UK Women's Basketball

Assistant for UK women will be coaching against dad

On Christmas Eve, Rick Insell promised there would be no talk about the game between Kentucky and Middle Tennessee State around the family dinner table or the tree.

It would be all peace and joy under the twinkling lights.

There would be no talk about Insell's team getting ready to play host to an undefeated UK team on Monday.

There would be zero teasing of his youngest son, Matt, who is an assistant coach on the Wildcats' bench, Rick Insell promised.

"It won't be a problem because he's got a mama," the MTSU coach assured. "She doesn't want any arguing, so when we're all home, we're not allowed to talk basketball; we talk family."

That lasted all of a few minutes.

As soon as the family was in the same room, talk immediately turned to the UK-Middle game, Matt Insell said after the Christmas break.

"They love saying we haven't played anybody," Matt Insell said of his brothers, both die-hard MTSU fans. "They were like, 'You're 11-0, but you haven't played anybody.' "

Insell laughed.

"I told them they'll get to see us beat somebody firsthand," he said.

Matt couldn't escape the talk during the two days he was home in Murfreesboro.

One of his closest friends — a Middle Tennessee fan, of course — told the youngest Insell boy that all he wanted for Christmas was for the Cats to come into the Murphy Center undefeated so the Blue Raiders could be the first team to beat UK.

"He got the first part of the present," Insell said, "but he isn't getting the rest of it."

Insell was charged with making sure of it.

He has been scouting his father's team in preparation. Matt conceded that Middle Tennessee (5-4) and Alysha Clark, the nation's leading scorer at 24.8 points a game, will be the Cats' toughest challenge to date.

Matt also said it was strange scouting his father, a Tennessee high school coaching legend, who guided nearby Shelbyville Central to a record 10 state championships and two USA Today national championships.

"I know a lot of what he does," Matt said of his father, who has been at MTSU for five seasons. "I've watched it for 27 years now.

"He's been doing the same things since he coached high school; he runs the same plays, so I know a lot about his system and how he plays," Matt said. "The problem now is just trying to stop it."

Matt said he tried not to look ahead to watch film early. He's tried to treat this like any other game.

The father and son coaches talk regularly, and it inevitably comes up.

"He asks me every night if we're looking at film on him, and I say no even though we are," Rick Insell said.

The elder Insell, who is also close to UK Coach Matthew Mitchell, said the Cats will present quite a challenge.

But he likes that they're coming in undefeated.

"That should put a few more fans in the stands," he said, laughing. The Raiders usually don't have trouble with that, averaging 5,348 a game so far this season.

Matt Insell said he'd know roughly "1,000 or more" fans Monday. Some of those fans will have divided interests.

"My mom and my grandparents have said they're going to wear all blue," Matt said. "Since both teams are blue, they don't have to cheer for either of us that way."

Rick Insell said his wife, Deborah, had best be yelling for the Raiders.

"She gets her paycheck from Middle Tennessee," he said, laughing. "Her heart's pretty close to her son, but I don't think she'll be cheering for Kentucky. But her heart will be over there on the bench with him."

His brothers will have no problem picking sides, though.

"They'll probably be hollering at me the whole game," Matt said, adding that he hopes UK can continue to do what it's been doing en route to an 11-0 record.

"I don't think it's as much about pride with my Dad as it is with my brothers," Matt said. "They like to run their mouth a lot."

Notes

With a win on Monday night, UK would have the longest win streak (12 games) in program history, breaking the mark set in 1983. ... Former Kentucky All-Stars Chelsia Lymon (Scott County) and Emily Queen (Rose Hill) play for the Raiders.

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