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Rick Insell

Head Coach

Women's Basketball
Office: 615-898-2968
Fax: 615-898-5626

Email: rinsell@mtsu.edu

Mailing Address:
Box 424
Murfreesboro, TN 37132

Click here for career highlights

There has been no other coach in Middle Tennessee women’s basketball that produced the success that Rick Insell has done in nine seasons. Since his arrival to Middle Tennessee in 2005, he has led the Raiders to eight NCAA Tournament appearances, coached five All-Americans and grew three WNBA Draft picks during his tenure. In his nine years, the five-time hall of fame inductee has established a track record unlike any other in the Blue Raiders’ rich women’s basketball history, while also creating lofty expectations by taking the program to the next level.

When Insell was introduced as the seventh head coach in program history in May 2005, he told a packed house that his hire proves “dreams come true,” during his press conference. “I’m a coach and it’s all I’ve ever done, from elementary to junior high to junior pro, AAU and high school,” Insell said at the press conference. “To be able to come on board at Middle Tennessee, that’s a dream come true. It says if you stay in there long enough and dream big enough, one day it will eventually happen.”

Insell enters his 10th season in 2014-15 with a remarkable 228-67 (.772) ledger, collecting more wins than any other coach in school history. With MT’s 60-39 victory at South Alabama on January 5, 2013, Insell surpassed Lewis Biven’s as the program’s winningest coach. His winning percentage of .772 ranks eighth among active NCAA Division I coaches. . On March 5, 2014, Insell secured his 1,000th career win, which includes his 775 victories at nearby Shelbyville Central High School.

His 100th victory came in the 2009 Sun Belt Tournament Championship game, as the Blue Raiders clinched the title over UALR. Insell also amassed an impressive Sun Belt ledger, posting a 142-18 (.888) mark during his tenure, including the league’s last undefeated marks of 16-0 in 2011-12 and a 18-0 mark during the 2006-07 campaign. In eight Sun Belt Tournament appearances, he has lost just three times in 22 tries. During the regular season against conference opponents, Middle Tennessee has won the last 53 out of the last 55 inside the historic Murphy Center.

Middle Tennessee is consistently ranked among the top-25 programs nationally in attendance; an average of 4,829 turned out for the 13 home games this past season to rank No. 19 in the country.

He has collected seven regular-season championships (six in the Sun Belt and one in Conference USA) and six tournament titles (five in the SBC and one in C-USA) to his mantle. The six tournament crowns have led to NCAA Tournament appearances, and with two at-large NCAA selections (2010-11, 2011-12) and a Postseason WNIT berth in 2008, have put Insell-led teams in the postseason in each of his nine seasons.

Middle Tennessee has won at least 20 contests in each of his nine years, including a school-record 30 during the 2006-07 campaign, which saw it own the nation’s longest winning streak at 27 games and not losing for over 100 days. The 20-game winning streak in 2011-12 was the second longest in program history, as the top-four runs have come under his watch and each been at least 16 games. In 2013-14 his team strung together a 17-game win streak and finished the year with 29 victories, ranking second-most in program history.

Insell has also been the coach for three WNBA selections during his seven seasons, including most recently Alysha Clark, who was chosen 17th overall by the San Antonio Silver Stars in the 2010 Draft. She joined Amber Holt, selected ninth overall by the Connecticut Sun in 2008, and Chrissy Givens, picked 31st overall by the Phoenix Mercury in 2007.

The Blue Raiders were one of just 13 programs nationally to produce at least one player in three of the four WNBA Drafts from 2007-10, joining Connecticut, Stanford, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Baylor, Texas A&M, Duke, Maryland, Virginia, Georgia, Purdue and Vanderbilt.

The trio also comprises the beginning of the All-American list in school history, starting with Givens in 2007 and Holt a year later. Clark became the first player in the MT record books to garner All-America accolades in more than one season when she collected honors in 2009 and 2010. Most recently, Ebony Rowe was tabbed a Freshman All-American, becoming the first player in school history to receive the nod, in 2011. Rowe was named Honorable Mention All-American by the Associated Press and the WBCA in 2012-13 and 2013-14.

Middle Tennessee also produced the nation’s leading scorer in three-consecutive seasons, the longest run in NCAA women’s basketball history with Clark topping the country in 2009 and 2010 and Holt serving as the pace setter in 2008. Clark’s back-to-back reign made her just the third women’s basketball player in NCAA history to accomplish the feat and the first in almost a decade.

Through the conclusion of the 2009-10 campaign, Insell had tutored a player in the nation’s top 10 in scoring during the last 99 NCAA reporting periods, dating back to January 18, 2007. Since taking the reins of the program through 2009-10, Insell placed a player in the top 10 114 times in 121 reporting dates, with 85 of the 114 among the top five. Clark (935 points in 2009) and Holt (930 points in 2008) currently rank fifth and sixth, respectively, on the NCAA’s single-season scoring list.

As a team, Middle Tennessee has ranked among the national leaders in scoring offense and steals per game in each of Insell’s seven seasons. The Blue Raiders have placed as high as second in the country for 3-pointers made per game, while Kortni Jones earned the same ranking two years after hitting a single-season school and Sun Belt record 115 from behind the arc. Her total placed her in the top 10 all-time in NCAA history. Jones’ 257 triples made her the best three-point shooter in program history and second all-time in the Sun Belt.

Middle Tennessee has earned a national reputation for not being afraid to play any opponent. Anyone. Anywhere. Anytime. That is the mantra Insell and his program employ and may be one of his biggest impacts on the program. His program has played many top programs including Tennessee, Penn State, Virginia, Minnesota, Arizona, Indiana, Alabama, Kentucky, Arkansas, Georgia Tech, Xavier, USF, James Madison, Kansas State, St. Bonaventure, UNC Wilmington, South Dakota State, Clemson, Miami (FL) and Mississippi State.

In 2013-14, the Blue Raiders picked up the most wins over power-six schools, knocking off Miami, Mississippi State, UCF, USF and Clemson. The Raiders welcomed Tennessee in front of the second largest crowd of 11,227. MT then hosted Kennesaw State for Education Day, welcoming 10,028 fans to the Glass house.

Middle Tennessee made its first trip to Baton Rouge, La., to face LSU in 2008-09 and defeated the Tigers for the second-straight campaign. On Dec. 28, 2007, the Blue Raiders pulled off one of the biggest upsets in the nation, defeating then-No. 8 LSU inside the Murphy Center, 67-56, in front of the third-largest crowd in school history (7,858). The squad has also knocked off then-No. 8 Georgia on the road, 70-62, during the 2006-07 season and welcomed defending national champion and preseason No. 1 Maryland to the historic Murphy Center for the 2006-07 season opener.

Middle Tennessee has won the Sun Belt Tournament five times in his eight seasons, advancing to the NCAA Tournament each time. In 2007, the Blue Raiders earned their first NCAA Tournament victory under his guidance with a First Round triumph over Gonzaga. In 2006, MT faced Utah. In 2009, Middle Tennessee battled Michigan State before they faced Mississippi State in 2010. In 2011, MT garnered the second at-large bid in program history and faced Georgia during the First Round. The team was fortunate enough to collect a second-straight at-large berth in 2012 and remained close to home, playing in Nashville at Vanderbilt. MT played at Louisville in 2012 and this past season took on Oregon State in Seattle.

The 2007-08 campaign saw the Blue Raiders playing in the Postseason WNIT, defeating Western Carolina in the opening round before falling in overtime at Kentucky.

Insell believes the tough non-conference scheduling prepares the team well for postseason action and allows his players to travel into hostile environments without fear.

Middle Tennessee has reached the top 25 rankings four times under his watch, including the first preseason ranking in school history with a No. 24 listing by the Associated Press prior to 2009-10. His team remained steady in the polls in 2013-14, reaching as high as 20th in the USA Today Coaches poll and 21st in the Associated Press Poll.

The highest ranking in school history came during the 2006-07 campaign, when the Lady Raiders reached an unprecedented height of No. 16 in both the Associated Press and coaches polls.

No other program in Sun Belt history won more regular-season conference games over a four-year span than Insell’s Blue Raiders. MT has captured 66 wins during the four-year stretch from 2006-07 to 2009-10, setting a new conference mark and bettering its own league mark and topping the Louisiana Tech teams from 1997-98 to 2000-01.

This past season, the Blue Raiders produced a 29-5 record and a 15-1 mark in their first year in Conference USA. The Raiders won the regular season and conference titles en route to the schools’ 17th NCAA Tournament appearance. Ebony Rowe finished her illustrious career as the school’s all-time leading scorer. She set numerous school records en route to C-USA Player of the Year honors. Meanwhile, Murfreesboro native Olivia Jones grabbed C-USA Freshman of the Year accolades for her outstanding rookie campaign. The Blue Raiders made a school-record sixth straight NCAA Tournament appearance.

In 2012-13, Insell guided his team to a 25-8 record and a 17-3 mark in SBC action as the Raiders clinched another Sun Belt regular season title. MT also won its seven Sun Belt Tournament title.

Rowe and Jones earned SBC first team honors, while Icelyn Elie grabbed second team accolades. Rowe was named AP and WBCA Honorable Mention All-American, while setting numerous records and moving up the record books. Most notably, Rowe became the first MT women’s player and only the second player in school history to score 1,000 points and record 1,000 rebounds in a career. Jones, who reached the 1,000-point club, became the school’s all-time three-point leader and earned a spot in the prestigious State Farm 3-point Championship in Atlanta, Ga. Elie reached the top-10 charts in all-time rebounds, while becoming the 28th 1,000-point scorer at MT.

In 2011-12, he molded a squad that had lost just one senior into a 16-0 Sun Belt regular-season mark, and was awarded as the Sun Belt Coach of the Year by his peers for the third time in his tenure. Only two programs in the last 20 years of the conference have earned undefeated league records: Middle Tennessee and Louisiana Tech. And the Blue Raiders own the last two to set the standard. Highlighting the year was a 70-58 home win over No. 6 Kentucky, arguably the biggest triumph in school history.

Jones and Rowe were voted to the All-Sun Belt First Team, while Elie put together her best season-to-date with a Second Team selection. All three players also garnered All-Sun Belt Tournament Team accolades. Rowe joined the school’s 1,000-point club in the regular-season finale at Western Kentucky, becoming just the second of the 26-member group to accomplish the feat by the end of her sophomore season. She added four more Sun Belt Player of the Week nods, raising the team’s total to 21 in the last four seasons.

The 2010-11 campaign may have been one of his more impressive coaching jobs, as he guided a squad featuring 11 sophomores and freshmen to the Sun Belt East Division title for the third-consecutive year despite many preseason predictors indicating otherwise. Senior Anne Marie Lanning, who became the 25th member of the school’s 1,000-point club on her way to earning All-Sun Belt First Team accolades, led Middle Tennessee. Rowe, in addition to becoming the first player in school history to receive Freshman All-America honors, was picked as the league’s Freshman of the Year and joined Lanning on the First Team. Rowe also set a Sun Belt record for freshmen with four conference player of the week plaudits.

The 2009-10 Middle Tennessee squad, led by a veteran core of five seniors, four of whom each scored at least 1,000 points in their Blue Raider careers, finished 25-6 and reached the NCAA Tournament after Clark netted the game-winning basket against UALR in overtime with 1.8 seconds left in the SBC final. The four players scoring their 1,000th point in the same season made Middle Tennessee just the sixth team in NCAA women’s basketball history to accomplish the feat. Insell led his team to a 28-6 record in 2008-09, and he captured his second Sun Belt Coach of the Year award along the way. He previously was named the league’s best following the 2006-07 campaign.

The Blue Raiders participated in the 2008 Preseason WNIT and matched a school record with a 15-1 (.938) mark inside the Murphy Center. The Blue Raiders won 18 in a row at one point, with all but one of the conference wins being by double-digit margins. In 2007-08, the Holt-led team finished 22-12, including 14-4 in the Sun Belt. The previous season, Insell guided the Blue Raiders to a 30-4 record and their fourth-straight NCAA Tournament appearance and Sun Belt Tournament title, tying school records for both achievements. During Insell’s first year on the bench, 2005-06, MT posted a 20-11 (10-4 SBC) mark.

Insell’s system churns out top scorers, including the top-four single-season leaders in school history: Clark, 935 (2008-09); Holt, 930 (2007-08); Clark, 824 (2009-10) and Givens, 768 (2006-07). With the addition of Clark, Brandi Brown, Chelsia Lymon and Jackie Pickel to the 1,000-point club in 2009-10, the group now includes 27 former and one current Middle Tennessee greats.

His mark has also been noticed on the recruiting trail. His first class ranked No. 10 nationally and included 2010 graduates Brown, Lymon and Pickel. The 2009-10 five-player class, all hailing from Tennessee, was rated as high as No. 27 by ESPN HoopGurlz and No. 38 by Blue Star Basketball’s Chris Mennig.

He also paired with former Riverdale High School coach Micheal Burt in co-authoring The Anatomy of Winning - How to REWIRE People to Win. The book was released March 1, 2009, as the Blue Raiders closed the regular season with a home victory against Western Kentucky on Comcast/Charter Sports Southeast (CSS).

A 1977 Middle Tennessee graduate, Insell built a high school girl’s basketball dynasty at nearby Shelbyville Central High School, just a 30-minute drive from the MT campus. He guided the Golden Eaglettes to a record 10 Tennessee Secondary Schools Athletic Association (TSSAA) Class 3A state championships and two USA Today national championships (1989, 1991), compiling a sparkling 775-148 (84.0 percent) ledger during his 28-year tenure.

He was named the USA Today National High School Coach of the Year following both national titles and was also tabbed the Converse National High School Coach of the Year in 1990 and 1992. A name synonymous with high school girl’s basketball in the state, Insell’s teams hold the Tennessee state records for consecutive wins (110), consecutive state titles with four (1989-92) and most state championships for a coach with 10 (1986-89-90-91-92-95-2000-01-03-04). The 110 straight triumphs are seventh in the national record books.

His 1991 Golden Eaglette squad was selected as the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame Team of the Year, the first high school team to be recognized.

Insell was elected to the National High School Hall of Fame in February 2007 and was one of 12 members of the 2007 class. He is one of only six Tennesseans, including just the fourth coach, elected to the hall of fame.

He was voted the 2010 recipient of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame’s Morgan Wootten Award for Lifetime Achievement for High School Girls’ Basketball, an award he was presented with by Wootten personally at the McDonald’s All-American Game festivities in late March 2010 in Columbus, Ohio.

A fourth career hall of fame honor was bestowed upon him this past year, as it was announced in December 2011 he would be one of 10 inductees of the 2012 class into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. The annual banquet and reception was held in May 2012 in Nashville. Shelbyville Central won 23 district championships, 16 regional titles and appeared in the Class 3A state championship game a remarkable 15 times during his career at the school. He developed six Tennessee Class 3A Miss Basketball award recipients, 15 high school All-Americans and 57 of his players either received athletic or academic scholarships to continue their careers at the collegiate level.

Insell earned his fifth hall of fame induction on May 9, 2013. He was enshrined into the Cannon Courier Hall of Fame which honors former athletes and individuals that have lived in Cannon County and made a significant contribution to the area.

The Woodbury, Tenn., native’s first hall of fame honor came in 2003 when he was elected to the TSSAA Hall of Fame. His 775 career victories at Shelbyville Central ranks him 20th in the nation and sixth in the state in the all-time high school charts.

Additionally, Insell’s Shelbyville Central team received a special invitation to the Oval Office from President George H. W. Bush for its academic and athletic achievement. His teams have also been honored in the United States Senate and House of Representatives, the Tennessee State Senate and House of Representatives and by two Tennessee governors.

On the court success is not the only concern of Insell, as he has made sure his players get the job done in the classroom as well. His Shelbyville Central teams received the TSSAA Distinguished Award for Academic Success from 1989-to-2000, an award based on team grade point average. The lowest cumulative GPA during that timeframe was 3.4 and the highest was 3.98.

Insell’s success during his time at Shelbyville Central was not limited to high school. He won three AAU national championships (1988, 1998 and 2004). He was the first coach of the Kodak High School All-American Game in 1992 and served as coach of the South Team at the 2002 Olympic Festival, the first Youth Development Festival by USA Basketball.

Insell is married to the former Deborah Spry of Woodbury, Tenn. The couple has three sons - Tom, Kyle and Matt. Tom is married to the former Sarah Stewart of Shelbyville and they have two daughters, Carter and Caroline and one son Charley. Matt is currently the head women’s basketball coach at the University of Mississippi.