Faleru Shines In First Season Under Insell

OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM Tia Faleru is blossoming under the direction of head coach Matt Insell and his staff.
OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM
Tia Faleru is blossoming under the direction of head coach Matt Insell and his staff.
OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM

Feb. 4, 2014

By Austin Miller, OleMissSports.com

OXFORD, Miss. — One year makes all the difference.

A year ago, junior forward Tia Faleru played mostly on the perimeter and came off the bench in all but two games. A year later, she has started all but one game and leads the Southeastern Conference with 11 double-doubles on the season.

“The biggest difference will have to be the coaching staff,” Faleru said. “They came in and changed my role. I was playing guard more last year, and now I play the four position because I have size and I’m more athletic than most of the post players we play. They’re bigger, but I’m quicker and I use my athletic ability.”

“We helped her a lot mentally,” head coach Matt Insell said. “Tia was not where she needed to be mentally, and that’s where her biggest growth has come. She is as talented a player as she was last year. Mentally, she is a much better player. She’s thinking and playing the game better and smarter. She’s using her athleticism a lot better this year than she did last year.”

Despite coming off the bench last season, Faleru tied for the team lead averaging 11.4 points per game and was second on the team averaging 5.0 rebounds per game. This season, she leads the Rebels in both categories averaging 16.5 points per game and 9.7 rebounds per game. Her 9.7 rebounding average leads the league, while her scoring average ranks fourth.

The Ozark, Ala., native first noticed the change in her game during the offseason, as she was trying to buy in and adjust to the new coaches and the new system. From the coaches telling her in the offseason, to seeing the results on the court so far this season, Faleru is beginning to see a potential future in the WNBA.

 “It kind of scares me that I do have this potential,” Faleru said. “Growing up, that is every little girl’s dream, and it’s been my dream for the longest time. Now, knowing that I can actually do that. From the offseason to now, I know I have to work to get to where I want to be, which is to play in the WNBA.”

“She has a knack for the basketball with rebounding, similar to Dennis Rodman, where she knows where the ball is coming off,” Insell said. “Anybody that is a great rebounder like she is has a chance to play at the next level. Where her growth has to happen is she needs to get more skilled and work on her individual skill work, in terms of her ball handing, fine-tuning her shot and footwork. Athletically and ability-wise, she has it all in her. We have to fine tune her skills and make her athleticism even more skilled.”

Faleru helped Ole Miss to its first SEC win of the season and the Matt Insell Era with 29 points and 15 rebounds in an 87-85 overtime win over Mississippi State.

That win, Insell said, was the first game of an 11-game season. And if the Rebels finish with a winning record over those 11 games, they would finish the regular season with a winning record and put themselves in position for a postseason bid.

“He reminds us every day in practice,” Faleru said of Insell. “Any time he sees us, he tells us he believes in us and asks if we believe in him. As players, we have bought in completely. We come to practice every day, win or loss, ready to go and ready to work. We have to do it for our seniors. To get where we need to go, we have to take it game-by-game.”

 Austin Miller is a writer and blogger for OleMissSports.com. He joined the staff in June 2013 after serving as sports editor of the Daily Mississippian. Follow him on Twitter @austinkmiller

 

Ole Miss Gear
    Facebook
    Twitter
    Blog
    • Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review (Jan. 20-26, 2015)

      Monday, January 26, 2015 - Athletics

      Ole Miss Athletics Week in ReviewJan. 20-26, 2015Men's Basketball - Senior guard Jarvis Summers scored 4 points in the final 26.6 seconds to lift Ole Miss to a 72-71 victory over Florida Saturday. Summers scored a team-high 16 points, including... read more

    • Observations from the Best Seat in the House -- Jan. 25

      Sunday, January 25, 2015 - Athletics

      Classes started on the Ole Miss campus this past week, as the men's and women's basketball teams enter the heart of Southeastern Conference play. Some of the spring sports have started their 2015 seasons, while others are gearing up for... read more

    • Prewitt Caps Impressive Week at Senior Bowl

      Sunday, January 25, 2015 - Football

      Former Ole Miss safety Cody Prewitt capped an impressive week at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, with a game-high five tackles in the game itself Saturday. His former teammate, cornerback Senquez Golson sat out the game with a hamstring... read more

    • VIDEO: Home is Ole Miss

      Friday, January 23, 2015 - Football

      Ole Miss Football: Home is Ole Miss from Ole Miss Rebels on Vimeo.... read more

    • VIDEO: Ole Miss Baseball Omaha Challenge

      Friday, January 23, 2015 - Baseball

      The Season: Ole Miss Baseball: Omaha Challenge 2014 from Ole Miss Rebels on Vimeo.... read more

    • Rivalry Game with NCAA Tournament Implications

      Thursday, January 22, 2015 - Women's Basketball

      Ole Miss closes out a three-game stretch in which they will have faced three consecutive ranked opponents when they welcome No. 18 Mississippi State on Thursday night. The Rebels are 1-1 through the first two games of the stretch, having... read more

    • Prewitt, Golson Impress at Senior Bowl Practices

      Thursday, January 22, 2015 - Football

       Photo GalleryCody Prewitt and Senquez Golson will represent Ole Miss in the Senior Bowl, which will take place Saturday at 3 p.m. CT from Mobile, Alabama, and will be televised by the NFL Network. The duo have already had a busy... read more

    • Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review (Jan. 13-19, 2015)

      Monday, January 19, 2015 - Athletics

      Ole Miss Athletics Week in ReviewJan. 13-19, 2015Men's Basketball - Ole Miss thrashed No. 19 Arkansas 96-82 on Saturday. The Rebels picked up their first true road win over a ranked opponent since 2003 and scored the second-most points ever... read more

    • Observations from the Best Seat in the House -- Jan. 18

      Sunday, January 18, 2015 - Athletics

      The Ole Miss men's and women's basketball teams both made some history, while the men's and women's tennis teams started their spring seasons. National Signing Day (Feb. 4) and the start of baseball season (Feb. 13) are less than a... read more

    • Key Stretch Starts with Tough Test in LSU

      Tuesday, January 13, 2015 - Men's Basketball

      After an up-and-down non-conference slate that included wins over Creighton, Cincinnati and Oregon, all away from home, and losses to Charleston Southern and Western Kentucky, both at home, Ole Miss learned a lot about itself in the first week of... read more

    • Way-Too-Early Preseason Top 25 Rankings

      Tuesday, January 13, 2015 - Football

      Ole Miss football finished the 2014 football season with a 9-4 record and a top-20 final national rankings in both polls. The Rebels come in at No. 17 in the Associated Press poll and No. 19 in the Amway Coach... read more

    • Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review (Jan. 6-12, 2015)

      Monday, January 12, 2015 - Athletics

      Ole Miss Athletics Week in ReviewJan. 6-12, 2015Women's Basketball - Ole Miss went 2-0 on the week with a road win at Florida and a win at home against Alabama, moving to 13-4 overall and 3-1 in SEC action while... read more

    • Observations from the Best Seat in the House -- Jan. 11

      Sunday, January 11, 2015 - Athletics

      The Ole Miss men's basketball team opened SEC play, while the Ole Miss women's basketball team continued SEC play, as we enter the heart of college basketball season. Over the weekend, the men's and women's teams posted wire-to-wire wins on... read more

    • Rebels to Open SEC Play ' in Grand Fashion'

      Tuesday, January 6, 2015 - Men's Basketball

      Ole Miss looks to reverse history, as the Rebels (9-4) travel to No. 1 Kentucky tonight (6 p.m., SEC Network), the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams. Ole Miss is 0-15 all-time against the nation's top ranked team, last playing... read more

    • Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review (Dec. 29, 2014-Jan. 5, 2015)

      Monday, January 5, 2015 - Athletics

      Ole Miss Athletics Week in ReviewDec. 29, 2014-Jan. 5, 2015Football- The No. 9 Ole Miss football team finished the 2014 football season with a 9-4 record, its best since 2009, after a 42-3 defeat to No. 6 TCU in the... read more