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Coach McPhee-McCuin brings tough perspective to Ole Miss

Competitiveness! Toughness! Fight!

That’s the combined battle cry of Coach Yolett ‘Coach Yo’ McPhee-McCuin, who heads the University of Mississippi’s (Ole Miss) Women’s Basketball Program.

In her first season mentoring the Ole Miss Lady Rebels, ‘Coach Yo’, as she is fondly called, has been modest about her expectations. That’s why the three wins thus far in the tough Southeastern Conference (SEC) is sort of gravy for a program in transformation.

‘Coach Yo’ and her Lady Rebels lost to the University of Georgia on Monday, 78-56, and stand with a 3-9 win-loss record in the conference. The Rebels have an overall 9-17 record.

They will go into this coming Thursday game, against state rival Mississippi State, sitting 11th the 13-team SEC. State is 11-1, tied with South Carolina at the top. So, the rallying cry of “competitiveness, toughness, and fight” will be the prime motivating factor for ‘Coach Yo’s squad. It’s about playing as hard as possible. This perspective was emphasized in ‘Coach Yo’s post-game interview with Ole Miss Sports News, regarding the upcoming contest.

“I just want to see fight. I want the last picture when people think of Ole Miss women’s basketball is competitiveness, toughness and fight. There has not been one coach who we have competed against, who has not talked to me before and after the game about how hard my kids play,” said the Grand Bahama native.

‘Coach Yo’ has had to work with relatively a new crew, inclusive of seniors she brought in for the most part, and several first-year players. The seniors have been led by top scorer Crystal Allen (21 points in the defeat at the hands of Georgia).

The coach had high praise for her small freshmen nucleus, especially several of them with notable performances against Georgia. Reference is to the likes of Taylor Smith, who performed well across the board, contributing seven points, three rebounds, two assists and a steal. According to the Ole Miss Sports News, Mimi Reid (six points, two rebounds, two assists) and Gabby Crawford (four points, six rebounds) were positive demonstrations of what ‘Coach Yo’ can look forward to for next season.

“At one point, I had four freshmen on the floor. This was their first time being thrown in the fire and I was pretty proud of them and how they competed for the time that they played. We are going to try and build off that,” added ‘Coach Yo’, as reported by Ole Miss Sports News.

True to the fire inside of her, ‘Coach Yo’ admitted to being disappointed, in a brief chat we had following the game.

Such will definitely be the case on Thursday if the Lady Rebels come out on the losing end. In a sense, the entire first season at Ole Miss has been somewhat paradoxical for ‘Coach Yo’. Understandably, because of the hand she had to deal with, upon taking over the women’s program at Ole Miss, ‘Coach Yo’ has been beyond adequate.

She breathed a lot of hope for the better into the system. Still though, she has that burning desire to succeed. So, it’s been a bittersweet experience for her.

Season two figures to be quite different.

• To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at e-mail address or on WhatsApp at (242) 727-6363.

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