Women's Basketball Heads to the Virgin Islands for the 2001 Paradise Jam

Nov. 21, 2001

TEMPE, Ariz. -

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With a 2-1 record in a brutal stretch that has seen ASU play three games in five days, the No. 21/25 Arizona State Sun Devils head the tropics for the 2001 Paradise Jam, being held Nov. 24-26 at the University of the Virgin Islands in St. Thomas. Arizona State will play three games at the Paradise Jam, taking on Western Michigan, Kansas State and Richmond in the three-day event. The Sun Devils are 2-1 record on the young season after wins over St. Peter's and Delaware State and, most recently, a 70-63 loss to Loyola Marymount Wednesday night. Counting the three games in the Paradise Jam, ASU will play a total of six games in 10 days.

In the PollsArizona State moved up a spot to 21st in the Nov. 19 Associated Press poll and entered the USA Today/ESPN Coaches poll for the first time of the season at 25th this week. The highest ASU was ranked last year was 22nd on Feb. 26, while the No. 22 ranking is the highest since the Sun Devils were ranked 16th in the preseason AP poll in 1983-84.

ASU was 22nd in the preseason AP poll, marking the first time in 18 years that the Sun Devils were ranked in the preseason, while the team had shown up in several of the other preseason polls, ranking as high as 17th.

Leaving the CountryThe trip to the Virgin Islands will mark ASU's first outside the 50 states since traveling to the San Juan Shootout in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in 1996-97, Charli Turner Thorne's first season at Arizona State. Last year, ASU left the contiguous United States for a successful trip to the Rainbow Wahine Classic in Honolulu, where the team finished second after falling to 22nd-ranked North Carolina State 54-51 in the championship game.

The 3,076-mile trip from Tempe to St. Thomas is the longest for the Sun Devils since the team toured Australia in May of 1999.

Last Time OutSenior Cian Carvalho turned in her first career double-double, but it wasn't enough as the Sun Devils lost to Loyola Marymount 70-63 Monday night at Wells Fargo Arena.

Loyola Marymount senior Bryn Britton led all scorers with 22 points, while ASU senior Amanda Levens turned in her second 20-point outing of the year with 20 points and six assists. Carvalho finished the game with 13 points and tied her career high with 10 rebounds. The LMU Lions made their move midway through the first half, going on a 9-0 that started when sophomore Raelen Self drilled a three-pointer with 8:41 to play in the half to tie the game at 19. LMU took a 30-25 lead into the locker room at halftime and outshot the Sun Devils 45.2 to 25.0 percent from the field.

In the second half, Loyola Marymount went ahead by as many as 16 points, but the Sun Devils mounted a comeback midway through the half and got as close as one when Levens hit a pair of free throws to make it 56-55 with 5:37 to play. The Lions, however, scored the next four points and ASU never got closer than five for the rest of the game.

About the Paradise JamThe 2001 Paradise Jam is an eight-team tournament held Nov. 24-26 on the campus of the University of the Virgin Islands in St. Thomas. In the 'St. John' Division of the tournament, Arizona State will take on Western Michigan, Kansas State and Richmond. USC, Florida, Wisconsin and Texas make up the other half of the bracket.

Tournament ScheduleSaturday, Nov. 24Arizona State vs. Western Michigan, 6:30 p.m. (3:30 p.m. MST)Richmond vs. Kansas State, 8:45 p.m. (5:45 p.m. MST)

Sunday, Nov. 25Kansas State vs. Western Michigan, 2 p.m. (11 a.m. MST)Arizona State vs. Kansas State, 4:15 p.m. (1:15 p.m. MST)

Monday, Nov. 26Arizona State vs. Richmond, 10 a.m. (7 a.m. MST)Kansas State vs. Western Michigan, 12:15 p.m. (9:15 a.m. MST)(Times are for the Atlantic Region, Eastern plus one hour)

About ASU's Paradise Jam OpponentsWith a 1-2 record including a win over Eastern Washington and losses to Arkansas State and Tulsa, Western Michigan returns eight letterwinners and four starters from last year's 9-19 team, including its leading scorer and rebounder from one year ago in senior forward Karen Deurloo (170 ppg, 7.4 rpg in 2000-01). Through the Broncos' first three games this year, sophomore forward Kristin Koetsier is team's leading scorer at 17.3 ppg, while Deurloo is averaging 13.7 points and 9.3 rebounds.

Kansas State brings a 2-0 record to the Virgin Islands with wins over Georgia Tech and IUPUI to its credit so far this year. Last year, the Wildcats went 10-2 in the nonconference season, but struggled in Big XII play to finish the year 12-16. K-State returns seven letterwinners and three starters from that team including sophomore forward Nicole Ohlde who was the team's leading scorer (17.2 ppg) and rebounder (8.1 rpg) one year ago. This season, four Wildcats are averaging double figures for scoring, led by freshman Laurie Koehn at 21.5 points per outing, including 27 points in the team's season-opening victory at Georgia Tech.

Richmond has opened the season with a 1-1 record, including a season-opening loss at Virginia Tech and a win over Virginia. The Spiders went 16-12 last year and return nine letterwinners and two starters from that team. Three-year starting point guard Michele Koclanes led the team in scoring last year at 12.1 points per game, while sophomore guard Amber Goppert is the Spiders' top scorer so far this year at 17.5 points per outing, including 21 vs. Virginia.

In the SeriesArizona State leads the series with Western Michigan 1-0, earning a 79-69 victory in the only meeting between the two teams on Dec. 31, 1992 at Wells Fargo Arena. The Sun Devils are 2-0 all-time vs. teams from the Mid-American Conference with a win over Toledo in 1991-92.

The Sun Devils also lead the series with Kansas State 1-0, downing the Wildcats 74-72 on Jan. 4, 1987 at Wells Fargo Arena. ASU is 8-21 all-time vs. teams from the Big XII Conference and has lost its last three games vs. teams from that league, including losses at Texas and Kansas in 1999-00 and a home loss to Texas in 1998-99. The Sun Devils' last victory over a Big XII opponent came on Dec. 29, 1997 when the team dispatched Oklahoma 87-76 in Tempe.

Monday's game will mark the first meeting between Arizona State and Richmond, while the Sun Devils hold a 5-0 advantage vs. teams from the Atlantic 10 Conference. Most recently, ASU defeated La Salle 73-56 in the opening game of last year's ASU Holiday Classic. The Sun Devils will face a second opponent from that league next week when they take on Fordham in the opening round of this year's ASU Holiday Classic.

Up NextFollowing their trip to the Virgin Islands and the 2001 Paradise Jam, the Sun Devils will return home for their own tournament, the ASU Holiday Classic, which will be held Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 1-2 at Wells Fargo Arena. Arizona State will take on Fordham, and Northwestern State will play Rutgers in the first round.

Trying to Find Their TouchThe Sun Devils have struggled a bit from the field this year, knocking down just 35.5 percent of their shots, including a season-low 29.5 percent vs. Delaware State on Nov. 19. In the first half vs. Loyola Marymount on Wednesday night, ASU shot just 25.0 percent. From three-point land, ASU is shooting just 22.2 percent (6-27). Last year, the Sun Devils finished second in the Pac-10 on three-point shooting, knocking down 35.3 percent of their attempts (135-382).

Lighting Up the ScoreboardSenior guard Amanda Levens is averaging 24.0 points per game through the first three games this season, including a pair of 20-points performances. The transfer from Old Dominion University scored a career-high 30 points in ASU's season-opening win over St. Peter's and had a team-high 20 in the loss to Loyola Marymount. Leven's 30-point effort marked the most points for a Sun Devil since Molly Tuter scored 32 in a 70-66 victory over Southern Utah on Nov. 8, 1997. In her short ASU career, Levens has led the Sun Devil squad in scoring in 16 games and has had nine 20-point efforts.

Quick Hits- While the Sun Devils have gotten to the free throw line an astounding 117 times in just three games (39.0 times per game), the team has struggled at the charity stripe, knocking down just 59.0 percent of its attempts (69-117). Senior Amanda Levens, who is first on the ASU single-season charts for free throws and second in attempts, has already been to the line 45 times this year and has knocked down 73.3 percent of her attempts (33-45).

- Senior Leah Combs is the team's leading rebounder through the first three games with an average of 7.3 boards per contest, including 10 vs. St. Peter's.

- ASU is averaging 10.7 steals per game, including 14 steals in the team's win over Delaware State Monday night and 11 in Wednesday night's loss to Loyola Marymount. The 16 steals vs. the Hornets marked the most since the team had 16 in a win over Cal State Northridge last year. Senior Cian Carvalho led the team in steals with a career-best six vs. Delaware State and had a team-high three vs. Loyola Marymount.

- So far this season, ASU has outrebounded its opponents in all three games and leads that category by an average of 12.7 rebounds including a 55-33 advantage in Monday night's victory over Delaware State. The team is averaging 47.0 rebounds per game, while the 55 rebounds vs. the Hornets are the most for a Sun Devil squad since the 1998-99 team had 55 in a season-opening win over Sam Houston State.

- Freshman Kylan Loney has started the first three games of the season at point guard, marking the fourth straight year that the Sun Devils have had at least one true freshman in the starting lineup. Last season, guard/forward Betsy Boardman started all 31 games of the year en route to Pac-10 All-Freshman honors.

ASU Picked Second, Fourth in Preseason Pac-10 PollsArizona State has been picked to finish second in the Pac-10 Conference by the media (with a pair of first-place votes) and fourth by the league's coaches. Last year, ASU was tabbed fifth by the coaches and sixth by the media in their preseason polls but surpassed all outside expectations by finishing in a tie for first with Stanford and Washington for ASU's first ever Pac-10 basketball title.

Tough SlateThis season, Arizona State will play 11 games against six teams that advanced to the NCAA Tournament or the Women's National Invitation Tournament last year. NCAA qualifiers on the 2001-02 slate include Oregon, Stanford and Washington, while Loyola Marymount, Arizona and Oregon State advanced to the WNIT. The Sun Devils also have a chance to take on NCAA qualifier and Big East powerhouse Rutgers in the second round of the ASU Holiday Classic.

Pac-10 Conference HonoreesThe Sun Devils return a trio of all-conference performers from one season ago, including senior center Melody Johnson and senior guard Amanda Levens who were named to the All-Pac-10 Conference first team, marking the first time in school history that ASU has had two players earn first-team accolades. Arizona was the only other school to have two first-team selections last year. Freshman guard/forward Betsy Boardman was named to the five-player Freshman All-Pac-10 squad, marking the third consecutive season that the Sun Devils have had a player named to the all-rookie team. In addition, three Sun Devils earned Academic All-Pac-10 honors with junior Leah Combs becoming ASU's first first-team selection since 1990.

Head coach Charli Turner Thorne was named the 2001 Pac-10 Conference Coach of the Year as selected by the league's coaches, ASU's first such honor, and was one of eight finalists for the 2001 Russell Athletic/WBCA Division I National Coach of the Year Award. As a finalist, Turner Thorne earned the distinction of WBCA District 8 Coach of the Year as selected by WBCA member coaches from that geographical region.

Pac-10 Postseason TournamentA new era starts as the Pac-10 begins its first annual Women's Basketball Tournament on March 1-4, 2002, at McArthur Court on the campus of the University of Oregon, in Eugene, Oregon. The league's Directors of Athletics and the Pac-10 Council approved the postseason tournament last fall. The Pac-10 postseason tournament will be a 10-team event which will be hosted by one of the Pac-10 members on its campus each year. A total of nine games will be played with the champion earning the conference's automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.

Head Coach Charli Turner ThorneSince Charli Turner Thorne took over the reins of the program in 1996-97, the Sun Devils have begun a steady climb back to the national prominence that the team enjoyed in the early 1990s. That climb culminated in 2000-01 when Turner Thorne's Sun Devils captured ASU's first Pac-10 Championship, an NCAA berth, a return to the national rankings and the team's first 20-win season in nine years. The 2001 Pac-10 Coach of the Year and District 8 Regional Coach of the Year has improved the team's wins total in each of her five seasons and guided ASU to five consecutive double-digit win seasons in as many years. In 1999-00, Turner Thorne led the Sun Devils to a 14-14 regular-season record and a 7-11 mark in the Pac-10 Conference, both of which marked the school's most victories since 1992-93. Turner Thorne's Sun Devils also earned the team's first postseason appearance in eight seasons, falling to Colorado State 66-54 in Fort Collins, Colo., in the first round of the 2000 Women's National Invitation Tournament.

First and Facts About The 2000-01 Season* The Sun Devils won their first Pac-10 Conference title, clinching a three-way tie with Stanford and Washington, and earned the school's first NCAA Tournament bid since 1992. The Sun Devils had been picked to finish fifth and sixth in the preseason conference polls by the coaches and media, respectively.

* Arizona State won 20 games for the first time since 1991-92, including 12 at home which tied the school record.

* Arizona State cracked the national top 25 for the first time since 1991-92, was ranked in consecutive weeks for the first time since 1982-83 and finished in tie for 25th in the final Associated Press poll, the team's first ranking in the final poll of the year in 18 years.

* The Sun Devils won seven consecutive Pac-10 games (Jan. 11 to Feb. 8) for the first time in school history and turned in their longest overall winning streak since the 1991-92 squad opened the season with a school-record nine wins.

* The Sun Devils upset three ranked opponents which they had not done in a single season since the 1991-92 NCAA Tournament-bound Sun Devils downed No. 17 Kansas, No. 21 Cal and No. 5 Stanford.

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