The Basketball Podcast: EP321 with Yolett McPhee-McCuin for a Deep Dive

RELEASE DATE : 22/05/2024

In this week’s coaching conversation, University of Mississippi head coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin joins The Basketball Podcast for a deep dive into defensive principles, offensive philosophy and sustaining success.

Head coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin has elevated Ole Miss women’s basketball back into the national spotlight throughout her six seasons in Oxford. McPhee-McCuin keeps building upon success each season at the helm of the Rebels, leading Ole Miss to a program record 12 SEC wins in 2023-24 as well as the school’s third straight NCAA Tournament appearance for its 20th overall.

Along with guiding the Rebels to a program best in conference wins, McPhee-McCuin picked up her 100th win at the helm of Ole Miss during the 2023-24 season to become the second coach in program history to achieve the feat. McPhee-McCuin spent the five seasons before Ole Miss transforming Jacksonville into a perennial power in the Atlantic Sun Conference. During her tenure as head coach, McPhee-McCuin led the Dolphins to a 94-63 record (50-24 in ASUN play) and postseason appearances in each of her last three seasons.

McPhee-McCuin, who has also served as the national team head coach for her native Bahamas, was an assistant at Clemson from 2011-13, where she was recognized as one of the top assistants in the nation by National Women’s Basketball Insider. Before her stint at Clemson, McPhee-McCuin was on staff at Pittsburgh for two seasons in 2009 and 2010. Her coaching career also includes stops at Portland, Frank Phillips College, and Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

Yolett McPhee-McCuin

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Yolett McPhee-McCuin Quotes:

“We want to be a master of something. And our man to man defense is just something that I’m willing to stick with as long as I coach.”

“We’re now JUCO coaches, right? With the philosophy of every two years, you may have a brand new roster and there’s no excuse. This is just what it is, the times we’re in. So, I think an advantage for us is having a defensive system. That way people know what to expect when they come and we recruit towards it.”

“Anytime you play an opponent, I think that the team that enforces their identity the most wins.”

“We look at each opponent and when we’re preparing what we’re saying is, ‘How can we dictate what they’re going to do offensively?’ If they want to be a motion team, which means they’re a passing team, then we spend a lot of time on not allowing them to pass . . If they’re a dribble drive team, then we want to make them be a passing team. So, dictate means whatever our opponent feels the most comfortable making them think about doing something different.”

“When I say we don’t change our philosophy, it doesn’t matter who we play. There are systematic things that we do defensively that will never change . . It doesn’t matter if we’re playing zone, it doesn’t matter if pressing, it doesn’t matter if we’re in man half-court or full court. Systematically. There are things that we teach that we just won’t change.”

“We try to not be put in scram situations a lot. We try to take pride in guarding our yard, guarding the first three dribbles. We feel like if you could guard the first two to three dribbles, you could keep someone in front of you. And there’s a way we work on it. We have defensive vitamins we work on every single day just to keep everybody sharp.”

“it’s a true challenge for us against five-out motion teams because they’re going to spread you out, and we don’t want to give up the three, but at the same time, we don’t want you to make an easy layup either.”

“I’m incredibly disciplined on the defensive end. But offensively, I let them loose. We play advantage basketball. We try to figure out ways for our players to get to their kill spots and to be confident and score so they know, if they just can defend at the highest level, then offensively they have freedom.”

“We attack, we’re aggressive. And that is something that we take pride in . . And that’s why I don’t want a narrative that we’re out here playing bully basketball. That’s not what we’re doing. We’re just [going] to play incredibly hard, and that’s what we take pride in.”

“Our secret sauce to post defense is the person guarding the ball. So if there’s a ball that gets clean inside, you’ll hear our players say, when we watch film, ‘That was on me. I didn’t do enough to take away the vision for the passer.’”

“We first start with statistical data. So, in the summer, my analytics guys have statistics from practice. We don’t wait for a box score during the game. They [the players] know their box scores in the course of training camp. We call preseason practice ‘training camp.’”

“Anson Dorrance, his philosophy was, he wanted to get his players to the truth as quickly as possible, because he felt like if he could get his young women to the truth, then the beauty happens. And so that’s one of the things I focus on with our team . . I try to get them to the truth of their truth . . ‘I know someone told you you’re good at this, but you’re not really good at this. You’re good at this.’  So, while that hurts your feelings, let’s get at what you’re good at. You’re good at this. Let’s go ahead and figure this out. Let’s be great at this.”

“We have twelve standards that we have and one of them is accountability. If you mess up, fess up.  We’re all grown, you’re not going to get a spanking. No one’s perfect. We try to normalize that in our program. There’s no perfect.”

“The best of the best have sustainability. And so that is something that I want to continue to do, be able to sustain a level of high success.”

“My mission is to teach, develop and inspire . . since being in the business now 20 years, going on my 12th season as a head coach, I’ve learned that means anybody that I come into contact with, not just my players, but also other colleagues in the business. And I take pride in being an avid learner.”

Yolett McPhee-McCuin Breakdown:

1:00 – Defense and Adaptability

8:00 – Defensive Strategies for 3 Point Shots

15:00 – Defensive Techniques

18:00 – Embracing Physicality

23:00 – Defending Ball Screens

28:30 – Freedom on Offense

34:00 – Exploit Defensive Weaknesses

36:30 – Data Analysis and Practice Management

43:00 – Maintaining Standards

48:00 – Mentorships in Women’s Basketball

Yolett McPhee-McCuin Selected Links from the Podcast:

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