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
    • The Season: Ole Miss Football Episode 4

      Wednesday, September 17, 2014 - Football

      The Season: Ole Miss Football - Episode 4 - ULL (2014) from Ole Miss Rebels on Vimeo.In case you missed it, The Season: Ole Miss Football Episode 1, The Season: Ole Miss Football Episode 2 and The Season: Ole Miss... read more

    • Freeze Talks Open Date, SEC West

      Wednesday, September 17, 2014 - Football

      Highlights from Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze's time on the SEC teleconference Wednesday, ahead of the Rebels' open date and return to action on Saturday, Sept. 27 against Memphis.Freeze's time on the call begins at the 1:50:18 mark. For the... read more

    • NASCAR's Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Visits Ole Miss

      Tuesday, September 16, 2014 - Football

      NASCAR driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr., visited Ole Miss on Wednesday. The Olive Branch, Mississippi, native spoke to various student groups, including the football team. Stenhouse Jr. presented head coach Hugh Freeze with a firesuit, and Freeze presented him with an... read more

    • Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review (Sept. 8-14)

      Monday, September 15, 2014 - Athletics

      Ole Miss Athletics Week in ReviewSept. 8-14, 2014Volleyball- Ole Miss captured the Magnolia Invitational this past weekend to improve to 10-0, its best start in school history.- The Rebels downed UAB and Mercer 3-0 and then defeated Jacksonville State 3-1... read more

    • Historic Start to the Football Season

      Sunday, September 14, 2014 - Football

      After a 56-15 win over Louisiana-Lafayette Saturday, Ole Miss moved up four spots to No. 10 in the latest Associated Press poll, released on Sunday.  Despite breaking into the top 10, the Rebels remain fifth among Southeastern Conference Western Division... read more

    • Observations from the Best Seat in the House - Sept. 14

      Sunday, September 14, 2014 - Athletics

      This is the third installment of Observations from the Best Seat in the House. The idea of this weekly feature will be to bring you all some of our observations from the previous week in Ole Miss Sports. This week... read more

    • Three Rebels Net First Goals of the Season

      Sunday, September 14, 2014 - Soccer

      Leading 1-0 after controlling the play for much of the game, Ole Miss opened up a 3-0 lead on Middle Tennessee with a pair of goals in the final minute of the first half on the way to a 4-0... read more

    • Golson's Buy-In Pays Off

      Saturday, September 13, 2014 - Football

      Senior cornerback Senquez Golson has come a long way since he was a freshman.  That season, he was most notably on the receiving end of a highlight reel juke from Alabama running back Trent Richardson. Three years later, as part... read more

    • VIDEO: Ole Miss-ULL Motivational

      Saturday, September 13, 2014 - Football

      Ole Miss vs ULL Official Team Motivational from Ole Miss Rebels on Vimeo.... read more

    • Three and Out: Keys to Ole Miss-ULL

      Saturday, September 13, 2014 - Football

      Three areas to watch as Ole Miss faces Louisiana-Lafayette in its home opener Saturday. Wearing the Bull's-Eye After a 2-0 start with wins over Boise State and Vanderbilt, Ole Miss moved up to No. 14 in the Associated Press poll,... read more

    • Thompson Lifts Rebels to Historic Start

      Friday, September 12, 2014 - Volleyball

      With a chance to make history, Ole Miss dropped a first set for the first time this season. The Rebels answered the bell winning the next three sets to defeat Jacksonville State 3-1 and improve to 10-0 on the season,... read more

    • VIDEO: Return of The Grove

      Friday, September 12, 2014 - Football

      read more

    • Rebel Nation Remembers Stan Sandroni

      Thursday, September 11, 2014 - Football

      Rebel Nation goes into its home opener Saturday excited for the return of football at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, but also saddened by the loss of one of its most renowned voices.Stan Sandroni, 64, passed away of a heart attack late Wednesday.... read more

    • Freeze Talks Schedule, Areas for Team to Improve

      Wednesday, September 10, 2014 - Football

      Highlights from Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze's time on the SEC teleconference Wednesday, ahead of the Rebels' home opener Saturday against Louisiana-Lafayette. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. from Vaught-Hemingway Stadium and will be televised on the SEC Network.Freeze's time... read more

    • Former football player releases Chucky Mullins book

      Wednesday, September 10, 2014 - Football

      Former Ole Miss football player Jody Hill has partnered with Square Books in Oxford to launch his book, "38: The Chucky Mullins Effect," celebrating the life and impact of his Ole Miss teammate Chucky Mullins. Hill will be signing copies... read more