During former Head Coach Van Chancellor's tenure at Ole Miss, the Lady Rebels were a perennial NCAA tournament team, missing the tourney only twice between 1982 and his departure in 1997. After the 1996-97 season, Chancellor joined the fledgling WNBA as coach and general manager of the Houston Comets. Under Chancellor, the Comets have been a spectacular success, winning the first four WNBA championships before being hampered by injuries this year. Ole Miss, on the other hand, hasn't been so fortunate. In Head Coach Ron Aldy's first year, the Lady Rebels finished 8th in the SEC, and since then haven't managed to finish higher than 10th. Last season, Ole Miss finished the SEC in a tie for 10th place with in-state rival Mississippi State and lost in the first round of the WNIT to Western Kentucky.
Players Returning: Ole Miss loses one starter, guard Becky Myatt (11.7 ppg, .348 3pt%). Returning starters are 5'6 senior point guard Shereka Wright (8.9 ppg, 3.7 apg), 6'3 senior center Saundra Jackson (6.8 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 20.8 mpg), 5'10 senior swing forward Von Kirk (10.5 ppg, 3.9 rpg, .355 3pt%), and 6'1 sophomor forward Tywanna Inmon (9.5 ppg, 5.4 rpg). Returning forward reserves include TaShondrea Moton (21.1 mpg, 4.4 ppg), Tenisha Gist (10.3 mpg, 3.7 ppg) and Kayla Madewell (10.3 mpg, 4.0 ppg). Key reserve guards is senior Takela Corbitt (10.7 mpg, 2.4 ppg). During the Lady Rebels' tour of Western Canada following last season, Wright averaged closed to 20 points per game, with Kirk and Jackson not far behind.
Incoming Players: Coach Aldy's incoming class includes 3 freshmen and 2 junior college transfers. The transfers are 6'2 forward Candice Holley, who earned Conference USA All-Conference freshman honors while at Cincinnati before transferring to Southwest Tennessee State Community College last year, and 5'7 point guard Catesha Riley, who was named to the 2000 NJCAA All-Tournament team. The freshmen are 5'4 point guard Carletta Brown (25.2 ppg, 5.6 apg, 5.3 spg), 6'3 forward/center Amber Watts (19 ppg, 11 rbg), Nevada's Gatorade Player of the Year 5'8 shooting guard Elizabeth Cansdale (20.6 ppg, 8.9 rpg, .55fg%).
Outlook: Despite their low finish in the SEC, last year's Lady Rebels were a very physical, scrappy team. Last year's JC transfers -- Shereka Wright and Saundra Jackson -- will have another year's experience under their belt. A big question will fill the gap left at shooting guard by the departure of Becky Myatt. If the Lady Rebels can answer that question -- perhaps by shifting one of their small fowards to the position -- then Ole Miss will show some improvement this year. But climbing beyond the middle of the SEC and making the NCAA tournament look a long shot. A more likely likely scenario puts them in the bottom half of the SEC with a return trip to the WNIT