For the first time in six years, the Denison girls basketball program heads into the season with the same coach who started the previous year.

For the first time in six years, the Denison girls basketball program heads into the season with the same coach who started the previous year.


The difference for 2013-14, however, is that this time it is the roster with significant turnover.


"We’re extremely young," Denison head coach Rod Been said. "Outside of Jamiah Ballard, none of these girls really have varsity experience except for a game or two."


While most teams jump into action right away, the Lady Jackets will look to use some extra practice time before Denison opens the season on Nov. 15 by hosting Paris North Lamar at 6:15 p.m.


"This season is going to be about coming together and loving practice," Been said. "This group needs to work. I’ve lightened the schedule with a focus on practice."


The bonding started during the off-season and carried into the summer so that the Lady Jackets would be better prepared when they returned in the fall.


"By and large, the majority of the girls went to the McMurry team camp and the UTA team camp," Been said. "I was excited to get to do that. They, as a group, probably played about 20 games together this summer. That is going to give us a better start."


The Lady Jackets went 4-27 last season after a 10-win campaign that was the best mark in six years, and finished the year by losing 17 of 18 as part of a 1-13 record in District 13-4A. Denison defeated Carrollton Ranchview in non-district play, picked up a victory at the Pottsboro and Alvord Tournaments and beat Greenville in district play.


"Our JV had success in district. They were very competitive with most of the teams," Been said. "With a majority of them having success, hopefully that will carry over."


A majority of those players, plus a couple of freshmen, will see most of the minutes since Jacoya Johnson, who was the only Lady Jacket to earn all-district recognition with an honorable mention nod, and Jasmine Ballard, who was a first-team all-district selection as a sophomore, are not back for their senior seasons.


The only senior on the roster is Sara McBride, who is back on the court after a concussion sidelined her for all of her junior year.


"One of the guard spots is up for grabs. She is in the mix," Been said. "She does have ability but she’s just been hampered by injuries."


The point guard could be either Mariah Hines or Jayden Hunt with the potential that both freshmen might start in the backcourt.


"She has a real high basketball IQ. Innately she understands the game," Been said about Hines. "She should be able to get us in and out of things."


Jamiah Ballard, a sophomore, is slotted at one of the wings with juniors Sahara Crawford, Dara Williams and Bailey Nixon among the potential starting post players.


"There’s going to be no reason why we cant change defenses, throw some different things at people," Been said. "We should be able to get up and down the floor in transition."


Junior Callie Meek and sophomore Tamara Gisendaner will be among the first guards off the bench, along with junior Sabrina Inman.


"They’re quick," Been said. "More of a defensive guard so hopefully they’ll be guarding the other team’s best defensive players."


In addition to North Lamar, the Lady Jackets will face Melissa, Lake Highlands and Anna as well as competing in the Pottsboro and Colbert Tournaments. Denison will open district play on December 10. The 13-4A schools from last season — Sherman, Wylie, Wylie East, Lovejoy, Royse City, Greenville and McKinney North — carry over to this schedule.


"We’ve adjusted some things and hopefully set them up for success," Been said. "That’s what this group needs."