North Texas Daily

After a 3-6 start, women’s basketball needs a resurgence to save its season

After a 3-6 start, women’s basketball needs a resurgence to save its season

December 13
13:29 2016

Nine games into the 2016 season, the North Texas women’s basketball team is still trying to find its footing.

With a month of the season gone, the Mean Green hold a record of 3-6. Head coach Jalie Mitchell has started 10 different players and thrown out six different starting lineups.

Now, in a year where this roster was expected to almost completely resurrect the women’s basketball program, concerns have crept in.

“I think it’s all a part of growing pains and trying to find the chemistry and find the right mix of players on the court at one time,” Mitchell said. “We’ve been working on, as a team, the foul trouble, taking care of the ball and rebounding. Those are our three main things in practice.”

The last time North Texas finished close to the .500 plateau was in 2012 when they went 15-16. Since this year’s team was highly touted and drew similar comparisons, I am using the 2012 squad as a baseline for some statistical analysis.

Foul trouble:

Defending without fouling is essential to being a good defense at any level of basketball. Fouling puts teams at the free throw line, and mostly happens when players are undisciplined.

The 2012 team fouled 18.74 times per game — which is not great — but only allowed 13 free throws per game. This means the fouls were being aggressive on the perimeter and not near the hoop.

In contrast, this year’s squad has fouled 21.77 times per game. Opponents are averaging 21.55 free throws per contest, meaning they are not doing an adequate job keeping defenders in front of them and help is usually late, leading to a foul on the shot.

The Mean Green allow their opponents to shoot 44.5 percent from the field, which has led to lopsided losses. The free throws allowed number will need to drop in a hurry for this team to start playing better defense.

“We’re going to have to have people adjusting to the referees and adjusting to what they’re calling and not getting in foul trouble,” Mitchell said. “They’re going to have to take some responsibility for being able to stay out there.”

Taking care of the ball:

Turnovers drive coaches crazy, but this year’s team has not been terribly sloppy with the ball. North Texas averages 19 turnovers per game, which is not ideal, especially when most of the time they unforced errors. Comparatively, however, the 2012 team turned it over 20 times per game, so this is not as staggering as the other two points of emphasis.

The only concern is, in the last two games, against the University of the Incarnate Word and Indiana University, the Mean Green have allowed a total of 48 points off of turnovers.

Protecting the rock will help them on both ends of the court.

“[Offensively] we just have to move without the ball,” senior guard Candice Adams said. “Set screens for each other, and exchange on the opposite side of the ball.” 

North Texas guard sophomore guard Tyara Warren (1) dribbles against Indiana. Colin Mitchell

North Texas guard sophomore guard Tyara Warren (1) dribbles against Indiana. Colin Mitchell

Rebounding:

This always seems to be at the top of Mitchell’s list in terms of importance, and now it’s obvious why. She wants this team to be a “great” rebounding team, and for whatever reason, they just are not there yet.

The 2012 team out-rebounded teams 41-35 on average — this year’s team gets out-rebounded 38-31 on average through nine games.

The 2012 team grabbed 68 percent of the available defensive rebounds — this year’s team only grabs 62 percent.

And finally, the 2012 squad brought down an offensive rebound 40.2 percent of the time — this year’s team, however, only cleans the offensive glass 30 percent of the time.

Rebounding is a real issue with this team and it does not entirely fall on the posts and centers to claim the loose balls. Boxing out and hustling is a team effort, and the backcourt is just as important as the frontcourt.

“[Rebounding] is something that we’ve been focusing on,” sophomore guard Terriell Bradley said. “In our past games and past practices, it’s been our main focus.”

Second quarter woes:

In addition to the three aforementioned issues by Mitchell, there is an additional point that seems to be a lingering and reeking havoc. North Texas struggles to “put the ball in the hole,” as Mitchell would say, in the second quarter.

In nine second quarters this year, the team has not scored more than 13 points. They average under 11 points during that 10-minute stretch, nearly four points less than the first quarter, six less than the third, and almost eight less than the fourth.

Occasionally there will be foul trouble and Mitchell will need to save starters for the second half, but that was not the case against a winless Incarnate Word where they only scored 11 before halftime.

It’s a weird, arbitrary and partially random trend, but having a lull in a whole quarter in every game is a concern regardless of the reasoning.

“I’m hoping this is not a thing,” Mitchell said after the Incarnate Word game. “[But] it looks like a thing right now. And today it wasn’t a substitution issue because we weren’t in foul trouble.”

Time for a turnaround:

Despite their shortcomings so far, the Mean Green still have a wealth of talent and a trio of senior leaders, along with a dynamic scorer in Bradley, capable of leading a turnaround. Mitchell specifically believed the seniors along with their leading scorer will be primary pieces in ultimately winning games.

“I think it’s important for [Kelsey Criner] to be at a high level of play,” Mitchell said. “And I think the same for Terriell Bradley. I think she’s getting her confidence back in practice and I fully expect her to be back to normal pretty soon.”

As Mitchell stated, how well this team rebounds and defends will ultimately determine just how good this team is. On paper, they appear to be a contender in Conference USA. But with a 3-6 record, North Texas has put themselves behind the proverbial eight ball.

And some, like Bradley, do not believe their record is indicative of their true potential.

“I don’t think our record reflects how talented and how good we are,” Bradley said after the Indiana game. “We just have to move on.”

About Author

Matthew Brune

Matthew Brune

Matthew Brune is the Senior Sports Writer for the North Texas Daily, covering football and men's basketball.

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