For The Good Of The Program
Terra Ellison's Decision To Change Positions Has Both Helped The Team And Herself
DENTON — Following the end of 2015-16 season, the North Texas women’s basketball team’s head coach Jalie Mitchell sat down with her soon to be seniors to discuss the coming year.
Mitchell told her three seniors that their final year would go by in a blink of an eye. She then asked them how they wanted to end their time with the Mean Green.
Kelsey Criner said as a champion.
Candice Adams also said as a champion.
Terra Ellison said she wanted to change positions.
“I knew we had a lot of guards joining the team this year and I knew I could play at a high-level closer to the basket,” Ellison said. “I believed it was both a good move for me but most importantly it would help the team.”
Through her first two seasons in Denton, the 5-foot-11 Ellison had struggled to emerge as a dynamite player. Predominately playing at a guard or wing position, Ellison was averaging 3.5 points and 1.9 rebounds per game over that time.
But two years later, as Ellison starts to count down her final games with the Mean Green, she is leaving while having one of the best seasons in program history while also helping North Texas build a winning identity.
“Freshmen want to play but seniors want to win,” said associate head coach Bobby Brasel. “She made a decision to help the team and what’s happened is she’s become a better player herself through the process. She’s an important piece not just to this year’s team but to this program going forward.”
When Ellison sat down with Mitchell, the decision to change positions didn’t come as a surprise to her coaching staff. Since they took over the Mean Green program in 2015, Ellison has seen her numbers skyrocket. Through 47 games under Mitchell, Ellison has scored 483 points and grabbed 226 rebounds.
But what made the coaching staff proud about the decision was that it was for the sake of the team.
“She wasn’t content,” Brasel said. “It showed she wanted to do more.”
Last season, due to a smaller roster, Ellison occasionally found herself in the post but it wasn’t her primary spot. Ellison stayed further from the rim. Her 75 3-point attempts last year were the third most on the team.
The success she had while playing in the post gave her confidence that she could play there for an entire season.
“I knew I was more athletic and quicker than most of the other fours and fives in our conference,” Ellison said. “I knew with the guards coming in this year that having me at the four would stretch the court out. I have a lot of confidence in my mid-range shot and I also knew I could rebound.”
Through 18 games this season, Ellison is averaging 5.9 rebounds a game, nearly four more than she averaged in her first three seasons at North Texas. She’s out rebounded some of the best in C-USA and has caught many off guard with her strength. Her .528 field goal percentage is one of the best in country and if it holds will be one of the best single season field goal percentages in program history.
With each game that goes by Ellison seems to get more comfortable playing in her new position and with no surprise Mean Green wins come with it. In games won this season, Ellison is shooting at 62 percent.
In North Texas’ seven conference games she has averaged 12.1 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. On Dec. 30, Ellison accomplished a career first when she recorded a double-double versus Charlotte at the Super Pit in the conference opener. Her 15 rebounds in that game were a career-best.
Thursday, Ellison returns to the court to face the Charlotte 49ers, who now sit in first-place in C-USA.
"I’m just doing what’s best for my team and what’s going to help us in games,” Ellison said. “I’m one of the leaders on that team so I feel as if I have to have belief in myself in order to keep this process going.”