over Auburn on Sunday.
The Wildcats are led by guards Makayla Epps and Janee Thompson and forward Evelyn Akhator. Epps is leading the team in scoring, averaging 15.9 points per game. Thompson and Akhator aren’t too far behind Epps, averaging 12.5 and 12.1 points per game, respectively.
Kentucky is averaging 75.6 points per game, which ranks fourth in the SEC.
“This is just a wonderful schedule we have,” said Insell of the six-game stretch of playing top 25 opponents.