Upgrade Underway

Matt Insell had already been on the job, but Friday he finally took the podium to speak to Rebel Nation.


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Insell, who's been a five-year assistant at Kentucky, says he is ready for the challenge of being a head coach in the Southeastern Conference. Ole Miss Athletics Director Ross Bjork gave him a Lady Rebel history lesson before turning things over to the new coach.

"Thirty winning seasons," said Bjork of the program which began in 1974. "17 NCAA Tournament appearances, 10 Sweet Sixteens, five Elite Eights. No Final Fours yet. Three Olympic team participants and three women's basketball hall of fame inductees. And the list goes on and on.

"So no pressure, Matt, as we introduce you today."

Insell took the podium not long after and introduced a long list of people with him, people that he knows that were in attendance, and handed out the usual "thank yous" at events like this.

Then he got even more serious. It was time to talk about his program, what he brings to it, and what his expectations are of it.

"I'm honored to be your new head women's basketball coach here at The University of Mississippi," Insell said. And I say THE University of Mississippi because this is THE Flagship University of this great state. I'm very humbled and honored."

Insell is just 30 years old. But don't use the word "just" when referring to his age. He set out as a teenager to be a head coach in the SEC by 30, and he made it.

"I've accomplished that goal, and I don't plan on leaving the SEC. I plan on being at Ole Miss a long time," Insell said.

He announced two new members of his staff. Todd Schaefer, who has been an assistant basketball coach most recently at Arkansas State and before that at Cincinnati, in his hometown. Prior to that, Schaefer was head coach at Arkansas Tech and before that head coach at Christian Brothers University in Memphis, Tenn.

And Alex Fuller, who Insell took from his father's staff at Middle Tennessee State. Insell's father, Rick, is head coach at MTSU. Fuller was a four-year player for Pat Summitt at Tennessee and on two national championship teams in 2007 and 2008.

It was mostly a pep rally/press conference combination, and most of the details of what Insell brings to Ole Miss were well documented earlier.

Insell spoke to the Rebel Nation Friday, more specifically the Lady Rebel Nation. He said he won't stop until Ole Miss is back on top.

"We have a lot of proud alumni, and I know this is a program you take a lot of pride in. I want you to know I take a lot of pride in this program. And I want you to know I want to bring this program back to where you had it. That's my goal, and that's a goal I will reach, just like I reached my goal of being a SEC had coach by age 30. I will reach that goal. And I look forward talking to all of you (former Lady Rebel players) and sharing with you my plan of how I plan on bringing this program back to where you want it, and that's at the top of the SEC.

"I will not sleep until we get it right," Insell continued. "And we're going to get it right here at Ole Miss. We're trying to upgrade it and bring it back. We're going to have a relentless work ethic every day."

Insell expanded his thoughts when answering each question posed by the media. But his initial response was direct and to the point.

On his plan for getting this program back to the top: "Recruiting."

On a timetable to win: "This team's going to win. We've got three seniors that want to win now. We're taking a win now approach. This is their last year. I'll work every day expecting to win now."

On following his dad as a coach: "I didn't have much choice. My dad's a coach. My brother's a coach. My grandmother's a coach. All of my friends are coaches."

On non-conference scheduling: "Our schedule is set for this year. My philosophy in scheduling is that if you want to beat the best, you have to play them. So we're going to play them. We'll bring in teams you fans want to see play here."

Bjork summed it all up in a nutshell.

"Matt Insell was born to coach basketball," Bjork said. "More importantly, he was born to coach women's basketball."

Now he is the head women's basketball coach at Ole Miss, and an upgrade of the program is already well underway.


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