North Texas Daily

Women’s basketball adjusting to shallow roster, new rules for 2015-2016 season

Women’s basketball adjusting to shallow roster, new rules for 2015-2016 season

November 25
14:31 2015

Alex Lessard | Staff Writer


With an opportunity to make school history and become head coach, Jalie Mitchell earned her first win against Oklahoma University last week, and the Mean Green women’s basketball team nearly ran out of options.

Four players are redshirted or ineligible, and two are out for the season due to injuries, leaving the Mean Green with just nine active players for each game. However, the team will be adding an unnamed walk-on that will be immediately eligible to play during the spring semester.

The lack of depth down the roster has created a unique strategical conundrum for North Texas.

“Other people might be afraid, but I think that’s something we talk about as a team,” Mitchell said. “We talk about the fact that we have nine players. We talk about the fact that we can’t get into foul trouble and put ourselves in bad situations.”

Against OU, the only three active forwards all fouled out of the game, leaving Mitchell with a five-guard lineup to compete against a physically opposing front line to close out the program’s first-ever victory over a ranked opponent. The Mean Green pulled off the upset, but not without plenty of nerves, and the depleted roster would come back to haunt the team in the end.

Junior guard Terra Ellison, who stands at 5’11, was forced to play center down the stretch, guarding an Oklahoma roster that featured six players over 6 feet tall, including two post players who each stood at 6’4.

“Although she might have thought twice about it, she held it down and did an excellent job,” Mitchell said. “I’m really proud of her and really proud of the team for having her back as well, the guards making sure they helped her whenever needed, and we were able to finish.”

To help out, the rest of the guards on the floor collapsed into the paint on drives and post-ups to combat their size disadvantages and prevent the Sooners from taking the lead. Although playing outside her comfort zone was a valuable experience, junior guard Candice Adams said the game reminded the team to be more careful and disciplined when it comes to fouling.

“Guards really aren’t used to playing bigs like that, especially OU’s bigs,” Adams said. “It’s something that we definitely work on if we’re in that situation to front the post. I think it just came down to being hungry and being more determined to not get scored on and to handle your business.”

This year’s change from two 20-minute game halves to four 10-minute quarters has played a big role in the overall consequences of early fouls. Instead of having six fouls to give each period until teams are automatically sent to the free throw line for a one-and-one, teams only have four fouls to commit per quarter before giving an opponent two free throws.

“It’s been a problem for the post players mostly,” senior forward Acheil Tac said. “We have to play smarter, keep our hands off and move our feet. If we do that stuff early, we won’t get in foul trouble early. We can save those fouls toward the end.”

The frequency of game stoppages has also been an adjustment for the women’s team. Although the extra quarter breaks give teams added recovery time, media timeouts now occur in five-minute intervals, forcing teams to play through longer stretches of action without any sort of rest.

While Mitchell said this hasn’t had an effect on the team’s conditioning intensity or substitution strategy, she has noticed players getting tired more quickly.

“Before, you’re playing four-minute games. Now you’re essentially playing five-minute games,” Mitchell said. “With four, we were already drawing the line with kind of getting tired and needing a break. Now with five kind of drawing that out, I think it’s a different adjustment for kids.”

Even with a shallow roster and major rule changes, Adams and the rest of the starters haven’t minded playing extra minutes when needed. The team prides itself on playing with maximum energy at all times, something Adams said will be even more beneficial with a full roster at hand.

“We could definitely get a little bit more breathing time, a little more rest time,” Adams said. “We have to rely on timeouts and use these media [timeouts] to our advantage. When everyone’s fully healthy, everyone can play to their max potential.”

Featured Image: North Texas guard Candice Adams (14) drives the ball down court against Western Kentucky last season. Ryan Vance | Senior Staff Photographer

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