New women's hoops assistant already at work

Marlene Stollings has spent the majority of her coaching life helping rebuild programs. Now, the newly hired Rebel assistant is looking forward to reloading one.

The Ohio native comes to Oxford from her most recent job as an assistant with St. Louis University of the Atlantic 10 Conference where she was instrumental in developing guard play for the Billikens. At Ole Miss, Stollings will also be in charge of the backcourt, as well as playing a vital role in scouting and recruiting.

Prior to her stop in St. Louis, the 1998 graduate of Ohio University (after transferring from Ohio State) developed her coaching experience by attempting to rejuvenate three different programs – Wright State, New Mexico State and Jacksonville.

The current switch to an established program coming off an Elite Eight run is a welcome change for Stollings.

"I am looking forward to this because the rebuilding process is very draining," Stollings said. "Doing that so many years in a row can definitely wear on you. It is refreshing and exciting to enter a program where we aren't rebuilding. I played at Ohio State, and we had talent and expectations, and it is the same here. It is fun to come into a situation where there are players to work with that have a lot of skill."

Stollings has had to move at a breakneck pace after being hired by first-year head coach Renee Ladner. Her official start date was July 23, but the assistant has yet to get settled. Recruiting is a year-around sport in itself, so Stollings hasn't spent much time relaxing.

"It has been kind of crazy the last couple weeks because there is so much going on. I came in during the hot season of recruiting. It is about the busiest time of the year to attempt to get acclimated. But things are starting to fall in place the last few days."

Stollings stopped at the AAU Nationals in Tennessee before even being settled in Oxford. This is evident by the pictures and decorative artifacts that are still lying about inside her office. While at the AAU event, Stollings checked the progress of girls that are on Ole Miss' hot list for the current signing period, along with finding prospects out of the underclassmen.

"We have a target list, but we also pick up new kids," Stollings explained. "We look at the regional teams first and foremost, so we will look at all the local states before we branch out and look at a team from California or somewhere like that."

The Rebels' recruiting area should expand thanks to the new acquisition. Stollings has spent a good deal of time in the Midwest, so Ole Miss can hopefully persuade some of those athletes.

"I am hoping, especially with my home state of Ohio, that we can get in on a few kids there. Certainly we will concentrate on the local kid first though. If it is the same ability, then the local kid is the one to concentrate on."

Most of Stollings' experience in recruiting has been in a larger city, but she is comfortable with Oxford and sees it as a unique attraction for prospective players.

"You can use it (a small town) to your advantage. We are the king and queen of the town if you will. There is complete name recognition, and you aren't fighting with professional sports teams. It makes for an extremely loyal fan base because you are the hot ticket in town. It is advantageous if marketed and presented correctly."

Along with recruiting, improving the Rebels' shooting will be a goal of Stollings. Last season, Ole Miss shot 41 percent from the floor, along with lackluster percentages of 26 and 63 from the three-point and free throw lines respectively.

Stollings can teach from experience as the former Miss Ohio basketball holds the Ohio state record for points in a career with more than 3,500. She was a Kodak All-American her final year of prep basketball and still holds more than 30 OHSAA records.

In college, Stollings was a MAC first team selection after leading the conference with 22.9 ppg. She also holds the Bobcat records for three-pointers (10) and points (41) in a game.

Stollings has talked with Ladner about upping Ole Miss' shooting numbers and thinks that it isn't just one thing keeping the Rebels from excelling in that area.

"It's two-fold. It is skill related, but I think a lot of it is in their mind. Someone misses his or her first free throw and then the second. All of a sudden, players think they can't make one. It begins to affect mechanics. They have to have the correct technique or they are already starting behind. But with the right technique, confidence will come and improve overall shooting."

With Stollings' help, the Rebels have a chance to succeed again in 2007-2008. After all, she has a resume to believe in.

To rebuild, or in this case, to reload.

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