McFarland Is Key To Rebels' Up-tempo Style Of Play

OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM
Valencia McFarland looks to lead the Rebels in her senior season.

OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM
Valencia McFarland looks to lead the Rebels in her senior season.
OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM

Oct. 17, 2013

By Austin Miller, OleMissSports.com

 OXFORD, Miss. — Ole Miss head coach Matt Insell has set a goal to be the fastest team in the country, and it all starts with senior point guard Valencia McFarland.

A three-year starter, McFarland was named Team MVP last year, having finished tied for first on the team in scoring (11.4 points per game) and was one of two players to start all 29 games.

“When I took the job, (former Ole Miss head women’s basketball coach) Van Chancellor told me, ‘One good thing you have that a lot of coaches don't have when they take over a job is you have an All-American point guard.’ And we have a really, really good point guard in Valencia,” Insell said.

“She can make a lot of things that don't look good at times look very good, and she makes up for a lot of mistakes, or maybe a flaw here or a flaw there within our team. Having her as a point guard is a luxury that I have being a new coach with this team. She's an experienced guard in this league.”

The Edwards, Miss., native ended last year second in the Southeastern Conference in assist-to-turnover ratio, third in assists (5.3) and minutes played (34.4 mpg) and fourth in steals (2.4 spg).

 And from the up-tempo offense, to the man-to-man defense, McFarland “fits in perfect” with everything Insell and the Rebels are trying to do.

 “Coach Matt wants us to play at a faster pace, and he’s pushing us every time on offense and defense, so the game is going to be a lot quicker for us,” McFarland said. “I want to get better in pushing the tempo. The biggest challenge is pushing your body to its limit and not getting mentally fatigued or tired.”

 “I made a statement, and I'm not scared to go out on a limb and say that she's the best point guard in this league,” Insell said. “She's as good as any point guard that I have coached. She's very smart. She can pass, read defenses and score the basketball. There are a lot of things that she can do with a basketball that a lot of people can't do, and so it's great to have her running our team.”

Ole Miss will go as McFarland goes, Insell said, and the big thing for McFarland is to be more consistent and take a leadership role as one of three seniors on this year’s team.

“Her taking ownership and being more assertive is a big thing that we have been on her about, and I couldn't be happier with her in practice,” Insell said. “She's there early, she stays late, and she's always leading drills. I'm on her and push her every day. She tells me sometimes that I get on her for stuff she does right, which I do because I want her to know that, 'Hey, look, we’ve got to do even better,' because I'm expecting a lot out of her.”

“He’s been hard on me, which I like,” McFarland said. “I want him to push me to be the best, and every time we come out here, he wants me to lead the team in any way possible. If something goes wrong, it’s always my fault. I take responsibility for everything, so I just try to lead my team in any way possible.”

McFarland said she has focused on and improved her defense and pushing the ball every play. Her defense in particular, Insell said, gives her a bright future in basketball.

“The thing that really impresses me the most, I didn't know beside her being so smart, is she can really defend,” Insell said. “She has a chance to be a professional basketball player and play in the WNBA next season because of how well she can defend and contain dribble penetration. Her basketball smartness offensively is going to carry her to another level.”

Before McFarland can focus on the WNBA, she has some unfinished business at Ole Miss. Entering her senior season, McFarland ranks second among active players in the SEC in career assists (420), trailing Vanderbilt's Jasmine Lister (447) and is fifth among active SEC players in scoring with 1,107 career points. McFarland has been a finalist for the C Spire Gillom Trophy each of the last two seasons and is looking to win the honor her senior year.

 McFarland and the Rebels open the 2013-14 regular season on Friday, Nov. 8 when it welcomes the Jacksonville State Gamecocks to Oxford. Tip-off is set for 5 p.m., the first game of a double-header with the Ole Miss men’s team, which opens its season at 7:30 p.m. against the Troy Trojans.

 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
    • 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

      Men'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 by an opponent in Bud Walton Arena.... 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

      Women'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 winning back-to-back SEC games for the first... 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

    • Observations from the Best Seat in the House -- Jan. 4

      Sunday, January 4, 2015 - Athletics

      Observations from the Best Seat in the House is back, having taken a week off for the Christmas holidays and traveled to Atlanta for the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. The football team finished the season in a "New Year's Six" bowl,... read more