November 11, 2013 10:07:16 AM
Adam Minichino - firstname.lastname@example.org
OXFORD -- Matt Insell isn't going to let one game define the 2013-14 season or his program.
As disappointed as the first-year Ole Miss women's basketball head coach was Sunday following a 66-63 loss to Central Arkansas, Insell accepted the blame and vowed to return to work today with just as much energy in an effort to get the program on the right track.
"One game doesn't define a season," Insell said. "I said before the season started that we are going to win some we probably shouldn't win and we are going to lose some we probably should win. This is one we probably should've won. I feel like we were a better team, but they outplayed us and she (UCA head coach Sandra Rushing) outcoached me. I give her full credit for everything she did and their team. We will learn from this and get better."
UCA (2-0) switched from a player-to-player defense in the first half to a 2-3 zone in the second half. Rushing said she wanted to wait until halftime to make the change so Ole Miss (1-1) wouldn't get a chance to talk about the defense at the break. The move worked as the Sugar Bears erased a 37-27 deficit and held the Rebels to 23.8 percent (10 of 42) shooting from the field. Ole Miss was 4 of 15 from 3-point range in the second half despite having a height advantage.
"The zone, it bothered us. It bothered us a lot," Insell said. "Our kids kind of slowed up. I take responsibility on that. We have to work a little more on that in practice because teams are going to play us zone because we are athletic and we execute pretty well man to man. She did a great job adjusting at halftime because she needed to make that change.
"But we got to have better shot selections. We were rushed against the zone. A lot of it had to do because we slowed down and started trying to pass from point A to point B instead of being on the attack and being aggressive and getting in the paint and drawing help and now we are comfortable shooting jump shots."
Ole Miss still had chances late to steal the victory. A fall-back jumper in the lane by Courtney Duever (game-high 22 points, team-high 10 rebounds) gave UCA a 62-55 lead with 1 minute, 5 seconds remaining. Freshman Shequila Joseph (team-high 14 points) then hit two 3-pointers, the second with 23 seconds to go to trim the deficit to 64-63. Former Starkville Academy standout Maggie Proffitt (14 points, six rebounds) missed the front end of a one-and-one and then committed a foul with 15 seconds remaining to give the Rebels a chance. Claudia Ledesma Ortiz missed a 3-pointer from the wing with 10 seconds to play. Tia Faleru (10 points, 12 rebounds) rebounded the miss, but her putback was short. Duever rebounded the miss and hit two free throws with 1.4 seconds left. Senior guard Valencia McFarland (13 points, five assists) missed a heave fas time expired.
Insell said his players are learning his system and how hard they need to work in practice and in games. He said that process will continue throughout the season, and that he hopes the Rebels buy into a hard-nosed defensive style of play that he was a part of as an assistant coach at Kentucky.
"It is a mentality and it is a process," Insell said. "It is not something that happens overnight or happen in the first week or two in practice. Every day you're having to teach that mentality. It is the 'want-to' to want to do it. Everybody talks about it, but you have to want to do it. I am prepared every day. I am not giving it. This game is not going to define who we are as a team. Now we have to go win one we probably are not supposed to win to make up for this one. Could it be Friday? Could it be Sunday? Maybe it is in January. We have to continue to grow as a team defensively, and I take full responsibility for that because this is the culture we are setting in this program. If it costs us winning a game here and there, in the long run we are going to play hard-nosed man-to-man defense and we are going to get better and it is going to mean something to us to get stops. We are going to continue to work on that every day."
Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter @ctsportseditor.
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.