Notch another victory for fathers coaching against their sons.
Rick Insell’s Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders never trailed Thursday night in beating his son Matt’s Mississippi Rebels 82-70 in the third round of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament.
It was the second time this season he’s beat his son.
Then again, dad had the home court advantage playing in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and his Blue Raiders scored the first seven points and shot 59 percent (28 of 47) in beating the Southeastern Conference team.
”Really Matt has just done a great job this year, and I’m just proud of him,” Rick Insell said. ”That’s what I told him after the game. It’s what I told him before the game. I’m very proud of what you’ve done, son. You’re doing a real good job, and you’re a superstar and just keep doing what you’re doing.”
Middle Tennessee (24-9) will host Temple (19-16) in the quarterfinals Sunday.
It is believed that when the Insells met the first time, a Blue Raiders’ 71-65 victory over Ole Miss in November, that it was the first father-son coaching matchup in Division I women’s basketball. Rick Insell predicts it’s going to happen more and more, especially if the Insells keep coaching.
Fathers and sons coaching against each other is nothing new to men’s college basketball.
Louisville coach Rick Pitino got his second chance to beat his son Richard in November, and some of the earliest games even featured Middle Tennessee with Ed Diddle Jr. losing 11 of 12 games against Western Kentucky teams coached by his father, Ed, between 1957 and 1962.
Dads have dominated. According to research by the Louisville Cardinals, dads have won 16 of 18 matchups against their sons.
Matt Insell missed out on making it 1-1 on the women’s side. His Rebels managed to finish 19-14 in his second season for their best finish since 2006-07 with a team that featured eight newcomers at the beginning of the season. Middle Tennessee outrebounded his Rebels 33-27, and the SEC coach also wasn’t happy at how tightly the game was officiated.
”It kills us …,” Matt Insell said. ”Again, I’m not going to say anything. I’m building a pool house. I’m going to Tampa, Florida, here in a little bit. I’m going to the Kentucky Derby here in a couple weeks. I want to have fun with that money instead of having to pay it.”
Both father and son seized on the family angle to promote a game that stands out even on the busy March tournament schedule with a big crowd expected Thursday night. Middle Tennessee even took out a full-page newspaper ad touting ”Family Feud II” and ”The Battle in the `Boro”’ for a program in the WNIT only because the Blue Raiders snapped a six-year streak of NCAA Tournament berths.
Rick Insell bought a bunch of tickets for family and friends to turn out at the Murphy Center. But knowing the coach on the other bench only went so far for Matt Insell, a Middle Tennessee graduate himself.
”It’s a great place,” Matt Insell said. ”They got a lot of history here. They got a good basketball team. The one thing that Dad does, he recruits winners. Those kids know how to win games. They may not be as talented as us, but those kids are winners and they make winning plays and they’ve been winners their whole life. They’ve won at high school, won at AAU, they won at junior high.”
And Dad may have gotten the last word in when asked if Matt Insell gets his fiery coaching approach from his father.
”His mama acts like that every night,” Rick Insell said. ”You just can’t get it out of them. What can I say?”
AP Sports Writer David Brandt contributed to this report from Mississippi.