No. 13/13 ASU Women's Basketball Goes on the Road to Face Gonzaga
Dec. 5, 2006
Riding a three-game winning streak, the No. 13/13 Arizona State women's basketball team travels to Spokane, Wash., for its first official `road' game of the season on Wednesday against the Gonzaga Bulldogs (7 p.m. PT/8 p.m. MT).
The Sun Devils (7-1) are coming off a weekend in which they captured the Verizon Wireless ASU Classic championship despite missing key personnel for both games. ASU defeated Boston University in the first round (played without starting senior forwards Aubree Johnson and Emily Westerberg) and Northern Arizona in the championship game (played without Johnson, Westerberg and starting junior guard Reagan Pariseau) to win the tournament for the fifth consecutive season.
Sophomore G Danielle Orsillo earned tournament MVP honors by scoring a career-best 19 points in both contests. Also coming through with key performances were sophomore guard Briann January (averaged 14.5 pts, 3.5 rebs and 3.0 asts), sophomore center Kirsten Thompson (averaged 16.5 pts and 7.0 rebs) and senior guard Jill Noe, who came up just short of securing ASU's first triple-double since 1992 after contributing 17 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds in the championship game. Both January and Thompson were named to the Verizon Wireless ASU Classic All-Tourney Team.
Wednesday's game will be a homecoming of sorts for several of ASU's players. January, Pariseau, and Westerberg are from the Spokane area while Johnson is from nearby Post Falls, Id. January, Johnson, Pariseau and Westerberg all played for the same AAU squad (the four were on the same team at one point for one season). Also hailing from the state of Washington is Thompson.
The game at Gonzaga will be the first of two consecutive the Sun Devils will play on the road although the two games will be spread over nine days. Following its contest at Gonzaga the team will take a seven-day break from game action for final exams. ASU will resume action when it plays at UC Irvine on Dec. 14.
Arizona State's game against Gonzaga can be heard live KXAM 1310 AM. It can also be heard live on the sundevilsportsnetwork.com (subscription-based service). Pre-game coverage will begin at 7:30 p.m. in Arizona. Valley veteran broadcaster Jeff Munn is in his third year as the voice of ASU women's basketball.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
The Sun Devils entered this week's action ranked No. 1 in the Pac-10 in scoring offense (80.2 ppg), scoring margin (+19.5 pts), three-point field goal percentage (.395), assists (21.5 per game) and turnover margin (+4.62). They were ranked No. 2 in field goal percentage (.498), free throw percentage (.727) and steals (10.5 per game).
Senior G Jill Noe is ranked No. 1 in the Pac-10 in three-point FG pct (.588/10-17) ... Senior F Emily Westerberg and sophomore C Kirsten Thompson are currently ranked No. 5 (.603) and No. 6 (.589), respectively, in the Pac-10 in field goal percentage ... Westerberg is currently No. 9 in the Pac-10 in scoring (15.5 points per game) ... ASU has three players - January, Pariseau and Noe - who are ranked in the top 10 in assists in the Pac-10. January is sixth (4.5 apg), Pariseau is tied for seventh (3.86 apg) and Noe is ninth (3.43 apg).
Westerberg needs four more points to reach 1,000 for her career. Westerberg would be the 17th Sun Devil to accomplish the feat. The most recent ASU player to go over the 1,000-point mark was Kristen Kovesdy, who ended her career last season as the No. 5 all-time scorer in Sun Devil history.
This will be ASU's first official `road' game of the season. Although they played Western Kentucky in the U.S. Virgin Islands, the site was considered `neutral.' This will be the first time that the Sun Devils have faced Gonzaga in Spokane. They have faced the Bulldogs on two other occasions, however both were played in Tempe. The Sun Devils were victorious in both games, most recently 77-58 in 2004.
EARLY SEASON RECAP
The Sun Devils opened their season winning their first four games by an average of 31.5 points. ASU won the season-opening Veterans Day Classic (Nov. 10, 12 & 13) after capturing wins over Nebraska (87-60), New Mexico (67-49) and Florida Atlantic (96-60). They followed that with a 91-46 win over Nicholls State (Nov. 15).
Sun Devil senior G Jill Noe (11.7 ppg, 8.7 rpg) and G Briann January (8.7 ppg, 3.7 apg, 3.0 spg) were named to the Veterans Day Classic All-Tournament Team while senior F Emily Westerberg (16.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg) was named the MVP.
The Sun Devils encountered their first loss of the season to the No. 4 Tennessee Lady Vols (Nov. 19). ASU had a season-high 25 turnovers while allowing Tennessee to shoot 54.8 percent in the 83-74 loss. The loss to Tennessee snapped ASU's 26-game regular season home-winning streak and its streak of wins in 13 consecutive regular season games going back to last season.
ASU got back on the winning track, defeating Western Kentucky 67-63 in the first round of the Paradise Jam held in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Sun Devils forced 35 turnovers, however had to hold off a furious rally by the Lady Toppers in the game's closing minutes.
The Sun Devils won their home tournament, the Verizon ASU Classic, defeating both Boston University (75-53) and Northern Arizona (85-72). ASU defeated Boston despite not having its regular starting posts - seniors Emily Westerberg and Aubree Johnson - in the lineup. The Sun Devils overcame even more adversity in their win against NAU, overtaking the Lumberjacks despite not having Johnson, Westerberg and starting point guard Reagan Pariseau in the lineup. Sophomore G Danielle Orsillo earned tournament MVP honors by scoring a career-best 19 points in both contests. Also coming through with key performances were sophomore guard Briann January (averaged 14.5 pts, 3.5 rebs and 3.0 asts), sophomore center Kirsten Thompson (averaged 16.5 pts and 7.0 rebs) and senior guard Jill Noe, who came up just short of securing ASU's first triple-double since 1992 after contributing 17 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds in the championship game. Both January and Thompson were named to the Verizon Wireless ASU Classic All-Tourney Team.
ASU has won 16 of its last 17 regular season contests dating back to 2005-06. ASU won its last nine regular season games of 2005-06 and had won its first four this season before falling to the No. 4 Tennessee Lady Vols, 83-74 on Nov. 19. Since losing to Tennessee, the Sun Devils have won their last three games.
Since 2004-05, the Sun Devils are 23-4 in their pre-conference regular season games. They have defeated five ranked teams in that span, including No. 11 Georgia and No. 8 UConn in 2004, No. 17 Vanderbilt and No. 18 New Mexico in 2005 and No. 18 New Mexico in 2006. ASU's only losses in that span came at No. 3 LSU in 2004 (54-65), at New Mexico in 2004 (45-61), vs. No. 8 North Carolina in last year's Caribbean Classic in Cancun (72-79) and vs. Tennessee (74-83) last month in Tempe.
ASU has won 28 of its last 29 regular season home games. The Sun Devils are 46-3 at home since the 2003-04 season.
The Sun Devils have 11 players who are averaging at least 11 minutes per game. Leading the way is sophomore G Briann January, who is averaging 25.4 minutes per game.
WESTERBERG NAMED TO PRESEASON ALL-PAC-10 TEAM
Arizona State senior F Emily Westerberg was named to the 2006-07 Preseason All-Pac-10 Team, announced last month during the annual Pac-10 Women's Basketball Media Day.
Last season Westerberg became the first Sun Devil since 1992-93 to earn First-Team All-Pac-10 honors in back-to-back seasons after a year in which she finished second on the team in scoring (12.8 ppg), rebounding (5.1 rpg), assists (80) and blocks (9) and third in both steals (34) and three-point field goals (18).
Thus far in 2006-07, Westerberg has more than lived up to the preseason honor. She was named Most Valuable Player of the season opening Veterans Day Classic. Westerberg averaged 16.7 points and 4.7 rebounds in wins over Nebraska, New Mexico and Florida Atlantic. She added a season-best 21 points in ASU's 83-74 loss to No. 4 Tennessee (Nov. 19). Westerberg's play against the Lady Vols was so impressive that Tennessee head coach Pat Summitt singled her out in her post-game remarks following the game. Said Summitt, 'We didn't have an answer [for Emily Westerberg]. I went over and told her, `You are a heck of a player.' I knew that from just watching tape. She is very efficient. She is just a very skilled player. She plays hard. She gets open. We had a hard time keeping the ball out of her hands. We talked about it at halftime: You have to limit her touches or the numbers are going to mount.'
One of ASU's 2006-07 co-captains along with senior F Aubree Johnson, Westerberg needs four points to become the 17th player in school history to score 1,000 career points.
SUN DEVILS SIGN TWO FOR 2006-07
A local standout who led her team to a state championship and a multi-faceted talent from the Pacific Northwest highlight the 2006 recruiting class for the Arizona State University women's basketball program. Rebecca Tobin and Stephanie Wilber signed letters of intent on November 8 to study and compete at Arizona State.
The Arizona Republic's Northwest Valley Girls Basketball Player of the year in 2006, Tobin is coming off a season in which she helped lead Glendale Cactus to the 4A Division I state title. Tobin proved to be a dominant inside presence for the Cobras, setting the girls single-season state record for blocks with 191, far surpassing the previous record of 167. Tobin was every bit as effective on the offensive side as well in leading Cactus with 16.3 points per game. In addition, she also averaged 10.3 rebounds, 3.5 steals and 3.1 assists. In the 2006 4A state championship game against top-seeded Scottsdale Saguaro, Tobin scored a game-high 26 points in helping the Cobras secure their second state title in three years.
A 6-1 guard, Wilber will be coming to ASU from Auburn Riverside in Auburn, Wash. Wilber helped lead Riverside to a 22-7 record and a sixth-place finish in the 2006 Washington state 4A state tournament. During the 2005-06 season, Wilber averaged 16.0 points, 11.5 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game. Wilber earned several honors along the way including being named first-team All-South Puget Sound League North Division; First-Team All-League; Second Team All Area by the News Tribune (Tacoma, Wash.); and Honorable Mention All Area by the Seattle P-I. In addition to her accomplishments for Riverside, Wilber also had 18 points and 11 rebounds for Team Concept in the 2006 Arizona Elite Classic championship.
SUN DEVILS EARN HIGHEST RANKINGS EVER IN PRESEASON POLLS
The Arizona State women's basketball team opened the 2006-07 season ranked No. 13 in the country, according to the Associated Press (AP) Poll and No. 12 according to the USA TODAY/ESPN Preseason Coaches Poll. Both rankings were the highest ASU ever received in each of the major polls to start the season.
The Sun Devils have since climbed to as high as No. 11 in both polls (currently No. 13 in AP and No. 13 in USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll. The highest ranking ASU has ever held is No. 9 which occurred in 1983 (AP) and again last season (AP and USA Today/ESPN Polls).
ASU HOSTING HOOPS FOR HEALTH CLASSIC ON DEC. 18
The Arizona State women's basketball program announced in September that it will take on the Texas Tech Lady Raiders in the Hoops for Health Classic Dec. 18, 2006 at Chase Field in Phoenix. In addition to showcasing women's college basketball at the highest level, the game will be used as a vehicle to promote health awareness by giving fans the opportunity to participate in a Health Expo around the stadium's concourse and on the field prior to the game.
The Hoops for Health Classic will be the second outdoor college basketball game played at Chase Field, home of Major League Baseball's Arizona Diamondbacks. On December 27, 2000, Arizona State and Tennessee played in the first ever outdoor college basketball game (Hoops for the Cure Classic) in which Tennessee prevailed 67-63. That game produced Arizona State and Pac-10 records for the highest attendance at a women's basketball game (16,282).
Texas Tech returns three starters from last year's team which finished the season 15-14. The Lady Raiders are coach by Kristy Curry, who is in her first year at Texas Tech after spending seven seasons at Purdue where she led the Boilermakers to a pair of Big Ten regular season and three Big Ten Tournament championships.
WHAT'S NEXT FOR CHARLI?
Arizona State head coach Charli Turner Thorne added another great accomplishment to her coaching dossier last season when it was revealed that ASU was ranked No. 10 in the USA Today/ESPN coaches poll (ASU would eventually ascend to No. 9, which tied its highest ever ranking). For the Sun Devils it was their first appearance in the top 10 of a major poll in 22 years. If the figure `22 years' sounds familiar it's because in 2004-05 Turner Thorne led the Sun Devils to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 22 years. Turner Thorne was recognized for the job she has done with ASU last season when she was named the Russell Athletic/Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Region 8 Coach of the Year.
Currently in the midst of her 11th season in Tempe, Turner Thorne has more than established the Sun Devils as one of the teams to watch on an annual basis not only in the Pac-10 Conference, but also across the country. In fact, since the 2000-01 season, the Sun Devils have won the second-highest number of overall games (134) in the Pac-10 Conference. Turner Thorne is currently No. 5 among Pac-10 coaches in all-time victories with 179.