OXFORD, Miss. — A coach with 475 career wins and two NCAA Tournament appearances to his credit, former Tulsa head coach Steven McRoberts looks to be successful from year one, as he was formally introduced as the seventh head coach of the Ole Miss volleyball program Thursday.
“There are a lot of good things in place,” McRoberts said. “We already have a lot of good student-athletes here. We’re looking forward to having success year one. We’re looking to be successful in the Southeastern Conference right away. The Southeastern Conference had eight teams make the NCAA Tournament last year, and so it is our goal to be in that group next year.”
McRoberts has compiled a career record of 475-161 (.747 winning percentage) in 17 years as a head coach at Lubbock Christian University, Central Arkansas and most recently Tulsa, where he led the Golden Hurricane to NCAA Tournament appearances in 2011 and 2012.
“When you’re going into a program, the biggest challenge is getting them to believe that they can win and instill that competitiveness and confidence in them in those close matches,” McRoberts said. “That’s going to be at the top of the list for us. We have a lot of good players here. It’s going to be coming in here year one and establishing that we’re going to win, and we’re not going to accept anything else.”
A program with three NCAA Tournament appearances in its history, Ole Miss is coming off a 14-17 season, including a 4-14 mark in Southeastern Conference play, that included five five-set losses and six four-set losses.
McRoberts noted the challenge of moving from Conference USA to the Southeastern Conference, but he also sees the promise of the team’s competitiveness in those close matches last season.
“When you look at match and game scores last year, you’re going to see that they were competitive in a lot of the matches. One of the things I mentioned to the team yesterday is, ‘Let’s get together and figure out why we’re losing all these four-set and five-set matches.’ We want to be a team that when we get into those situations, we’re winning those and we’re confident that we’re going to win those.”
Ole Miss had been on McRoberts’ radar for a while, from Oxford’s proximity to family in Murfreesboro, Tenn., and Little Rock, Ark., to the university’s welcoming atmosphere for female student-athletes and athletes in general.
In addition to success from year one, McRoberts also looks to engage and grow the fan base with an exciting style of volleyball.
“People like to come see winners,” McRoberts said. “We’re going to play an exciting style. We’re going to play an up tempo offense. We want to have student-athletes who are engaged in the community as well. Our job as coaches and players is to give fans a product that they want to come back and keep watching.”
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
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