No. 10/11 ASU Women's Basketball Goes on the Road to Face UC Irvine Thursday Night
Dec. 13, 2006
The No. 10/11 Arizona State women's basketball team will look to extend its winning streak to five games on Thursday evening (7 p.m. PT/8 p.m. MT) when it goes on the road to face the UC Irvine Anteaters.
Following their 81-66 win over Gonzaga last week, the Sun Devils moved up to No. 10 in the Associated Press poll which marks the second consecutive season that they have climbed into the AP top 10. Last season the Sun Devils tied their highest ranking in school history when they were ranked No. 9 in both the AP and USA Today/ESPN Coaches Polls the first week in January.
Following Thursday's game against UC Irvine, the Sun Devils will be returning home to host the Hoops for Health Classic against the Texas Tech Lady Raiders on Monday evening at Chase Field in downtown Phoenix. The ASU-Texas Tech contest will be the second ever women's basketball contest played outdoors. In 2000, the Sun Devils faced Tennessee at what was then Bank One Ballpark and drew more than 16,000 fans. In addition to the game, Monday night's event will also included a health and kids expo.
Arizona State's game against UC Irvine 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 (80.3 ppg), scoring margin (+19.0 pts), three-point field goal percentage (.412), assists (21.6 per game), steals (10.78 - tied for first with Washington) and turnover margin (+5.67). They were ranked No. 2 in field goal percentage (.495).
This week the Sun Devils climbed into the top 10 of the AP poll, marking the second consecutive season they have ascended to such status. The Sun Devils are currently the highest ranked team in the Pac-10.
Senior G Jill Noe is ranked No. 2 in the Pac-10 in three-point FG pct (.545/12-22) ... Sophomore C Kirsten Thompson and senior F Emily Westerberg are currently ranked No. 3 (.612) and No. 4 (.589), respectively, in the Pac-10 in field goal percentage ... Westerberg is currently No. 7 in the Pac-10 in scoring (16.1 points per game) ... ASU has two players - January and Pariseau - who are ranked in the top 10 in assists in the Pac-10. January is sixth (4.44 apg) and Pariseau is seventh (3.88 apg).
Westerberg is averaging 18.3 points and 6.0 rebounds in her last three games while Thompson is averaging 16.3 points and 6.3 rebounds in her last three outings. During that span Thompson has been shooting .750 from the field (24-32).
The Anteaters are coached by former Sun Devil standout Molly Tuter. Tuter played four seasons for the Sun Devils, including one season for current ASU head coach Charli Turner Thorne (1996-97). She ended her ASU career No. 3 on ASU's all-time scoring list with 1,374 points.
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 knocked off Gonzaga 81-66 to extend its winning streak four games, In that game, Westerberg scored 20 points, putting her over the 1,000-point mark for her career. She became the 17th Sun Devil to achieve such status.
ASU has won 17 of its last 18 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 four games.
Since 2004-05, the Sun Devils are 24-4 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 12 minutes per game. Leading the way is sophomore G Briann January, who is averaging 25.2 minutes per game.
WESTERBERG NAMED TO NAISMITH AWARD LIST
Arizona State senior F Emily Westerberg was recently named to the watch list for the 2007 Naismith Award, which is presented annually to the men's and women's college basketball players of the year.
The Top 50 list was compiled by the Atlanta Tipoff Club's Board of Selectors, comprised of leading basketball journalists, coaches and administrators from around the country. The board based its pre-season criteria on player performances from last season and expectations for the 2006-07 season. In January, the Board of Selectors will narrow its pre-season list to the Top 30 players in the nation. Those players, and others who distinguish themselves throughout the season, will be eligible for the final ballot in March.
Westerberg has already been named to the 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 recently became the 17th player in school history to score 1,000 career points following her 20-point outing in ASU's 81-66 win at Gonzaga.
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. 10 in the AP poll (currently No. 10 in AP and No. 11 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 (135) in the Pac-10 Conference. Turner Thorne is currently No. 5 among Pac-10 coaches in all-time victories with 180.