Duluth, GA -- There’s an old axiom that states, "Great things in life come in the small packages." And even though Ole Miss (12-21) lost 70-54 to Auburn (18-13), the Rebels’ diminutive guard -- who is 5-foot-4 with heels on -- proved that adage to be true.
Over the past two nights of the SEC tournament, if one would ask, "Who is the tournament MVP?" One could make a strong argument that McFarland deserves it – and no one could disagree. She by far has been the most impressive player at the tournament.
McFarland said something the other night after their upset of Arkansas, "We’re not done yet."
Got that right! They weren’t.
And the reason they weren’t done was because of her huge will to win.
"Valencia McFarland, her record won't indicate the impact she's made on our program," said Ole Miss coach Matt Insell. "Just an incredible, incredible player, one of the best point guards to ever play in this league. She's put numbers up since she was a freshman and done unbelievable things.
"I feel real special to be able to coach her."
The Rebels entire offense begins, ends, and starts with her again.
McFarland on Lieberman Award watch list
McFarland's performance in her senior year has landed her a spot on the Nancy Lieberman Award finalists list. We compared her numbers to other point guards earlier this year.
The things she’s asked to do would wear on the average player, but it’s obvious that she’s not only above average; she’s used to carrying a huge load. Whether it’s handling constant full court pressure, logging long minutes, double teams, traps and bigger opponents, McFarland always rose to the challenge.
Against the favored Razorbacks Wednesday night, McFarland’s savviness was on full display, all while playing the entire game.
She’s the conductor to a train, the pilot of the plane, simply put: she was their EVERYTHING. Ole Miss came into this tournament as the team that didn’t belong; the worst of the worse, but McFarland’s leadership put an end to any early swan song into the night.
Fast forward to last night where the odds were stacked against her Rebels, she didn’t even flinch.
Against Auburn and their formidable full-court defensive pressure, she had 20 points…at halftime. Ponder that for a second: the tiniest player on the floor had 55% of her team’s points. And it wasn’t as if the Tigers were playing matador defense - they just had no answer.
"Valencia McFarland is a very good point guard," said Auburn coach Terri Williams-Flournoy. "We tried to do as much as we can. At the end of the day she's still good and she's still going to get hers."
McFarland scored on short threes, long threes, midrange pull-ups, and layups in the teeth of the Tigers' defense. It was as if Auburn had one equation on an exam, and they just couldn’t solve it.
Mind you the Rebels were a 14 seed coming into this tournament, and yet they upset one team and almost pulled off another. With 9:52 in the first half and an 11 point lead against the Tigers, it looked like Cinderella was going to get another dance.
However, the "little engine that could" finally had no mileage left to give. Fatigue set in, as she played essentially every minute over the course of 48 hours. And even though her career at Ole Miss came to an end, she clearly left a legacy that many in Oxford will always remember.
"(I’m) proud of Valencia for her leadership and her will to fight every single day," said Insell. "She has a bright future in the game of basketball."
McFarland is a crown jewel in this senior class, and sometimes it takes some serious digging to find a diamond. Just like the Tulsa Shock found that diamond in Kansas' Angel Goodrich in the 2013 WNBA Draft, if some team takes McFarland, they will find the same in her – and more.
For more on WNBA prospects, check out our 2014 WNBA Draft prospect watch storystream.