As basketball season begins to wind down, the Ole Miss women’s team travels to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, to take on Alabama in their penultimate game of the regular season. The Rebels currently sit at 9-19 on the season, 3-11 in SEC play.
While this may appear to be a lackluster record, a three-win record in a very difficult conference is somewhat impressive for head coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin’s first season at Ole Miss, and it provides a foundation upon which she can build a respectable program. This team will lose some key seniors at the season’s end but has enough young talent to continue to generate excitement for next year.
Alabama enters tonight’s game with a 12-15 record, 4-10 in conference. Coming off an overtime loss to Georgia on Sunday, the Crimson Tide will fight hard for a victory in this matchup between SEC bottom-dwellers.
Both programs will be fighting for bragging rights, and their proximity in the standings should provide for a hard-fought match. Alabama’s win against Vanderbilt last week was its first since late January, and the team will be seeking another win to pad its record before its final game of the season at Missouri on Sunday.
Ole Miss has lost eight of its past nine, including three games in a row entering tonight’s matchup with the Crimson Tide. This losing streak comes on the heels of back-to-back wins at then-No. 16 Kentucky and at home against Florida in mid-January.
While this performance was expected by some, many fans have been disappointed in the lack of success this season, pointing to first-year Ole Miss head coach Kermit Davis’s success with men’s basketball this season as an example of immediate results. While it is easy to jump to conclusions based on a coach’s first season with a team, building a strong college program usually takes years to accomplish, and Davis’s success this season is more of the exception than the rule.
McPhee-McCuin is highly respected by her peers and has the ability to lead the Rebels to greatness, given time and support. While she will not match last season’s win total, McPhee-McCuin has brought an edge, an identity and much-needed energy to a program that, for years, has struggled to be relevant. Their 8-9 record at home this season should also be a sign of better things to come, as an abysmal 1-10 record in games outside The Pavilion will improve with time and better recruiting classes.
The program will continue to develop under the skilled leadership of McPhee-McCuin, and it will not be long before the women’s basketball team establishes itself as a competitor in the SEC.
This is the last road game of the season for the Rebels, and they will close out the year with Senior Day at home against Tennessee on Sunday. The Rebels will be honoring four seniors, including their three leading scorers and redshirt seniors Crystal Allen, Shandricka Sessom and La’Karis Salter.
It will be a difficult rebuilding process, but if Coach Yo is in it for the long haul, Rebel fans should be, too.