Most college basketball exhibitions are nondescript affairs.
When North Texas and TWU get together, it’s another matter entirely, a fact both UNT coach Jalie Mitchell and TWU coach Beth Jillson have come to appreciate about their annual showdown.
Both schools’ women’s basketball teams have a chance to prepare for their seasons and meet up with old friends. This season’s game will be played at 3 p.m. on Sunday at the Super Pit.
“It’s a great opportunity for the Denton community to see two top-level teams,” Jillson said. “If I’m not wearing maroon, I’m cheering for Jalie and North Texas.”
Mitchell feels the same way.
“Playing every year is good for both programs and the community,” Mitchell said.
Both teams have a reason to be excited heading into their season openers in just a few days.
UNT won its first postseason game beyond a conference tournament in program history last season when it knocked off Texas Rio Grande Valley in the Women’s Basketball Invitational. The Mean Green went on to win three games in the event before falling to Appalachian State in the final.
UNT finished 18-16 last season. The Mean Green were picked to finish seventh in Conference USA and have three of their top five scorers returning. Senior post player Anisha George averaged 10.2 points per game and is UNT’s top returning scorer.
“I feel good about our ability to build off of last year,” Mitchell said. “We have the tools and the players we need.”
TWU finished 10-19 last season. Jillson is confident the Pioneers can improve in her 13th season.
“We were really young last year and had a lot of injuries,” Jillson said. “We have 11 players coming back and are mostly healthy.”
The game is one both Mitchell and Jillson believe will benefit their teams. UNT will open the season when it hosts Mid-American Christian on Thursday, while TWU will face Champion Christian College on Nov. 9 in its first regular season game.
“We know that North Texas has a great program,” Jillson said. “Any time we can play a Division I team to get ready for the season, that’s a positive.”