By Justin Claas and AJ Norwood
The Ole Miss men’s and women’s basketball teams are competing in the National Invitational Tournament starting this week after missing the cut for the NCAA Tournament.
Coach Kermit Davis and the men’s team, one of the first four out of the Big Dance, will face Louisiana Tech as a one seed Friday night. The Women’s team is preparing to take on Samford Thursday evening, but they will have to start the tournament without Coach Yo, who announced Wednesday that she tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend.
“You know as far as health-wise I’m, good my family is good,” McCuin told reporters virtually from her living room. “I’m more so not feeling good about, you know, my absence.”
Coach Yo, who is in the third year of her contract and signed an extension through 2025 earlier this month, just completed the most successful season of her Ole Miss tenure, with an 11-11 record highlighted by a sweep of Kentucky and upset of Arkansas in the SEC tournament. Although she will now have to watch from home as her team tries to make a run in the WNIT, she is still watching and commanding practices via live stream. However, her assistants will have to take the helm at the upcoming games themselves.
Coach Yo has encouraged fans to keep supporting the team despite the disappointment of missing the NCAA Tournament and her positive tests, considering the leap her team has taken from losing every conference matchup just a year ago.
“We’re going to the postseason! And that’s pretty cool,” she said. “And you know what, teams that go to the postseason and NIT, and do really well, usually end up in the tournament the following year. So I’m gonna bet on that.” Ole Miss takes on the Samford at 5:00 Thursday evening.
Ole Miss had other teams competing in winter championships last weekend. The Rebel track and field teams were in Albuquerque at the NCAA Indoor Championships Thursday through Saturday. The men’s team racked up 20 points for a 10th place finish, led by the distance medley relay team who recorded the third fastest time in NCAA history. The women’s team finished the championship in 19th place.
The Ole Miss rifle team was one of eight teams competing at the NCAA Championship in Columbus, Ohio. They locked down third place as a team in air rifle, smallbore and overall. The best finish in program history.
Freshman Leah Horvath mirrored the team performance, claiming third for individual air rifle, smallbore and overall.
Following the championship, Horvath, sophomore Kristen Derting, junior Erin Walsh, and freshman Martina Gratz all received All-American honors from the College Rifle Coaches Association.