Head Coach Matt Insell said the women’s basketball team has a new depth to it, which has helped it grow as a team.
According to Insell, working hard during camp and practices has helped the players with improving their shot game.
“We worked a lot on our offensive game over the summer, and we had players make around 45,000 to 50,000 shots in two months. We talked to them about getting in the gym on their own, and that is something that this group does,” Insell said. “Layups are not going to be an issue for us, and they have not been an issue so far this month, and it hasn’t been in the two games we’ve played. We are going to score the basketball.”
Because Ole Miss has gotten deeper in the post, the team is taking better shots since the players do not have to rush and take more long outside shots. With returning players Erika Sisk and Shandricka Sessom, the team has better experience on the perimeter.
By adding Taylor Manuel and Shelby Gibson, the team now has a better post tandem in the low block. Coach Insell said that Manuel will be a new player to watch.
“She may be the best passing post player that I have ever coached and maybe ever seen,” Insell said. “The kid has great court vision, and she can pass the ball. If we could get the ball to her, she is going to draw double team, and she is going to get the ball back out to people who need it.”
Manuel was a two-time, first-team All-MVC section, and she was the 2014-2015 Missouri Valley newcomer of the year. She led her former team in scoring with 15.2 points per game and 7.8 rebounds per game. In addition, she ranked in the Valley’s top charts in scoring (fifth), rebounding (second) and field goal percentage (sixth).
Sisk also said Manuel has been a great addition to the team.
“Taylor is a great post player. Like coach said, every time she touches the ball, something good happens, and we’ve never had that,” Sisk said.
Due to their low shooting percentages last year, they have charted every shot the team has taken from the summer practices until the fall. At the end of every day, the players are given their stats. With the stats, they can see where they are during that day in comparison to where they were over a three-month period. By seeing their percentages, they have a chance to see improvement.
“I have seen a drastic improvement in those areas, and I’m excited about this team, and I think this team has a chance to be really, really good,” Insell said. “I’ve coached some real good teams. I’ve been a part of three elite eight teams, and this team ranks up there in terms of depth and talent to those teams that have been elite eights, but if we stay healthy, this team has the chance to do something really special this season.”