North Texas Daily

Women’s basketball enters season with chip on shoulder

Women’s basketball enters season with chip on shoulder

November 05
03:36 2015

Brady Keane | Staff Writer

@BradyKeane3

Between being one of two teams to not make the Conference-USA tournament and the firing of head coach Mike Petersen, the 2014-2015 season was one to forget for the Mean Green women’s basketball team.

But the team is entering a new era under new head coach Jalie Mitchell, who said she aims to bring pride, passion, resilience, discipline and excellence back to a struggling program.

“All of those things are motivation on a daily basis to get to where we need to be as a team,” Mitchell said. “I hope they wake up thinking about it every day just like I do.”

Mitchell is the all-time leading scorer in school history and is returning to her alma mater after the Mean Green finished its past season with a 5-24 record. North Texas has twice as many losses, 124, as wins, 57, dating back to the 2009-2010 season.

But despite the recent struggles, Mitchell does not feel as though the rebuilding process will be lengthy. Since taking over in April, Mitchell has begun to change both the mindset and the culture of the team.

“I think the first step has been to move forward,” Mitchell said. “We don’t talk a lot about previous seasons at all, and I think that’s important to leave that behind and focus on what we can do going forward.”

Heading into this season, the Mean Green was picked to finish last in Conference USA by the league’s coaches in October. However, Mitchell has been in a similar situation at North Texas before.

As an assistant coach under former head coach Karen Aston during the 2011-2012 season, Mitchell helped turn a five-win team into a 15-win team in less than a year.

North Texas guard Candice Adams (14) looks for an open teammate against UTEP last season. Ryan Vance | Senior Staff Photographer

North Texas guard Candice Adams (14) looks for an open teammate against UTEP last season. Ryan Vance | Senior Staff Photographer

“This is not a place that I am foreign to,” Mitchell said. “Been there, done that, and I’m excited. We have more talent as far as weapons are concerned, and we have to play with a chip on our shoulder.”

One challenge many new coaching staffs face is getting the players to adjust into an entirely new system as quickly as possible. But so far, Mitchell is comfortable with how the Mean Green have bought into her program.

“We have a coaching staff that is pushing us to the greatest of our ability and our potential,” junior guard Candice Adams said. “The progress is growing, and it’s definitely positive.”

After averaging a C-USA worst 51.8 points per game last season, the Mean Green will turn towards an up-tempo offensive approach that Mitchell feels will play to the strengths of the team. The offense will run behind the play of Adams, who is the highest returning scorer from last season following the graduation of BreAnna Dawkins and Briesha Wynn.

Defensively, the team returns its leading rebounder from last season, senior Acheil Tac, who was also the fifth highest scorer with 5.7 points per game. But the Mean Green will be missing last year’s third best rebounder and fourth highest scorer, Eboniey Jeter.

The former forward was found dead in her dorm room in May, with the death later being ruled as a suicide. But despite losing a handful of significant contributors from last year’s squad, the returning players have confidence in the new regime.

“I believe in this team, this program, and this staff,” Tac said. “They came in here with the attitude of changing the culture, and I can actually feel the change each day. I feel like we’re working towards something great.”

As a part of the changing culture, Mitchell has emphasized the importance of consistency. Last season the Mean Green held late game leads in several games down the stretch, but was unable to finish with a victory.

“Being consistent with our effort, being consistent with what we teach, being consistent with what we get out of them, we are going to do it until we get it right,” Mitchell said. “That is important, to win the day and get more out of practice each day.”

As far as expectations are concerned, the Mean Green is looking to prove voters who picked the team to finish last in the conference wrong. North Texas will kick off the 2015 season with a scrimmage at the Super Pit against Texas Woman’s University Saturday, Nov. 7, before taking on The University of San Francisco at home Friday, Nov. 13.

“Those expectations are to not be last,” Mitchell said. “Those expectations are to show and prove everyday that we are not last. That is not something that we believe about ourselves, and that’s not something that we want to show the world.”

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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