Rebels’ women bank on youth

By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal

HOOVER, Ala. – Ole Miss women’s basketball coach Renee Lander is hoping an infusion of talented young players – and a key summer trip abroad to help them acclimate – will help the Rebels improve on an injury-plagued 2010-2011 season.
Among other problems, the Rebels lost leading scorer Kayla Melson. The lost their last eight games, 10 of their last 11, and finished 10-19, 3-13 in the SEC.
This year’s roster includes five freshmen who were a big part of a Canada trip in which the Rebels averaged 76 points.
“There was no fear. I was surprised about that. I thought there would be some fear down the stretch, but they competed at very high level,” Ladner said.
The standouts in the group included Tia Faleru, a 6-foot guard from Carroll, Ala., Danielle McCray, a 6-1 forward from West Palm Beach, Fla., and Amber Singletary, a 5-9 point guard from Baltimore.
The emergence of Singletary could allow Valencia McFarland, a 5-4 guard who played the point last year, to spend more time at the shooting guard position. McFarland averaged 13.3 points last year.
Three new starters?
Ladner is set on McFarland and senior post Nikki Byrd as starters. They could be joined in the first five by three freshmen.
“We’re going to play a lot of players early on, and we’re going to see who comes out of this mix,” Ladner said. “They all played in Canada, and they all contributed greatly.”
The Rebels open their season at home on Nov. 11 against North Florida.