Oct. 1, 2012
Written By: Sarah Harden, Media Relations Student Intern
The Ole Miss women’s basketball team officially opened practice today for the 2012-13 season, holding a two-hour practice at the BPF. First-year head coach Adrian Wiggins’ team is led by All-SEC honoree, junior Valencia McFarland, and seniors Courtney Marbra and Maggie McFerrin.
The Rebels return three starters and eight letterwinners from a year ago. The team welcomes four newcomers this year, including All-American Kay Caples, the 2012 National Junior College Player of the Year.
Teams can start practice 40 days before their first game and are allowed 30 practices during that time. Ole Miss’ first game of the 2012-13 season is a 5:30 p.m. tip against SELA on November 9. Click here for ticket information.
OXFORD, Miss. – Adrian Wiggins is looking forward to the opportunities his first season as the head coach of the Ole Miss women’s basketball team has provided.
He spent ten years with the Fresno State Bulldogs women’s basketball program, including seven years as head coach, in which he led the Bulldogs to five straight NCAA appearances and four Western Athletic Conference (WAC) tournament titles. Wiggins also recorded a program-best 28 wins during the 2011-2012 season and was the only coach in the program’s history to not have a losing season.
Wiggins said he has noticed many similarities between Fresno State and Ole Miss that he hopes will allow him to build another successful program.
“At Fresno, it was a matter of timing,” he said. “We were able to start that program and spend a lot of time there. I had ten total years, and I would hope in ten years here at Ole Miss that we could do similar things. Consistency is a big part of success, and that’s what ten years gave us at Fresno State. We’re building a new arena here, which is what we did in Fresno. Our fan base is down, and we were able to build a fan base at Fresno and we can do that here as well. The players were very hungry to win there, and they’re hungry to win here. There are a lot of similarities that make it exciting for me.”
One of the first points Wiggins has stressed since being hired in March is his academic expectations for his players. All players are required to meet a minimum grade point average to be eligible for play, and any player who falls short of those requirements will be placed on probation and will complete a set amount of study hours each week.
“I was the first person in my family to go to college and get a degree, and I went to school to be a teacher,” he said. “I taught high school in the classroom for three years, so it is important. Teaching is what I wanted to do. Basketball has just led me to this level and gotten me outside of the classroom, but I kind of still get to be in the classroom with our students. It’s very important to me that they learn to try and that every student tries to be better than they were the last grade, the last test, and the last class. At the end of the day, it’s not just about the grade, but also about the coping skills that they acquire that will allow them to go on in life and be a good citizen who can ultimately change the world and make it a better place.”
Wiggins said his motto is, “Be better every day.”
“I have a unique perspective, because I get to see the girls every day and work with them every day, and I truly believe that they are better than they have been playing,” he said. “I want to get them to a point where hard work comes naturally and winning feels natural.”
In addition to the opportunities coaching has provided, Wiggins said Oxford has also been an exciting, new experience for his family.
“Honestly, you hear this all the time, but we really do love Oxford,” he said. “It’s a neat town to live in. It has its culture, it has its art, it has its sports, and it embraces the university, so for me, when you combine the academics with the sports, that’s all I need in a town. Our family really likes it. The school system has been great for our kids. They’re very involved in the sports programs here in Oxford, so it’s been an easy transition for us.”
The most interesting thing about Wiggins’ position transition from teacher to head basketball coach is that he almost did not become either one.
“I played college baseball, but I always found myself going to basketball practices,” he said. “I really loved the sport. When I was in graduate school to be a psychologist, I kept going over to the basketball practice and sitting there and watching the team practice. I just realized that it was what I wanted to do. So I went back to school and got my teaching endorsement and started coaching high school boys’ basketball, and it’s led me to here, and it’s been a great experience. I truly do not need an alarm to get up every day.
“At the end of the day, it’s a great school, it’s a great conference, it’s a wonderful town to live in, and we just need to spend some time working on basketball the way our system likes to run it, and hopefully we can have some success,” he said.