April 12, 2013
Athletics Director Ross Bjork
"Welcome to the most beautiful campus in all of higher education - The University of Mississippi. We're here today to celebrate women's basketball and celebrate our history. Also, to give us the jolt of energy that I've talked about the last couple of weeks with the introduction of our new head coach, Matt Insell. Let me speak to our history for just a moment, 30 winning seasons, 17 NCAA tournament appearances, 10 Sweet Sixteens, five Elite Eights, three Olympic team participants and three Women's Basketball Hall of Fame inductees. The list can go on and on. We celebrate our history, and we purposely hosted this welcome party here in the Gillom Center. We did it because all of you know that this facility is named after two women's basketball legends and two Ole Miss Rebel legends: Peggie and Jennifer Gillom. Jennifer could not be here today, but Peggie is here with us. Peggie will be officially inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in June in Knoxville. I know a lot of us will be there, along with the entire city of Abbeville. We really appreciate Peggie's contributions to our student-athletes.
Nothing happens without great leadership here on campus. We have the best Chancellor in all of higher education, Dr. Dan Jones. I want to welcome our current team. We reached an agreement a couple of weeks ago that when we hired Matt Insell, we would have no more of these heart-to-heart meetings anymore. It would all be celebratory from here on out. We'll stick to that agreement. Rebel Nation and Lady Rebel basketball history is very important to us. I want to thank Lynnette Johnson for spear heading our search. I want to thank Monica Lebron and Stephen Ponder for serving on the search committee. We have lots of athletics staff and coaches here, and I want welcome them and thank them for being here. Also, I want to thank and welcome the Insell family, Rick and Deborah.
Truth be told, we did not anticipate being here today. We hired a staff a year ago, and we had expectations for that group. Our program, and especially our student-athletes, have been through a lot in the past year. We continue to work our way through some of those items. As we try to establish, and will establish, the greatness of Ole Miss women's basketball. Sometimes in life, things happen for a reason. There's a purpose behind some of these twists and turns. A little over a year ago, I was serving as the Athletics Director at Western Kentucky University, and we were on the hunt for a women's basketball coach. I kept hearing about this young coach at this university in the state of Kentucky and how good he was. It wasn't just any program, it was the University of Kentucky as they were building an elite basketball program there. I had a chance to meet Matt during that process. I thought about the buzz his hire could have created. We had a chance to meet Matt during that process. I got my call from Ole Miss to become the Athletics Director here. I had to bow out of that final process at Western Kentucky. Once again, things happen for a reason. Matt and I had a chance to stay in touch now that we're in the Southeastern Conference. I was truly impressed with how Kentucky ran their program. Matt made unbelievable contributions in his five years there. We owed it to our program to go out and do the best search possible, and we searched far and wide for the next head coach. We met face-to-face with coaches in three categories: sitting head coaches, top assistant coaches and members of the Ole Miss family who are in the coaching profession. I'm very, very confident in our inclusive and thorough process to yield the result that we have today.
Simply put, Matt was the best. He had the best pedigree. He had the best energy that we needed for our program to return us to those glory days that I described. Matt Insell was born to coach basketball. He started watching film when he was 13. More importantly, he was really born to coach women's basketball. He's dedicated his career to be the best in recruiting, to be the best in academics, to be the best in community engagement, to be the best in coaching and to be the best at winning at the highest level. All of the characteristics of a great head coach. That's what we saw as we embarked on our search. Please help me welcome and give an Ole Miss family welcome to your head women's basketball coach, Matt Insell.
Head coach Matt Insell
"I'm honored to be your new head women's basketball coach here at the University of Mississippi, and I say the University of Mississippi because this is the flagship university of this great state. I'm very humbled and honored to be the University of Mississippi's head women's basketball coach. I'd like to recognize Alex Fuller, she's one of our assistant coaches. Alex comes to us from Middle Tennessee State University, where she was my dad's assistant. She won two national championships at the University of Tennessee. My dad is very upset with me. She was his recruiter. I'm very happy to have her. She's somebody that when I started on my journey to be a head coach that was always on my mind. I wanted her to be an assistant coach with me. Also, Todd Schaefer, he comes to us from Arkansas State University. I met Todd five years ago, and he was the best basketball mind I've ever sat down with. He impressed me from day one. He made an effort to get to know me for some unknown reason I guess it was because he wanted to come work for me one day. I tell him all the time that he had a plan five years ago, and I guess that plan has finally paid off for him. I'm glad to have both of them. My father, Rick Insell, has always been there for me. I've been around the world. As Ross said, I started breaking down film at 13 years old. It may have been earlier than that. At 13 years old, I told my father that I wanted to be a head coach in the SEC. I actually wanted to do that before I was 30 years old. I'm 30 years old, and I'm a head coach in the SEC. That's a goal I set out for 17 years ago, and I've accomplished that goal. I don't plan on leaving the SEC. I plan on being here for a long time, as long as Ross wants me here. I'm glad my father is here. My mother has been everywhere I've been, also. She was with me in Bridgeport, Connecticut a couple of weeks ago. She was on me because she said I didn't sleep two hours each night. I was trying to prepare a team to play a game, and also prepare a staff to recruit for Ole Miss. She was on me for five days in Bridgeport, Connecticut. I'm glad that she's here with us. I wouldn't be where I'm at today if it wasn't for both of them. I have two brothers. My oldest brother, Tom, is a high school basketball coach in the state of Tennessee. His principal would not let him off of school today to be here. Kyle, my middle brother, is a State Farm insurance agent. He's on me about finding a good State Farm Agent here in town. I have a close family friend here, Doobee Mallard. She has been with my family since I was old enough to walk. I'm glad that she was able to join me here. She's someone that will be around a lot. She will wear red. She called me when I was interviewing for the job. She said, `If they offer you that job, you better take that job.' I told her not to worry that I was taking it. John Dawson is a close friend of mine from Memphis, Tenn. John helped me run a travel team program that I ran for many years. He was my right hand man in that and he helped me get to where I am today. Gordon Summerfield is also here from Memphis, Tenn. He was very important to me in the early years of running travel team basketball and getting to this point. I'm glad both of them are here. One other person I would like to recognize, Eddie Clinton, president of AAU. I'm very glad he is here and in Oxford. He's someone that I want around our program every single day. I would like to thank our chancellor, Dan Jones, Athletics Director Ross Bjork, Lynnette Johnson, Stephen Ponder and Monica Lebron. Their dedication to this program sold me on Ole Miss. I had a great job. I was not looking to move. The first time Ross and I spoke I made that very clear. I had one of the best jobs in the country. I didn't have the best job, I have it now. I was not looking to move anywhere. I talked to Ross, and in the first five minutes I knew this is where I wanted to be. I knew we could do what he wanted to do here, and that's to win at the highest level and bring this program back to national prominence. That's what I'm here to do. I promise you guys this, I will not disappoint you. I will not sleep until we get it right. We're going to get it right, right here at Ole Miss.
To our proud alumni, I know this is a program you take a lot of pride in. I want you to know that I'm taking a lot of pride in this program. I want to bring this program back to where you had it. That's my goal, and that's a goal that I will reach. I'd like to thank my ex-boss Matthew Mitchell and Mitch Barnhart at the University of Kentucky. Those five years were very special to me. I put a lot into that program. That program that when we took over five years ago, was very similar to the program here. We put a lot of hard work and dedication into that program. I will never forget the people in that area and the people that I worked for. You will always have a special place in my heart. I look forward to you guys hopefully supporting us at Ole Miss, except for one game a year.
I can't put into words how excited I am to be your new head coach. I am highly motivated to bring this program back to the top of the SEC. It's not a program that we're building. This program has been built and it's done here before. We're just trying to upgrade it. We're trying to bring it back. I'm going to bring this program to where it needs to be. I don't have a magic wand. We're going to do that with hard work. Everyday we're going to bring relentless work ethic all the time. An honest effort every day and in everything that we do. If we do that, it will help us reach our ultimate goal main objective, winning the SEC Championship. If you win the SEC Championship, and you can compete at the top of this league, you have a chance to win a national championship. I really believe that. In the last five years I have seen it. I know the work it takes and I know that we can do it right here at Ole Miss. I'm asking the Rebel Nation to come out and support us. We need your support. We're not going to do it without you. One thing I will promise you, we are going to have a team. One thing I will promise you, we're going to have a team that goes out every time that we take the floor and they're going to play as hard as they can play for the Rebel Nation and this great university. When it's all said and done and the game is over, you're going to be able to walk out of that gym proud. You're going to know that this is your team. We have an open door policy. If you want to come to practice everyday, you're welcome. I want you involved in this program. Thank you again. I'm proud to be your coach. We're going to do this, and we're going to do it with hard work and dedication. We're going to reach our goal and that's to win an SEC Championship. It's going to be a great ride."
Insell on building the program:
"Recruiting is a big part of upgrading your program. We have nine great players right now. I could not be more excited about the work ethic and how hard they're working right now. We have to continue to build on that. We have to knock on every door that we can knock on. We can not take no for an answer. As we continue to do that, we have to continue to bring great players into the program and that's going to help us rebuilding. We're not going to walk out on the floor and just win. We have to continue to bring in great players. We have them now, and we have to continue to bring them in."
Insell on following in his dad's footsteps:
"I didn't have much choice. When you're raised in a basketball family where my dad is a coach, my brother is a coach, my grandmother's a coach and all of my friends are coaches. It was either coach basketball or get a real job. I've never looked at basketball as a real job. Basketball is something I enjoy doing because I have a passion for it. I was very fortunate to be around some great people. My father was great and helped me develop as a young coach. I went to the University of Tennessee as a student assistant for Buzz Peterson. Buzz Peterson was a big part of my success and getting to where I am right now. He helped in teaching me the college game. I did men's basketball in college. I had plenty of opportunities, because I was running a successful summer basketball women's program. I chose men's basketball because I wanted to learn the men's way. That helped me develop my style of play that I want to play. On to Kentucky with Matthew Mitchell, he's been very important to me also. Matthew has been great for me in helping build a program. Kentucky was 11th in the league when we got there. It took hard work, but we went to three of the last four Elite Eights. Those were things that helped me along the way to get to where I am right now.
I've been preparing for this job since I was 13 years old. When I got to Tennessee at 18, I told Buzz Peterson I could do his job better than him, and he laughed at me. I got to Kentucky five years ago, and I thought I was ready to be a head coach. I was not. The five years I spent there prepared me for this opportunity. I'm very fortunate to be here at 30 years old. Age is just a number. Age means nothing in the realm of this profession. It's how good you are at what you do. I prepared myself at an early age to get to this point. My age is not something that I look at as something that's going to hold me back. I look at it as something that's going to help me. I have a lot of experience. I've been preparing for this position since I was 13. I take this position very serious. I'm taking my staff hires very serious. In everything dealing with this program, I'm taking very serious."
Insell on his philosophy on recruiting:
"We will recruit to a system. Everything we do is about tempo and toughness. I don't care what you're ranked. We recruit to our system. Our system will be based on tempo and toughness. We want to be the fastest team in the country, offensively and defensively. We want to take teams out of their comfort zone. We will do that. We will recruit players that have that same mentality. They have that mentality. I've put them through some tough workouts. They've had great intensity. They want it. It's a fun style of play. I'll tell every recruit I talk to, everybody talks about running. Unless you practice that way, you can not do that. We practice that way every single day. It's fun to do, but it's hard to get that point where you can do it. We're going to do it. We have to build on that. We will recruit the best players in the country. Coach (Hugh) Freeze has proven that the best players can come here. We have a lot of excitement around this athletic department with football and men's basketball. We have to build on that. We have to go out into these homes and use their success in recruiting and on the court to our advantage. At Kentucky, that was a big part in our recruiting. We used the men's basketball success to build the program. We have to do the same here. We have to go out and find the best players in the country, and we're not taking no for an answer. I was in a situation five years ago where they were telling me you can't get this kid. They're telling me the same thing right now. It didn't stop me from calling them yesterday. We're going to call everybody that we think fits our system, and we're going to get them right here at Ole Miss."
Insell on his returning players:
"We've had four workouts. One thing I notice is that we're very athletic. For the style of play that I want to play, you have to be athletic. That excites me about them. I told them yesterday and everyday, I'm not worried about your footwork. I'm worried about your pace. I'm worried about how hard you play and the kind of energy that you have. They've had that. They've had great pace and energy. We're in the process of hopefully adding a couple of kids, too. If that happens, it happens. If it doesn't, we're going to win. This team is going to win. We've got three seniors that want to win now. They don't want to wait until two or three years from now. We're taking a win now approach. We're going to work every single day that we're going to win this year. This is their last year. I'm going to work everyday in the office, and I've told the coaches, you have to come to work every single day expecting to win now. They're getting in the gym. They know where I stand. Anything else is unacceptable. They realized that pretty quickly."
Insell on the concern with ongoing NCAA investigation:
"It is what it is. We can't do anything about that. Its happened. Ross and I have talked about it, and we feel really good about where we're at. Hopefully when this year is over everything will be done and we can move forward. If it's not done, we'll continue to move forward. There will not be anything that derails us from our ultimate goals. We'll move on. I can promise you this, it won't happen again. We will do everything with an honest effort. We'll be honest at all times. We're going to have discipline on our coaching staff at all times. What we've gone through the past couple of years won't happen again. I'm really motivated to have the best staff possible. I'm really taking this seriously on who I'm hiring, and I'm meeting with them multiple times."
Insell on adding players:
"I don't have a set numbers. We're not adding players just to add players. We're adding players to help us win now. If you can't help us win now, then we're not bringing you on a visit. We're looking at three or four players. We feel really good about some. Our goal is to sign two, maybe three, if not four in the late signing period over the next month. If that happens it happens, if it doesn't, I feel really good about what we have here. I've made that very clear to everyone that I've talked to."
Insell on his scheduling philosophy:
"We're not playing Middle Tennessee this year. We have our schedule set for this year. It's an exciting schedule. We have not released it obviously, because we're waiting on the SEC official schedule to come out. My philosophy is to beat the best, you have to play them. We're going to play the best. We're going to get teams to come here to play that you as fans want to see us play. Not just a random team. We want to play the best. That's philosophy that I was taught with my dad. You can not go in the NCAA Tournament and think that you're going to play with Baylor if you've never played Baylor. If you'd played them, you think you can beat them. In 2007, Ole Miss played Maryland. Maryland dominated that game. Four or five months later they played them in the Sweet Sixteen, and Ole Miss dominated that game. The reason Ole Miss won that game is because they played them early in the year. If they had never played Maryland earlier in the year, they may not have won that game. They believed that they could beat them because they already played them. You have to play those teams to beat them when it counts."