Women's Basketball Exhibition Pregame Notes
North Texas Hosts TWU, Saturday At 3:00 P.M.
DENTON -- The North Texas women's basketball team begins its 2017-18 season on Saturday with a free admission 3:00 p.m. exhibition game versus Texas Woman's University at the Super Pit.
The Mean Green enter their third season under head coach Jalie Mitchell and are looking to take another considerable step forward.
In year one the team more than doubled its win total from the previous season and led the nation in offensive improvement. In year two, it improved its RPI by over 100 points and beat and competed with the best teams in Conference USA.
Saturday's exhibition will further showcase the foundation that has been set over the past two seasons and what Mitchell hopes to build off throughout this season. Furthermore, the exhibition will give fans their first look at the current and future of the Mean Green program.
REPLACING THE BIG THREE
North Texas lost Candice Adams, Terra Ellison and Kelsey Criner to graduation this offseason. The three starters were critical in the program's growth since Mitchell took it over in 2015.
Even if they weren't the leading scorers for a particular game, they provided consistency and veteran leadership that sailed the ship and was felt by everyone in the arena.
They were the face of the program.
Who will take over those roles this coming season will be important as the Mean Green are looking to get off to a better start than they did last season when they began 0-3 before beating Arizona on the road.
T ALL-CONFERENCE B
Guard Terriell Bradley was the one who led the Mean Green to victory on the road at Arizona last season when she scored 17 points off the bench in their 62-58 win.
Bradley emerged into the team's leading scorer by the time conference play began and showed versatility to play four different positions on the court.
In October, the conference's coaches named Bradley to the 2017 Preseason All-Conference team. An eight-player team, Bradley averaged 13 points per game in conference last season, which is the sixth best for returning conference players.
Bradley is the first North Texas women's basketball player to be named preseason all-conference since 2011 when the university played in the Sun Belt Conference.
A steady and calm figure, Bradley is expected to fill the leadership role left by Adams, Ellison and Criner in her own way.
North Texas has added talented and driven newcomers who have been brought in for their character and skills with the hope of further elevating the program's floor.
All are proven winners, like freshman Lauren Holmes who won nine high school state championships in three years in three different sports. Or South Plains College transfer point guard Brittany Smith who led her junior college team to a deep run in the NJCAA tournament.
The three freshmen and Smith will all help continue to raise the expectations of the program in year three under Mitchell.
Last season in non-conference, North Texas made constant changes to its starting lineup. It wasn't until the end of the year that the Mean Green's small lineup became a consistent look for the team.
10 different North Texas players started at least one game with Ellison being the only one to start every game.
With three starters graduating and post Tosin Mabodu retiring due to injury, the Mean Green starting lineup will look different. How quickly the starting lineup and other rotations can form could prove to be crucial for the Mean Green early on.
HOME SWEET HOME
Opening the season with a home exhibition is nothing new to the Mean Green. But beginning the season with five of their first seven games at the Super Pit is. Last year the team played six of its first seven games on the road and won just two of the seven.
North Texas plays 15 regular season home games this year, which is two more than last year and the most since Mitchell took over the program.
They went 2-2 in non-conference home games a season ago. Seven of their 15 home games this year are against non-conference teams.
Last season North Texas was one of the best teams in C-USA on the defensive end of the court. They held C-USA opponents to 62.9 points per game, which was the third-best in the conference and only a tenth of a point away from being the second-best.
Shutting down the opponent's best offensive player was key.
Opposing teams' top-scorers typically averaged 10 fewer points than their season average when they played the Mean Green.
Who for North Texas will surface as the team's best defender will be a point of interest early in the season.