No. 21 ASU Women's Basketball Goes on the Road to Face No. 5 Texas on Thursday
Dec. 17, 2008
Currently riding a four-game winning streak, the No. 21 Arizona State women's basketball team begins an arduous five-game stretch this Thursday (7 p.m. CT/6 p.m. MT) when it goes on the road to face the No. 5 Texas Longhorns. Thursday's game at Texas will mark the second time this season the Sun Devils have faced a top-five team from the Big 12 on the road. Last month ASU fell to then-No. 2 Oklahoma 70-57 in the semifinals of the WNIT.
The Sun Devils' recent success has been the product of a stingier defense which in their last four games has given up 12.2 fewer points (60.2-48.0) and knocked their opponents' shooting percentage down by nearly five whole percentage points (.393-.442). Included in ASU's current winning streak was a 75-23 triumph over UC Irvine in which the Sun Devils set the Pac-10 record for the fewest points ever allowed by a conference team.
On the offensive side, three Sun Devils - senior guard Briann January (15.0 ppg), and junior guards Dymond Simon (12.8 ppg) and Danielle Orsillo (10.5 ppg) - have averaged double figures in scoring during the streak. As a team ASU has shot .485 in its last four games (.445 in first five), including .456 from long distance (.364 in first five).
Texas has won all nine of its contests this year, most recently defeating the then-No. 7 Tennessee Lady Vols 73-59 in Austin on Sunday. The Longhorns have won 15 of their last 17 contests going back to last season with their only setbacks coming to ranked foes Oklahoma State (2008 Big 12 Championship semis) and UConn (2008 NCAA second round). Six of Texas' nine wins have come at home this season where they are 17-3 under second-year head coach Gail Goestenkors.
This week's game is a rematch of last year's contest won by Texas 62-51 in Tempe. January tied her then-career-best with 22 points against the Longhorns. Dymond Simon (injured) did not play in last year's game. ASU became even more short-handed at guard during the game as senior guard Reagan Pariseau suffered what was later diagnosed as a concussion in the opening minutes of the game and fellow senior guard Jill Noe left the game due to injury with nine minutes remaining.
Following Thursday's game the Sun Devils return home to face Xavier (8-3) on Sunday. After the holiday break ASU will then go back on the road to take on Nebraska (8-2) before returning home to open up the Pac-10 portion of its schedule with assignments against Stanford (7-2) and Cal (8-2). The aggregate record of ASU's next five opponents (as of Dec. 17) is 40-9 (.816).
ON THE AIR
Arizona State's game at Texas can be heard live on The Fan AM 1060 and on the Sun Devil Sports Network (subscription-based service that can be accessed via www.thesundevils.com). Coverage will begin at 6 p.m. in Arizona. Valley veteran broadcaster Jeff Munn is in his fifth year as the voice of ASU women's basketball.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
ASU returns 11 players, including three starters -- guards Briann January and senior posts Sybil Dosty and Lauren Lacey -- from last season's team which went 22-11 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Sun Devils were ranked No. 17 and No. 18 in the preseason polls for the Associated Press and ESPN/WBCA Coaches, respectively. Now 7-2 the Sun Devils are currently 21st in both polls.
As of Dec. 17, the Sun Devils led the Pac-10 in 3-point FG pct. (.410), rebounds allowed per game (27.4), assists per game (18.9), steals per game (13.4) and turnover margin (+6.0) and were second in scoring defense (54.8 ppg), free throw pct. (.742), field goal pct. (.463) and blocked shots per game (4.0 bpg).
During their current four-game winning streak the Sun Devils have outscored their opponents by an average of 28.8 points (76.8-48.0) and held a +13.5 advantage in rebounding (38.5-25.0). During that same span, the Sun Devils have also had overwhelming advantages in steals per game (+8.0/13.3-5.3) and assists per game (+12.2/21.5-9.3). Also during the streak ... Senior guard Briann January has connected on 60 percent of her shots (18-30), including 56 percent (14-25) from beyond the arc, and 91 percent of her free throws (10-11)... Senior post Sybil Dosty has connected on 80 percent of her field goal attempts (16-20)... Sophomore post Becca Tobin has averaged 8.8 rebounds, including a career-best 13 rebounds vs. UC Riverside (Dec. 14), the most rebounds by a Sun Devil this season... January (15-9) and fellow guards Dymond Simon (17-5), Nia Fanaika (14-3) and Kate Engelbrecht (10-3) have combined for an assist-to-turnover ratio of 56-20, or nearly 3-1.
January needs 27 mores assists to become ASU's all-time leader. She currently leads the Pac-10 in steals per game (3.6), is second in assists per game (4.9), assist-to-turnover ratio and 3-point FG pct. (.489), third in 3-point FGs per game (2.6) and is seventh in scoring (14.3 ppg).
In her first three games of the season junior post Kayli Murphy has hit 70 percent of her shots (7-10). Murphy missed ASU's first six games of the season with a hand injury. She made her first start of the season and fifth of her career against UC Riverside (Dec. 14).
Junior guard Dymond Simon is one of two players in the Pac-10 (per minimums) who has yet to miss a free throw (20-20). Mercedes Fox-Griffin of Oregon State has hit all 15 of her free throw attempts.
Going back to the start of the 2006-07 season, the Sun Devils are 43-4 when they outrebound their opponent, including a 5-1 record this season.
ASU's leading rebounder last season, senior Sybil Dosty has continued to lead the Sun Devils in boards this season and is currently sixth in the Pac-10, averaging 7.3 rebounds per game.
Junior guard Jazlyn Davis saw her first action as a Sun Devil in ASU's 68-45 win over UC Riverside on Dec. 14. Davis, a 5-9 guard, transferred to ASU last April from Mt. San Antonio College (Walnut, Calif.) where she earned JC/CC All-America honors in 2008.
YOU CAN'T SPELL DEVILS WITHOUT `D'
If there is one thing ASU head coach Charli Turner Throrne's teams have become known for over the years it is defense. The Sun Devils offered another reminder of their excellence in defending on Dec. 6 when they defeated UC Irvine 75-23 to set the single-game Pac-10 record for the fewest points ever allowed by a Pac-10 team. It's the second time in as many seasons that the Sun Devils have set a conference record for fewest points in a game. Last season the Sun Devils set the standard for the fewest points allowed in a Pac-10 game in their 59-30 win over Washington State. Since the 2005-06 season the Sun Devils have held the opposition to 50 or fewer points 21 times.
IT'S BETTER TO GIVE THAN RECEIVE
Finishing 12th in the country in any statistical category would usually be considered great by most standards. That is unless of course a team is used to higher standards. After finishing among the nation's top 5 in assists in 2005-06 and 2006-07, the Sun Devils slipped to 12th last season. If the season's first nine games are any indication it would appear that the Sun Devils have returned to the nation's elite in the category. At the start of the week ASU led the Pac-10 and was third in the country averaging 18.9 assists per game. The Sun Devils have dished out 20 or more assists three times this season, including a season-best 30 assists vs. Northern Arizona (Dec. 7).
ORSILLO STEADILY REGAINING HER GAME
Junior guard Danielle Orsillo has steadily started returning to the form that had so many excited last season before her season ending knee injury. A starter in every game thus far in 2008, Orsillo averaged 3.8 points (18.3 minutes per game) in her first five games back. In her last four games, however, Orsillo has scored 10.5 points per game (17.5 minutes per game) and has connected on 46 percent of her shots, including 58 percent (7-12) from beyond the arc. Orsillo was named to the ASU Classic's All-Tournament Team scoring a season-best 16 points in ASU's win over Northern Arizona (Dec. 7).