The Rebels Will Play The Lady Bulldogs Thursday At 6 p.m. CT
Renee Ladner enters her fifth season as head coach at Ole Miss in 2011-12. Ladner is in her ninth season overall with the Rebels, serving as an assistant coach from 2003-07.
Ladner was named the sixth head coach in Ole Miss history on April 26, 2007. Known for her extraordinary motivational skills as well as her ability to develop highly skilled basketball players, Ladner has enjoyed a smooth transition in leading the Rebels amongst the top programs in the Southeastern Conference.
During her time at Ole Miss as both a head coach and assistant coach, Ladner has been a part of six teams that have advanced to postseason play inculding three NCAA appearances and three WNIT appearances. Entering the 2011-12 season, Ladner has a 58-65 overall record as a head coach and is 21-39 in SEC play.
In 2010-11, with a young squad as nine of the 13 players on the roster were underclassmen including five true freshmen, Ladner led Ole Miss to impressive wins away from Oxford against No. 23 Arkansas, Gonzaga, Illinois and Florida and a home win over Vanderbilt.
During the year, senior Kayla Melson and freshman Valencia McFarland each earned postseason honors from the SEC. Melson was named to the All-SEC Second Team, while McFarland was named to the SEC All-Freshman Team. Melson was also a finalist for the C Spire Gillom Trophy presented annually to the top female basketball player in the state of Mississippi. In addition, Melson and McFarland ended the year ranked in the top-10 in the SEC in several categories including scoring, minutes played and assists.
Ladner helped Ole Miss put together another strong season in 2009-10 on her way to leading the Rebels to the postseason for the sixth time in the last seven years. The year also marked the seventh consecutive time Ole Miss reached at least the second round of the SEC Tournament.
Ole Miss opened conference play on fire by winning five of its first six league games, which included an 80-71 win over No. 12 LSU and a 66-58 victory over in-state rival Mississippi State. Ladner also guided Ole Miss to a thrilling 66-65 win over No. 10 Georgia in Athens to give the Rebels their first ever win inside the Lady Bulldogs' Stegeman Coliseum.
The Rebels continued their success against the Lady Tigers later in the season as Ole Miss knocked off No. 19 LSU 102-101 in triple overtime to give Ole Miss its first win in Baton Rouge since 1994 and first season sweep of the Lady Tigers since 1985.
Under Ladner's tutelage, Rebel guard Bianca Thomas became an All-SEC first team selection for the second straight year. Ladner has had at least one All-SEC pick in each of her four seasons as head coach.
Thomas finished the season first in the SEC and 10th in the nation with 20.9 points per game to become the first Rebel to lead the conference in scoring since Jennifer Gillom in 1986. Thomas finished her career at Ole Miss sixth all-time in scoring with 1,511 points.
Ladner also helped Thomas finish the season 10th in the NCAA with 3.1 three-pointers per game and set a new single-season school record with 100 treys. Thomas ended her career second on the Ole Miss all-time list with 226 three-pointers.
Thomas became the sixth player coached by Ladner to be selected in the WNBA Draft when she went 12th overall to the Los Angeles Sparks in 2010.
Melson also flourished under Ladner in 2009-10 and finished the season first in the SEC and 10th in the NCAA with 5.9 assists per game. Melson put together four games of at least 10 assists and turned in just the third triple-double in school history when she finished with 11 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists in the season opener.
Melson also developed into one of the league's top scoring threats and ended the year 19th in the SEC with 12.2 points per game and featured a three-game stretch in which she scored 20 points. Melson more than doubled her scoring output from her sophomore year when she tallied 5.7 points per game.
In just her second season since being promoted from her previous position as an assistant coach, Ladner guided Ole Miss to an 18-15 overall record and produced one of the top turnarounds in the country by leading Ole Miss to five more wins than in her first season as head coach.
Ole Miss opened the 2008-09 season with six straight victories to set a school record for the most wins in the month of November. The Rebels went on to finish 12-5 in non-conference play, which included wins over NCAA Tournament teams North Carolina A&T and UCF.
Ladner and the Rebels began conference play with an eight-point victory over Georgia to help Ole Miss snap a four-game losing streak to the Lady Bulldogs. She came just seconds from leading Ole Miss to its first win over Tennessee since 1996, but a last second three-pointer by the Lady Vols spoiled the Rebels' upset attempt. Ladner, however, notched one of her biggest victories since becoming head coach of Ole Miss by defeating No. 18 and SEC Tournament champion Vanderbilt 71-69 to knock the Commodores out of the SEC regular season title race.
At the conclusion of the season, the Rebels earned a berth in the WNIT and a first-round bye. Ole Miss opened the tournament by routing Murray State 87-49 to help Ladner notch her first postseason victory as a head coach. The Rebels went on to reach the third round of the WNIT before falling on the road to eventual tournament champion USF.
In her first season as a head coach, Ladner registered her first career win in the second game of the season as the Rebels defeated Louisiana-Lafayette 86-60. Following that victory over the Ragin' Cajuns, Ole Miss would go on to post an impressive 10-3 record inside Tad Smith Coliseum. Along the way, the Rebels upended No. 20 Arkansas 63-55 to give Ladner her first career victory over a nationally-ranked team.
Ladner played an instrumental role in helping develop Shawn Goff into one of the top post players in the conference. Goff finished the season ranked 12th in the league in scoring with 13.0 points per game and 13th in rebounding after collecting 6.8 boards per game.
Goff was also a force on the defensive end to go along with her offensive skill set. She ranked second in the SEC and 23rd in the nation with 2.33 blocked shots per game and set the single season school record for rejections with 67 on her way to an All-SEC second team selection.
Ladner, a 1981 graduate of Ole Miss, came back to Oxford eight years ago, along with her former Rebel teammate Carol Ross, with the goal of restoring the tradition to a once dominant Ole Miss women's basketball program. The duo combined with another fellow Rebel teammate in Peggie Gillom-Granderson and a Ross pupil from her days at Auburn, Jocelyn McGilberry, to form one of the top coaching staffs in the nation.
Since returning to Ole Miss, Ladner and company have taken a downtrodden team and turned it into a contender. The Rebels have made three trips to the NCAA Tournament and three trips to the WNIT, after missing the `Big Dance' for eight straight years. Ole Miss advanced to the Elite Eight for the fifth time in school history during the 2007 NCAA Tournament, but made just its first trip since 1992.
Under the Ross assembled staff, the Rebels knocked off four Top-10 opponents during the 2006-07 season, including Southeastern Conference opponents LSU and Vanderbilt, along with defending national champion Maryland and Big 12 Conference champion Oklahoma in consecutive NCAA Tournament games.
Ladner was named assistant women's basketball coach at Ole Miss on March 31, 2003 after gaining experience on both the collegiate and high school levels. She spent her four seasons as an assistant coach working primarily with the Rebel guards.
Among the players Ladner worked directly with was three-time All-SEC performer Armintie Price, who is just the second player in the history of the NCAA to finish her career with over 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds, 400 steals and 400 assists. Price, who earned Kodak/WBCA All-America honors during the 2006-07 season, is the only two-time winner of the SEC's Defensive Player of the Year award, claiming the award as a senior in 2006-07 after leading the NCAA in steals.
Price became just the second player in Ole Miss women's basketball history to be selected in the WNBA Draft as she was taken with the third overall pick by the Chicago Sky in the 2007 WNBA Draft.
In addition to working with Price, Ladner was also instrumental in the development of several other Ole Miss guards, including 2006-07 senior Ashley Awkward. Awkward, who has spent time with two different WNBA franchise's, improved her game each year at Ole Miss, culminating in her senior season where she ranked second on the team, behind Price, in scoring, assists and steals. Awkward joined Price on the Dayton Regional All-Tournament team after helping guide the Rebels to the Elite Eight of the 2007 NCAA Tournament.
With Ladner helping lead the way, the Rebels finished the 2006-07 season with a 24-11 overall mark, garnering the most wins in a season since the 1993-94 squad posted a 24-9 mark. The 2006-07 Ole Miss team finished the season ranked third in the nation in steals per game at 13.3 and sixth in the NCAA in scoring with 77.7 points per game.
In addition to the work Ladner has done on the court with the Rebels, she has spent many hours working diligently off of it. A tireless recruiter, Ladner has helped attract some of the top players in the nation to Ole Miss. She has also served a great role in scouting, as well as monitoring the academic progress of the Rebel players. Ladner has also served as the camp director for the Rebel Basketball Camps the last six summers.
Prior to her stint in Oxford, Ladner spent two seasons (2000-01, 2001-02) as an assistant coach under Ross at the University of Florida, helping guide the Lady Gators to a 42-17 overall record, including a 19-9 SEC mark and two NCAA appearances. While at Florida, Ladner was in charge of coaching the point guards, in addition to serving as Florida's defensive coordinator. She directed all Lady Gator summer camps and coaching clinics, and she was also a liaison with the strength and conditioning staff and was responsible for the development of the practice squad.
During her two seasons in Gainesville, Ladner played an instrumental role in the development of guard Brandi McCain, who was a finalist for the Naismith Female College Player of the Year in both 2001 and 2002. In addition, McCain was a WBCA All-American Honorable Mention and was named All-SEC in both seasons under Ladner's direction.
McCain, one of the all-time greats in Florida women's basketball history, currently ranks among the top ten all-time at Florida in several offensive categories. She currently stands seventh all-time at UF with 1,580 career points and 10th all-time in scoring average with 14.9 points per game.
McCain was also one of the top shooters in the SEC as well during her time under Ladner's tutelage. In fact, McCain ranks second all-time at Florida with 230 career three-pointers. She is also sixth all-time with a 32.4 career mark from beyond the arc. Not only was McCain a scoring threat, but she was also one of the top distributors in the conference. She finished her career at Florida with 568 assists and ranks second on the school's all-time list.
Ladner brought 18 years of experience to Florida. During the 1999-2000 season, she coached St. John (Gulfport, Miss.) High School to the Class 2A state championship, collecting the honor of Girls Basketball Coach of the Year from the Mississippi Association of Coaches. At St. John, Ladner also was responsible for the development of the health and physical education curriculum.
Ladner compiled a 10-year coaching record of 215-99 with the Lady Eagles, including a 181-31 ledger in her last six seasons. St. John won the District 8/2A title in each of her last five years, reaching the "Final Four" of the state tournament in three of her last four seasons. She took the Lady Eagles from a 2-20 record her first season to its 35-3 record in 2000.
Prior to her tenure at St. John, Ladner was an instructor and coach for three years at Harrison Central Ninth Grade School in Gulfport where she taught physical education and coached the girls and boys basketball teams and the track team.
She started her professional career as the science and physical education instructor for North Gulfport's seventh and eighth grades, in addition to coaching the girls basketball team from 1981-87.
Ladner earned her bachelor's degree in Health, Physical Education and Recreation in 1981 from Ole Miss. While at Ole Miss, Ladner played basketball with Ross and former Rebel associate head coach Peggie Gillom-Granderson.
She later served as a student assistant for the team, coached by Van Chancellor. Ladner then became a sixth-round draft pick by the Women's Professional Basketball League's St. Louis Streaks.
Ladner is married to Eddie Ladner, a retired teacher and coach. She has two daughters, Allison (28) and Jennifer (24). Allison is a 2005 Ole Miss graduate and earned a bachelor of science in family and consumer science with an emphasis in hospitality management, while Jennifer graduated from Ole Miss in 2008 and also earned a bachelor of science in family and consumer science with an emphasis in hospitality management. Both have served as student managers for the Rebel basketball team.