TRANSCRIPT: Coach Yo talks Ole Miss’ game vs. South Carolina, looks ahead to matchup with A&M
OXFORD, Miss. — Ole Miss head coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin met with media Tuesday afternoon to talk about her team’s upcoming matchup against A&M and the recent loss to No. 1 South Carolina.
Here’s everything Coach Yo had to say.
Coach Yo: Big game ahead for us with A&M. The standings, the race is kind of really jumbled up. I told you all before I don’t know if anybody will be able to get separation. Maybe we could have had we pulled out the unimaginable against South Carolina to try to create some separation.
But, like I mentioned, the SEC is going to go all the way to the end as far as standings are concerned. And this is a big game for us. This is a big game for Texas A&M. And our focus can, luckily for us with one game this week, our focus can be solely on them and preparing for them. When I really think about it, and I can’t believe we have like, I think it’s, seven more games and then we’ll do three in a week. So we play this one and we have three next week. So it’s coming down to the end. So this is the fun time and luckily we get to play this game at home. And our focus is to protect home court.
Question: It was a three point game I think midway through the second quarter at South Carolina, I think is still single digits at halftime. What do you take out of the way you guys started that game, going forward?
Coach Yo: Well, I thought we had a great game plan. I thought we were prepared. But there are certain things we can’t control, and that’s the whistle. You know we can’t control that. And I’m not saying the whistle was bad or good, I’m just saying there were whistles. And so that affected us. And South Carolina is just really strong with their depth. You know, they’re like a tsunami wave. They just keep coming.
But like you said, I thought there were some good things that came out like our freshmen got some playing time in an environment like that that you can’t recreate. Even if we sell out, it won’t be as many people that we played in front of that were there. And, it gave us more like a tournament feel…SEC tournament, NCAA tournament, going to Sweet 16, that type of feel. So at least a lot of our players will be able to say they’ve played in an environment like that.
Question: You were asked, or you mentioned it in the post game, but turnovers have kind of become an issue. From the coach’s perspective, what have you seen maybe that has been the cause of that to kind of snowball in those games?
Coach Yo: Well again, just trying to figure out and getting comfortable with not having that floor general out there, that makes a difference. But a lot of our turnovers have been like moving screens, travels, you know, stuff that just shows that our players are rushing. And then we play Tennessee and we have seven.
So for us it’s about playing at our pace, not being sped up, not trying to move too quick. And for me, my focus is on making sure we don’t give up live-ball turnovers because I think it’s very hard to score on us in a half court. But if we give you a fast break layup, there’s not much we could do. So, turnovers will happen in the game. Our focus will be making sure it’s not live-ball turnovers.
Question: When players are rushing, what are some of the things that cause that?
Coach Yo: Sometimes the environment, sometimes having a 6-foot-6 girl sitting in the paint and you’re trying to avoid her, and sometimes just a lack of focus because we’re working on skill development. We’re in the gym with them, they know what they need to do. It’s just a bunch of different things going. And sometimes it’s just trying to make a play. I can live with those. I can live with trying to make a play and you overthrow it or whatever the case may be.
I just want to go on record that every time we have a bunch of turnovers, as a staff we find four that are not really turnovers. So in our mind, we’re not really turning it over as much as it seems. It was just called that, so we have to live with that. But no, on a serious note, it’s just us being sure about what we want to do and continuing to work on being connected. So it’s moving screens…We’re coming to set the screen, but we didn’t wait on the screen or we didn’t set the screen up, so my post player leaned some. And that is stuff that we can avoid. So we’re going to just focus on that.
Question: How is Texas A&M going to challenge you?
Coach Yo: Texas A&M is just a scrappy team. Coach Joni (Taylor) does a good job with them. They’re going to play hard. They have a tremendous amount of talent. They did a good job in the portal, getting a lot of kids that can impact the game. She’s known for her defense as well, but has some people that can score on the offensive end, and we’re going to have to put 40 minutes together. I don’t expect them to quit, whether they’re up or down. I expect it to be a dogfight on Thursday.
Question: Kharyssa (Richardson) was in here earlier, and it seems like her improved defense has allowed her to get on the floor a little bit more. Just how have you seen her grow? And how much more do you trust her now than you did at the start of the year?
Coach Yo: Anytime you come into our system, it takes about a year to figure out our defensive system. Kharyssa has focused on being better, but I’m still challenging her on that end. Like we want to push her because we love having her on the floor on the offensive end. But on the defensive end, sometimes it has been in the negatives. So if we can get her to just continue to work hard at it, we, our team, the rest of our team, is experienced enough to cover for her, but she has to like not reach and try to go for a steal. And these are habits that she’s developed at her previous school because that’s just how they played. Not that it was wrong or right, it’s just different. And so I’m glad that she mentioned that because she has to continue to bring it for us on the defensive end and the rebounding end for us to be successful like we want to be, which is having her on the floor.
Celebrating Girls and Women in Sports Day on Thursday (Feb. 8), the Rebels return to the SJB Pavilion to host Texas A&M. Ole Miss faces off against the Aggies at 6:30 p.m. CT, streaming on SEC Network +.
Evelyn has covered sports for over two decades, beginning her journalism career as a sports writer for a newspaper in Austin, Texas. She attended Texas A&M and majored in English. Evelyn’s love for Ole Miss began when her daughter Katie attended the university on a volleyball scholarship. Evelyn created the Rebel Walk in 2013 and has served as publisher and managing editor since its inception.