No. 22/21 ASU Women's Basketball Hosts No. 19/20 Texas on Thursday Night
Dec. 20, 2007
The No. 22/21 Arizona State women's basketball team will look for its second consecutive and seventh overall win of the season on Thursday (6:30 p.m. MT) when it hosts the No. 19/20 Texas Longhorns at Wells Fargo Arena.
Thursday night's game marks the fourth time this season that the Sun Devils will be taking on a ranked opponent, the most the Sun Devils have faced in the pre-conference part of their schedule in Charli Turner Thorne's 12 seasons as head coach. ASU opened the season at No. 8/7 (current No. 3/3) North Carolina, then faced No. 10/11 (current No. 9/10) Oklahoma 11 days later at the Caribbean Challenge in Cancun, Mexico, and finally hosted No. 18/20 (current No. 16/16) Auburn in the finals of the Verizon Wireless ASU Classic.
The Sun Devils are currently in the midst of a four-game homestand. They began the stretch with a 79-49 win over Fresno State on Monday. The Sun Devils are 59-5 in regular season home games going back to the 2003-04 season. Of those five losses, two have been to non-conference teams -- last season vs. then No. 5 Tennessee (83-74) and earlier this month vs. Auburn (75-69). Thursday's game against Texas will be ASU's final non-conference contest of the regular season before starting its 18-game Pac-10 schedule next weekend against UCLA (Dec. 28) and USC (Dec. 30).
The third Big 12 opponent the Sun Devils have faced this season (Oklahoma and Texas Tech), Texas (8-2) brings a six-game winning streak to Tempe. The Longhorns' only two losses of the season came at current No. 1 Tennessee and a three-point setback vs. Virginia in Hawaii. Texas is led by first-year head coach Gail Goestenkors, who came arrived in Austin in the offseason after a decorated 15-season stint at Duke where she led the Blue Devils to 13 NCAA Tournament appearances, including four Final Four berths.
The first 500 fans to enter Wells Fargo Arena will receive set No. 2 of the limited edition 2007-2008 Women's Basketball trading cards. Mark your calendars for the distribution of trading cards set No. 3 on Saturday, February 2nd against Oregon. Gates open this Thursday at 5:30 p.m. so arrive early to get your trading cards.
Also, all ASU fans who attended the Sun Devil Men's Basketball game vs. Montana State on Tuesday, December 18th can redeem their ticket stub for $2 general admission to the ASU vs. Texas women's basketball game. Show your ticket stub at the Wells Fargo Ticket window Thursday night to receive this special offer. (Good for one $2 general admission ticket only per person, expires 12/21/2007).
Arizona State's game vs. Texas can be heard live on KXAM 1310 AM and on the sundevilsportsnetwork.com (subscription-based service). Pre-game coverage will begin at 6 p.m. Valley veteran broadcaster Jeff Munn is in his fourth year as the voice of ASU women's basketball.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Thursday's game will be the third ever meeting between Texas and ASU. The Longhorns were victorious in the prior two meetings, winning in Tempe in 1998 (77-75) and again in Austin the following season (76-63).
The Sun Devils have averaged 21.2 assists in their last five games, including a season-best 26 assists vs. Gonzaga on Nov. 30. ASU came into this week's game ranked No. 10 in the country in assists. Junior Briann January currently leads the Sun Devils in assists, averaging 4.7 per game.
In their six games at home this season (5-1 record), the Sun Devils have been outscoring the opposition by an average of 22 points per game (75.5-53.5). The Sun Devils have shot an even 50 percent in those six games while their opponents have managed only 36.2 percent.
Currently with 1,045 career points, Jill Noe needs 21 points to move past Betsy Boardman (2000-05) for 12th place on ASU's all-time scoring list. Noe has led ASU over its last five contests, averaging 14.0 points per game while connecting on 50.0 percent of her shots (26-52), including 45.4 percent from three-point range (10-22). Noe is also averaging 5.2 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 2.6 steals during that span.
ASU's starting junior posts Lauren Lacey and Sybil Dosty have combined to average 21.6 points and 14.4 rebounds in ASU's last five games. Currently second on the team in scoring (10.8 ppg) and first on the team in rebounding (6.2 rpg), Lacey has scored in double figures in each of ASU's last six games. Dosty, meanwhile, has averaged 8.0 rebounds in her last five outings while connecting on 69.2 percent of her field goal attempts (18-26) during that span.
ASU players have now missed 14 games because of injury this season after sophomore Dymond Simon and junior Danielle Orsillo were forced to miss Monday's game against Fresno State because of knee injuries.
EARLY SEASON NOTES
The 49 points Fresno State scored on Dec. 17 represented the 11th time since the start of last season that ASU has held an opponent under 50 points.
In ASU's 66-42 win over UC Santa Barbara (Nov. 17), Jill Noe tallied 12 points, seven rebounds and eight assists and narrowly missed becoming the first Sun Devil to record a triple-double since Ryneldi Becenti in 1992. For Noe, it is the third such time she has flirted with the feat. Last season she recorded 17 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds in a win over Northern Arizona and during her freshman season she posted 17 points, nine assists and nine rebounds in a win over Denver.
Through ASU's first 10 games junior Briann January is first on the team in scoring (10.9 ppg), assists per game (4.7 apg), steals per game (2.5 spg), made free throws (39) and attempts (45) and free throw percent (.867). Junior Lauren Lacey is first on the team in rebounding (6.2 rpg).
THOMPSON NAMED PAC-10 PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Arizona State junior center Kirsten Thompson was named the Pac-10 Women's Basketball Player of the Week according to an announcement by Pac-10 Commissioner Tom Hansen on Dec. 10.
In ASU's 77-56 win over UC Davis on Dec. 9 Thompson was perfect from the floor, connecting on all seven of her shot attempts and both free throws to lead the Sun Devils with a season-high 16 points, which fell three short of her career best. Thompson, who also added five rebounds and three assists while playing a season-high 19 minutes, scored 10 of her 16 points in the first half in helping the Sun Devils build a 34-17 halftime lead.
In her last two games at home, Thompson has connected on 75 percent of her shot attempts (12-16) while averaging 14.0 points in those two games.
IT'S BETTER TO GIVE THAN RECEIVE
The Sun Devils had 21 assists in their 79-49 win over Fresno State on Dec. 17. It was the 15th time going back to the start of last season that ASU has recorded 20 or more assists in a single game. Earlier this season ASU tallied a season-best 26 assists in its win over Gonzaga (Nov. 30). Currently ranked No. 10 in the nation in assists per game, the Sun Devils have averaged 21.2 assists in their last five outings. ASU has finished in the nation's top five in assists each of the last two seasons, finishing second last season (18.1 apg) and fourth in 2005-06 (18.4 apg).
JANUARY NAMED TO PRESEASON ALL-PAC-10 TEAM
Arizona State junior guard Briann January was one of five players named to the preseason All-Pac-10 team. The team was chosen by members of the conference's women's basketball media. January is coming off a season in which she earned All-Pac-10 honorable mention honors in helping lead ASU to a school record 31 wins and its first Elite Eight appearance in school history. In 2006-07, the 5-8, Spokane, Wash., product finished third in the Pac-10 in steals (2.1 per game), fourth in assists (4.0 per game) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.67), and sixth in free throw percentage (81.7). A starter in 34 games, January concluded her sophomore campaign first on the team in both assists and steals and second in both scoring (10.2 points per game) and free throw percentage.
Thus far in 2007-08, January has wasted no time in picking up where she left off last season. She is currently first on the team in scoring (10.9 ppg), assists per game (4.74 apg), steals per game (2.5 spg), made free throws (39) and attempts (45) and free throw percent (.867).
SUN DEVILS WORK THROUGH EARLY SEASON INJURIES
When senior guard Reagan Pariseau suffered an ankle injury in the first half of ASU's eventual win over Gonzaga on Nov. 30, it represented one of the recent bumps and bruises the Sun Devils have encountered to start the season. Sun Devil players have already missed a total of 14 games because of injury this season.
Dymond Simon, a member of the Pac-10's All-Freshman Team last season, was limited early in the season as she returned from a torn ACL she suffered in January. Three times this season Simon has scored in double figures, including a season-best 17 points in ASU's win over Yale on Nov. 19. Simon was having a strong outing against Texas Tech last Thursday, scoring 11 points in 12 minutes before being forced to leave the game after aggravating her knee injury. She would return to the game for two minutes before leaving again. Simon did not play in ASU's most recent game against Fresno State (Dec. 17). Her status is currently day to day.
Junior post Sybil Dosty injured her knee earlier this fall and was forced to miss all of ASU's preseason practices. She averaged only 12 minutes in the first four games as she was slowly worked into the rotation. Since then, Dosty has averaged 19.3 minutes a game and has averaged 9.2 points and 7.3 rebounds while shooting 69.7 percent from the field.
Junior guard Kate Engelbrecht suffered a hand injury during the first preseason practice and was forced to miss the rest of ASU's preseason workouts and its first two games. She scored a season-high eight points in ASU's win over Fresno State on Dec. 17.
Less than one week after scoring a career-best 21 points in ASU's season opening loss at North Carolina, junior guard Danielle Orsillo was diagnosed with a bone bruise on her knee. On Nov. 19, head coach Charli Turner Thorne announced that Orsillo would be out for at least 4-6 weeks before her is situation reevaluated.
Pariseau missed ASU's games against Auburn (Dec. 2) and UC Davis (Dec. 9) after injuring her ankle early in ASU's win over Gonzaga on Nov. 30. She returned to action on Dec. 13 at Texas Tech and made an immediate impact, scoring a season-best nine points on 4-4 shooting.
HELP IS ON THE WAY
Without question, one of the biggest challenges facing ASU coming into the 2007-08 season is figuring out how it will compensate for the loss of All-Pac-10 performers Aubree Johnson and Emily Westerberg. In addition to being responsible for a combined 23.0 points and 10.8 rebounds per game in 2006-07 the duo also gave ASU a strong inside presence on both ends of the floor.
Enter junior transfers Sybil Dosty and Lauren Lacey. Biding their time since they last played a meaningful game in the spring of 2006, Dosty and Lacey were two players who were very eager to get on the floor and help the Sun Devils ascend to the top. Both players got to take a bit of a test drive with their teammates in real competition during ASU's trip to Italy last May in which the Sun Devils squared off against four different teams from around the country.
Originally a native of Tucson, Dosty spent her first two collegiate seasons at the University of Tennessee where she was part of a Final Four team her freshman year. Lacey, who transferred from the University of Minnesota, was also part of two squads that went to the NCAA Tournament.
Through ASU's first 10 games, Lacey is second on ASU in scoring (10.8 ppg) and first in rebounding (6.2 rpg). She led ASU with a career-best 19 points in its win over Iowa on Nov. 23 and would surpass that total with 20 against Auburn (Dec. 2). She would add a career-best 10 rebounds vs. UC Davis on Dec. 9. The leader in field goal percentage during her two seasons at Tennessee, Dosty has connected on 60.4 percent of her shots (29-48). She tied her career-best with 12 points in ASU's 60-58 win over Iowa on Nov. 30 and then would surpass that mark with 16 points in ASU's 78-60 win over Gonzaga on Nov. 30. She has tallied eight or more rebounds four times in ASU's last five games, including 11 against Fresno State (Dec. 17), which tied her career best.
SUN DEVILS WELCOME THE RETURN OF SIMON
In addition to gaining the services of Dosty and Lacey, the Sun Devils will also be benefiting from the return of sophomore Dymond Simon, who was named to the Pac-10's All-Freshman Team last season despite missing the second half of the Pac-10 season with a torn ACL.
'Dymond is a very special player who is critical in terms of our desires to take the next step as a program,' says ASU head coach Charli Turner Thorne. 'I think one of the strongest testaments to her ability as a player is the fact that the conference coaches still voted her onto the All-Freshman Team despite her missing the entire second half of the Pac-10 season.'
Prior to getting injured last season, Simon showed flashes of the brilliance that she used to helped lead her high school team to a pair of state championships. At the time of her injury, Simon was third on the team in scoring (9.7 points per game) and second on the team in steals (1.6 per game). Two weeks before getting injured, Simon was named the Pac-10 Player of the Week after averaging 20 points, 3.0 assists and 1.5 steals in ASU's wins vs. Washington State and Washington.
According to Turner Thorne, Simon has found ways to improve her game even while recovering from the injury.
'We always challenge players when they are out to work on something more than maybe they otherwise would be able to. True to Dymond and her amazing commitment to be the best basketball player she can be, she worked tirelessly on her shot and that is what people are going to notice right away. Her shot is fluid and it looks great.'
Simon has scored in double figures four times this season, including a season-best 17 points in ASU's win vs. Yale (Nov. 19). Simon scored 11 points in ASU's 73-69 loss at Texas Tech, however was forced to leave the game early after aggravating her knee injury. She missed ASU's most recent game against Fresno State on Dec. 17 and her status is currently day to day.
WHAT'S NEXT FOR CHARLI?
With its 67-49 win over Bowling Green in the Sweet Sixteen of the 2007 NCAA Tournament the Arizona State women's basketball team clinched its first ever appearance in the Elite Eight of the 'The Big Dance.' It was the latest `first time ...' for the Sun Devils under head coach Charli Turner Thorne, who continues to build on what is the most successful period in the program's history. Since the 2004-05 season the Sun Devils are 86-26, including a 6-3 record in NCAA Tournament games the last three seasons.
In 2005-06 Turner Thorne had the Sun Devils in the Top 10 of both polls for the first time 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. After leading the Sun Devils to a 25-7 in 2005-06 Turner Thorne was recognized being named the Russell Athletic/Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Region 8 Coach of the Year.
Now in her 12th 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 (163) in the Pac-10 Conference.
SUN DEVILS SIGN THREE
A pair of explosive posts from Southern California and a top guard from the Pacific Northwest, highlight the 2008 Arizona State women's basketball signing class announced by head coach Charli Turner Thorne. Kimberly Brandon, Alex Earl and Janae Fulcher signed letters of intent to study and compete at Arizona State.
A 6-2 forward, Brandon is an exceptional talent, whose versatility and explosiveness will benefit the Sun Devils right away in 2008-09. Brandon, who is ranked the No. 92 overall player in the country (No. 22 at her position) by hoopgurlz.com, will be coming to ASU from Chatsworth High School in Chatsworth, Calif., where in 2006-07 she averaged a double-double in points and rebounds in leading her team to the City Section title while earning all-league honors along the way.
A 5-10 guard, Earl has been a four-year member of the varsity squad at Southridge High School in Beaverton, Ore. The team leader in assists, steals and three-point field goals, Earl was named third-team all-state and first team all-league in 2007 following a season in which she helped lead the Skyhawks to their third consecutive 6A state title. A 2006-07 Street & Smith's Prep All-American Honorable Mention selection, Earl also earned all-league notice in 2005 and 2006, was named to the Oregon City `End of the Trail' All-Tournament Team in 2005 and 2006 (also earned MVP honors in '06), and played on Team Concept during the 2007 Nike Elite Regional Camp. In addition to her ability on the hardwood, Earl was also a four-year starter on Southridge's soccer team, earning second-team all-state honors in 2005 and first-team all-league honors in 2005 and 2007. Earl, whose father has coached basketball, was also a U.S. National Team member in 2004 and was on the Olympic Development Team for the state of Oregon for three years.
Fulcher will be coming to Tempe from Country Day High School in La Jolla, Calif., where the 6-3 post has averaged 9.3 points and 7.8 rebounds per game during her first three years on the varsity squad. Named team captain for the 2007-08 season, Fulcher is ranked the No. 15 post player by Girls Basketball Report in addition to being named an honorable mention All-American by The Sporting News and a McDonald's All-American nominee. Last season Fulcher averaged 12.4 points and 8.4 rebounds per game on her way to a bevy of honors, including All-CIF Div. IV First Team, UT All-San Diego Section First Team, Hall of Champions All-County First Team and Street & Smith's All-American Honorable Mention. Country Day would go on to be Coastal League champions and CIF SD Section Div. IV champions. In 2005-06, Fulcher nearly averaged a double-double every game with 9.9 points and 9.5 rebounds every time she stepped on the floor. She would go on to be named All-League First Team Coastal South, All-CIF Div. IV First Team and UT All-San Diego Section First Team in helping lead Country Day to Coastal League and CIF SD Section Div. IV titles before finishing as a Southern Regional runner-up.
The Sun Devils will have a week off before returning to action on Fri., Dec. 28 when they open up the Pac-10 portion of their schedule at home against UCLA. Game time is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.