Brown feels optimistic in Oxford

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 17, 2003

There may be no better way in America to humble oneself than to suit up on an inexperienced team and play a season in the rigorous world of women’s basketball in the Southeastern Conference.

Franklin County product Carletta Brown and the Ole Miss Lady Rebels did just that this past season &045; so humbling it led to the dismissal of head coach Ron Aldy after they trudged through a 1-13 campaign in the SEC.

But that all may have changed. Ole Miss welcomed Carol Ross to Oxford just after season’s end to be head coach in hopes of turning things around.

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So let the optimism begin.

&uot;We had our first individual workouts (last week), and they went really well,&uot; said Brown, a sophomore starting point guard. &uot;We’re kind of excited. I like her. She’s a good coach, I think. She’s very optimistic &045; optimistic about everything. Everything she says is positive.&uot;

That may be a slight understatement based on the splash she made to the media following her hiring. Ross, a former Lady Rebel who was head coach at Florida for 12 seasons, jumped at the opportunity to return to Oxford in hopes of jump-starting a program she starred for during the 1980s.

&uot;Hotty toddy and buckle up because we are real excited,&uot; Ross said. &uot;If you had asked if this would happen a month ago, I would have probably told you, ‘Absolutely not.’ Sometimes when opportunity comes, you have to make a decision. This was a no-brainer for me.&uot;

What Ross inherits is a squad that took its lumps this past season. The Lady Rebels’ lone win came against Florida in Oxford in the conference opener.

Florida, however, returned the favor in Gainesville while the Lady Rebels took it on the chin a few times in between &045; 96-54 at Georgia, 86-43 at Tennessee and 91-68 against South Carolina.

&uot;I think we were young,&uot; Brown said. &uot;When our fans in the stands at the SEC tournament looked on the court, we had two freshmen, two sophomore and one junior. We fought hard and never gave up, but we just couldn’t win. When you look at our conference, Tennessee, LSU and all the teams right on top have a lot of senior leadership. Being in a tough conference and being young is hard &045; very hard.&uot;

At least the young teams have that much coming back, and Brown is part of a team that has everyone but one player returning. She will also return playing point guard after she started 26 of 28 games and ended the season averaging 8.8 points and 2.9 assists per game.

Ross now has to sift through that talent and find what best suits the team next season. The team relied heavily on junior center Amber Watts, the top scorer at 13.1 points per game.

&uot;Our strength will probably be transition,&uot; she said. &uot;Right now we’re not big at all, and I think coach said she’ll bring in two more post players. She’s recruited one post, but she’s 5-9. She’ll try to get more height, and we’ll try to get it and go, run and gun or whatever you want to call it.&uot;

Adam Daigle

is sports editor of The Natchez Democrat. You can reach him at (601) 445-3632 or by e-mail at