MTSU coach Rick Insell previews game against Lady Toppers

I had a good talk this afternoon with Middle Tennessee women’s basketball coach Rick Insell, who – along with his Lady Raiders – host Western Kentucky at 2 p.m. Sunday.

Insell talked about MTSU’s recent surge, the play of WKU – which included some high praise for Michelle Clark-Heard – and the move to Conference USA.

RICK INSELL, Middle Tennessee coach

Take me through your season, and your current eight-game win streak: “We’re playing better now. We came into that early nonconference schedule, and we probably overdid it, to be honest with you. … We were kind of like a wounded animal. We just didn’t know where to go or what to do, and then we come right into the conference, and Florida International came in and beat us, and there we were, kind of reeling. At that point, we started getting more focused in practice, and since then we’ve been playing pretty good basketball. I don’t think we’ve played our best ball yet, but we’ve been pretty steady.”

Play of Ebony Rowe: “She’s been a horse and has just carried us. She’s who we’ve been leaning on all through this whole thing. I’ve had a lot of players bring their ‘A’ game every day in practice, and she’s one of them. I mean, God. It’s like we’re playing for a national championship that day. You don’t get many of those.”

Michelle Clark-Heard: “She’s done an outstanding job, and I mean outstanding. She brought in a totally different system than Mary Taylor had, and she’s plugged those players into that system. I can’t see how the people in Bowling Green aren’t excited about what’s happened there.”

More on Heard: “Her players have gravitated toward her leadership, and who would’ve thought that Govan and Gooch would improve so much? They went to Little Rock and won and beat Florida International, and it has to start with Michelle. The energy that she brought in there, her kids have gravitated toward that. She’s got some of the players that were there last year.”

What do you have to do against WKU? “We have to stop them in transition. They’re scoring a lot of points against good teams. When you score 80 points against, Little Rock – how many teams have done that in the last four years?”

Heard’s recruiting: “I see her out on the recruiting trail. She’s a tireless worker. She’s out there just as much as my coaches and myself, if not more.”

Move to C-USA, in terms of WKU: “As far as Western Kentucky is concerned, I’m hoping we can keep Western involved with our schedule. I haven’t talked to Michelle about it. I think the two ADs have gotten together about it, and I think Kermit has talked to Ray. But Michelle and I have had our wagon loaded just trying to keep our teams afloat. We’re not concerned with scheduling just yet.”

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