Exhibition Success

Five players scored in double figures in Ole Miss' 74-59 women's basketball exhibition victory against Christian Brothers (Memphis). Matt Insell said it's the defensive end that needs improvement.

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"I'm very happy with where we are offensively," said the Rebels' first-year head coach. "We're not there defensively. And we've got to get there defensively."

Insell also expressed concern with his team's foul situation in its first time in a game on a court in front of people. The Rebels fouled 32 times as the Buccaneers shot 40 free throws and made 25.

"We've got to be able to play harder defensively without fouling. And we fouled," he said. "We were hand-checking, and we haven't done that yet. We've had officials come in and ref us in practice. We've had officials come in with closed scrimmages, and we haven't fouled that much at all. It was a little bit of a shock to me that we were fouling this much."

And that keeps Insell's team from playing the way he wants it to play.

"You allow a team to shoot 40 free throws, that slows the game down," he said. "Our goal is to try to keep the (opposing) team to around 13-14 free throws. They had 40. That allows them to get rest going to the free throw line, and we're wanting to push back at them."

Valencia McFarland led Ole Miss in scoring with 15 points, followed by Tia Faleru with 13. Faleru also had 14 rebounds and was the only Rebel with double-digit boards.

Shequila Joseph had 12 points, Diara Moore 11, and Gracie Frizzell 10.

"I'm very excited about where we're headed as a team," said Faleru, a junior. "The key for me was I had Coach (Insell) in one ear, and I was also telling myself just to go and keep pushing. I did get a little tired, but my second wind came. Coach always tells me to push in practice, and so in the game it just came easy."

The Rebels led 40-23 at halftime, but by midway through the second half CBU had cut the lead down to six points at 50-44.

Valencia McFarland
Bruce Newman

"It all keys on point guard play," Insell said, evaluating what was happening at that point. "Valencia McFarland is an incredible player. But the big thing I'm telling her is she's got to be dependable. She's got to play every minute (she's on the court). I promised her she wouldn't have to play 40 minutes a game like she's played in the past. She played 31 minutes today, and in their run I think she got a little tired. She let up on pushing the ball back at them. She let her man get to the rim and score a couple of times."

Immediately after the victory, Insell said he talked to his veteran senior leader about that.

"That was a huge momentum buster for us," Insell said. "We got up and then let them right back in it. (McFarland) will get better from that. But the key to what we're doing is our point guard. When she started pushing it back at them, our momentum got going, and our tempo got going, and that's when we pushed it back out."

Insell has preached tempo since his arrival eight months ago. Fast tempo, that is. He wasn't completely pleased with that in the exhibition.

"We've got to keep that tempo at a high pace, and it was not as fast as I want it to be," he said. "That's something that disappoints me. It's not as fast as it has been in practice. We've got to be able to translate that from practice into the games."

All in all, Insell was pleased. But he said there's a lot to work on in the days ahead.

"Offensively it's promising. We can score," he said. "But as the competition gets better we've got to be able to stop people. And we're not where we need to be defensively. That's the point of emphasis the next few days in practice. But we'll get there defensively."

Ole Miss opens the regular season at 5 p.m. Friday against Jacksonville State at Tad Smith Coliseum.

The Ole Miss men's team will follow that night with a game against Troy in its season opener.

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