Ole Miss head coach Matt Insell took the Ole Miss women’s basketball team to new heights in 2014-15 in his second year at the helm of the program. The Rebels posted 19 wins and seven SEC wins – recording the most wins since the 2009-10 season, while also making their return to the postseason with an appearance in the third round Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT).
The Rebels, who posted seven more wins in 2014-15, posted four wins over NCAA Tournament participants and after being picked to finish last in the SEC preseason coaches and media poll closed the season tied for the No. 7 in the league standings and earned the No. 8 seed for the SEC Tournament – the highest seed for the Rebels in the last five seasons.
Leading a young team, that featured eight newcomers, Insell was able to develop his youngsters throughout the season. Freshman A’Queen Hayes took over the starting point guard position midway through the season and excelled, earning her SEC Freshman of the Week honors on January 12 and a spot on the All-Freshman team. Senior forward Tia Faleru picked up where she left off during her junior campaign and became the first SEC player to average a double-double since Georgia’s Porsha Phillips in 2010-11 and she became the first player to lead the league in rebounding in back-to-back seasons since LSU’s Sylvia Fowles led the league from 2006-08. For her efforts Faleru was an All-SEC first team selection and the only unanimous selection on the Associated Press’ All-SEC first team. She also earned honorable mention AP All-American accolades and was a College Sports Madness fourth team All-American.
Insell and the Rebels knocked off ranked foes in No. 13 Kentucky and No. 18 Georgia – the first time in five years Ole Miss had defeated a ranked foe. The season also saw Ole Miss pick up its 400th win at Tad Smith Coliseum and Insell and his father made women’s basketball history by becoming the first father-son duo to play against each other in NCAA women’s basketball when Middle Tennessee made the trip to Oxford in November.
In his first season as head coach at Ole Miss, Insell laid the foundation for a promising future. Beginning his career with the Rebels, Insell led Ole Miss to a 10-6 non-conference record, including a seven-game win streak - the longest win streak for the Rebels since the 2007-08 season. Ole Miss' non-conference schedule was highlighted by a matchup in Waco, Texas, where the Rebels took on the Baylor Bears, who had reached the Sweet Sixteen a year before. With Ole Miss leading in the final minutes, Baylor battled back to spoil the upset, giving fans a glimpse of the success to come under the vision of Insell.
After battling through the always challenging SEC schedule, the Rebels entered the SEC Tournament at the No. 14 seed, determined to take the momentum from a regular season finale victory over Auburn into the postseason tournament. Drawing the No. 11 seed Arkansas, the Rebels took care of business with a 63-62 victory, giving Ole Miss a statement win for Insell's process. "I didn't look at it as rebuilding, I looked at it as a process of getting us back to the top," said Insell after the SEC Tournament win. "A win like this helps you get there."
Insell also led the Rebels to wins over instate rival, Mississippi State to give the first-year head coach his first SEC victory. In addition to the Rebel's battle with 2014 Elite Eight participant, Baylor, Ole Miss posted victories against women's basketball powerhouse, Louisiana Tech and sent the Ole Miss senior class out in style with a Senior Day overtime win over Auburn at Tad Smith Coliseum.
Insell Milestone Wins: First career win - Jacksonville State, 83-62 (Nov., 8, 2013) First SEC Win - Mississippi State, 87-85 (Jan. 23, 2014) First SEC Tournament Win - Arkansas, 63-62 (March 5, 2014) First Postseason Victory (WNIT) - UT Martin, 80-70 (March 18, 2015)
What They Are Saying About Matt Insell: "I am elated for Matt. He made the decision when he graduated high school to forgo playing collegiate basketball and concentrate on becoming a Division I head coach. I am very excited about the journey he has made. I don't know of a better place to build his legacy than the University of Mississippi. Matt is a fantastic fit for the program. Deb and I, along with our entire family, are very proud of him."
- Rick Insell, Head Women's Basketball Coach, Middle Tennessee State
"Ole Miss made a great decision when they hired Matt Insell. Matt is an excellent college basketball coach. I believe you have to be strong in many areas to be a quality college basketball coach. You can't be one-dimensional. Matt is an outstanding recruiter, a tireless worker in the area of player development and very knowledgeable from an X and O standpoint. He always had a great feel regarding in-game adjustments that will prove valuable to him as a head coach. More important than any of that to me, was his friendship to our family. He is like a member of our family. He was incredibly loyal to the Kentucky program, and we benefitted greatly from his contributions over the past five years."
- Matthew Mitchell, Head Women's Basketball Coach, Kentucky
Insell was named the head coach of the Ole Miss women's basketball team on March 28, 2013. Insell came to Oxford quite familiar with the Rebels after spending the previous five years as the top assistant on Matthew Mitchell's staff at Kentucky.
He helped guide Kentucky to four 20-win seasons and four trips to the NCAA Tournament in his time in Lexington. The Wildcats have ended the last three seasons he was on staff ranked in the top-25.
Insell, who was responsible for the guards while also having recruiting and player development duties, served as the top assistant coach and helped UK ink three top-10 recruiting classes and seven McDonald's All-Americans. During his time at Kentucky, Insell helped develop guard A'dia Mathies, a two-time SEC Player of the Year and All-America candidate, and Bria Goss who was named SEC Freshman of the Year.
Prior to Kentucky, Insell was the Director of Basketball Operations at Louisiana Tech under Coach Chris Long. Before that, he was considered one of the top AAU coaches in the country, coaching the Tennessee Flight, a Nike Elite Travel Program, for three years. Insell made a national name for himself after coaching 41 of his former AAU players to play Division I basketball, including former Wildcats Victoria Dunlap and Crystal Riley. He also coached the Shelbyville Sports Shop 15-Under team to the AAU National Championship title in 2004.
Insell earned valuable basketball experience while attending the University of Tennessee from 2001-2005. He worked closely with both the men and women's basketball programs, serving as a student assistant/video coordinator under former men's head coach Buzz Peterson and as an instructor at Pat Summitt's summer basketball camps. The Shelbyville, Tenn., native transferred to Middle Tennessee State during the 2005-06 season where his father, Rick Insell, is the head women's basketball coach. He went on to earn his bachelor's degree in political science from MTSU in 2007.
Insell File Personal Full Name: Matthew Ollen Insell Birthday: September 22, 1982 Hometown: Shelbyville, Tenn. High School: Shelbyville Central HS College: Middle Tennessee, `07 Degree: Bachelor's degree in Political Science
Coaching Career 2013-present: Head coach, Ole Miss 2008-2013: Assistant Coach, Kentucky 2007-08: Director of Basketball Operations, Louisiana Tech 2001-07: Head coach, AAU Tennessee Flight
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