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Friday, April 18, 2014

Age is just a number to Insell

Matt Insell became the youngest head women’s basketball coach in the Southeastern Conference Thursday when he accepted Ole Miss’ offer to take over the program.

Looking around the league at his counterparts, the 30-year-old Insell said Friday morning he doesn’t see his age as a negative. In fact, he doesn’t think about his age much at all.

“I view age as a number. Age has nothing to do with experience. Age has nothing to do with relationships and knowledge of the game,” he said. “If age meant something, LeBron James wouldn’t be as successful as he has been in his profession, Tiger Woods wouldn’t have been as successful as he was at an early age. Age is just what it is, it’s just a number to me and it’s not something I take very serious.”

For the last five seasons, Insell has had at Kentucky while head coach Matthew Mitchell turned what was a solid women’s program into a perennial national title contender.

In the 17 years prior to Mitchell taking over, Kentucky appeared in three NCAA Tournaments and four National Women’s Invitational Tournaments.

Since the 2007-2008 season, Mitchell has led the Wildcats to two WNIT births and is currently riding a four-year NCAA Tournament run.

When looking at the program is set to inherit, Insell sees a lot of similarities between where Ole Miss is and Kentucky was.

“I have just always felt that in this conference, the Southeastern Conference, that you can win at the highest level no matter where you’re at,” Insell said. “It’s all about hard work, surrounding yourself with a good staff and there’s no doubt I’ll surround myself with a great staff. We’re going to work hard every day to achieve our ultimate goal of winning at the highest level. I’ve never wanted anything but that.

“A lot of people said when we came to Kentucky that it couldn’t be done here and look at it now. It’s the same situation when you talk about the University of Mississippi and where we were the first few years at the University of Kentucky.”

Kentucky’s current roster is comprised of players from all over the country, ranging from New York and Washington, D.C., to California and Texas.

Ole Miss may not be able to attract the same caliber of athlete as Kentucky is from Day 1, but Insell said the recruiting tactics won’t change.

“At Kentucky we relationship-base recruit. We started out slowly where we had relationships at and that’s what recruiting is. It’s where your relationships are and I have a national network,” he said. “Honestly, we’re going to sign the best players that will help us win at the top. We can’t win on the basketball court unless we’re winning in recruiting. Recruiting is something that’s going to be very important and something we take very seriously. We will go across the country and sign the best players that we can sign.

“At the same time, lock down the state and sign the very best players in the state of Mississippi.”

Insell is still with the Wildcats while they make compete in the NCAA Tournament and won’t fully make the transition to Ole Miss until Kentucky’s season has come to a close.

In between game prep, practice and other UK duties, Insell said he’s working on comprising a staff and is already hitting the recruiting trail.

“I’m still talking to people. Nothing is official. I have criteria for what I’m looking for and I’m out there building relationships throughout the business,” Insell said. “My phone hasn’t stopped ringing and I have about 300 text messages I haven’t responded to yet — I hope people aren’t mad at me but I have a lot of stuff going on right now and also trying to prepare a team to take on Delaware tomorrow. I wish I could have it done right now, but I do have people that I’m talking with and others that I’m looking forward to talking with in the coming weeks.”

Insell is Ole Miss’ fourth coach in three seasons. Adrian Wiggins was hired following the 2011-2012 season to replace Renee Ladner but was fired before ever getting a chance to coach the Lady Rebels. Brett Frank served as the interim head coach during the 2012-2013 season. (March 29, 2013)

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