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Womens basketball’s turnaround shows potential to compete for top spots in C-USA

Womens basketball’s turnaround shows potential to compete for top spots in C-USA

Womens basketball’s turnaround shows potential to compete for top spots in C-USA
January 23
21:59 2019

After going 11 straight seasons without a winning record, the 2017-18 North Texas Mean Green women’s basketball team finally broke the .500 mark by finishing the year with a 17-14 overall record. North Texas went 6-10 in Conference USA that year.

This season, the upward trend has continued for the Mean Green, who sit at 10-7 and 3-2 in C-USA play.

However, the beginning of the season did not suggest North Texas women’s basketball was back on track. The Mean Green started off 3-5, which included two losses against Big 12 opponents in No. 12 Texas and Kansas State.

Velma Mitchell, a junior transfer from McLennan Community College, said her team knew the non-conference slate would be tough before the season started.

“We knew we were going against tough opponents,” Mitchell said. “I feel like those games made us better and made us learn both mentally and physically on what we need to do to have a successful season. It made our chemistry as teammates on and off the court better.”

A six-game winning streak dating from Dec. 16 – Jan. 10 sparked the turnaround for North Texas, the Mean Green have won eight of their last 11 games.

“This team is focused and we’re just learning every single day,” sophomore guard Trena Mims said. “We’re figuring out what every one of us can bring to the table to be able to put ourselves in positions to be successful.”

The rocky start also included a road loss to metroplex rival Southern Methodist on Nov. 28, where North Texas lost after having a 25-5 first quarter lead

Although the loss dropped their record to 3-5, head coach Jalie Mitchell said this team showed no sign of panic.

“I think we learned a lot about ourselves that day,” Mitchell said. “That was probably our best start ever and it went downhill after that. We just took away that we had to become a consistent team and play to the best of our ability each game.”

Mitchell played for North Texas from 1998-2002 and was a four-time all-conference selection, including the 2002 Sun Belt Player of the Year after averaging 19.4 points per game.

The North Texas staff and players all have wristbands that have the letters “P.R.I.D.E.” The acronym stands for Passion, Resilience, Investment, Discipline and Excellence. Mitchell said the Mean Green pride has never left from the moment it was instilled in her back when she was a freshman at North Texas in 1998.

“To me, pride was one thing I wanted to make sure the players and staff in our program had,” Mitchell said. “I know I left [North Texas] with a lot of it. I think when you have a lot of pride in what you’re doing, things mean more to you and you work hard at it. We need to bleed green.”

The winning streak and consistent play from senior guard Terriell Bradley has allowed this North Texas team to realistically think about something that has never been accomplished in program history, winning the C-USA tournament and qualifying for the NCAA Tournament.

“The NCAA tournament is exactly what we want to do and where we want to go,” head coach Jalie Mitchell said. “Our returners know the way and we know how to get it done. We just have to take one game at a time. If we don’t take one at a time, we can get ourselves into some trouble.”

Bradley, who went into Saturday’s game against Rice averaging 18.4 points per game, was sidelined earlier in the season for two games due to an aggravated foot injury. In Bradley’s absence, the Mean Green saw multiple players step up to fill the void for their leading scorer.

Mitchell said the versatility of her team is just one of the things she loves about these women and that the usefulness for being able to put any of her players on the court is a good feeling as a coach.

“Comfort and confidence, I say it all the time,” Mitchell said. “We believe that we still have what we need in order to win games without our leading scorer. I love that about us and I think we need to have that in order for us to accomplish what we want to.”

Featured Image: Junior guard Velma Mitchell passes across court at the game against Houston Baptist on Dec. 5. Image by Jordan Collard. 

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Bronte Hermesmeyer

Bronte Hermesmeyer

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