ASU Women's Basketball Goes on the Road to Face Nebraska on Sunday
Dec. 27, 2008
After a one-week hiatus for the holidays, the No. 24 Arizona State women's basketball team returns to action on Sunday (noon CT/11 a.m. MT) when it goes on the road to take on Nebraska in what will be ASU's final non-conference game of the regular season.
The Sun Devils (8-3) enter Sunday's game having won five of their last six contests, most recently an impressive 75-57 win over Xavier on Dec. 21. Briann January scored 16 points and tied her season best with nine assists in the victory over the Musketeers. Also contributing to the win were Lauren Lacey (scored all 13 of her points in the second half) and Sybil Dosty (11 points, 6 rebounds, 5-6 FGs).
The Sun Devils were without starting junior guard Dymond Simon in their game against the Musketeers. Simon was not able to go after sustaining a foot injury in practice the day prior to the game. Senior guard Kate Engelbrect replaced Simon, who is expected to play on Sunday after returning to practice on Dec. 26.
Nebraska brings an identical 8-3 record into Sunday's matchup. The Cornhuskers have gone 3-3 in their last six games since beginning the season with a 5-0 record. In its last game before the holiday break Nebraska fell on the road to 2008 Conference USA champion UTEP 63-53. Nebraska has been led by junior forward Cory Montgomery (14.4 ppg/8.2 rpg), sophomore guard Dominique Kelley (10.1 ppg, 3.1 apg) and junior guard Yvonne Turner (10.6 ppg).
This will be the second time in three seasons that ASU and Nebraska have met. The Sun Devils opened the 2006-07 campaign with an 87-60 win over the Cornhuskers. ASU will be making its third appearance in Lincoln and its first since the 1992-93 season opener which it lost 86-79.
After Sunday's game the Sun Devils will turn their attention to the Pac-10 portion of their schedule. They open up conference play next week when they host No. 11 Stanford (Fri., Jan. 2) and No. 13 California (Sun., Jan. 4).
ON THE AIR
ASU's game at Nebraska can be seen live on Fox Sports Net. Kevin Eschenfelder (play-play-play) and Brenda VanLengen (analysis) will call the game The contest can also be heard live on KAZG 1440 AM and on the Sun Devil Sports Network (subscription-based service that can be accessed via www.thesundevils.com). Coverage will begin at 10:30 a.m. 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 8-3 the Sun Devils are currently 24th in the AP poll and 22nd in the coaches poll.
This will be the seventh all-time meeting between the Sun Devils and Cornhuskers. The teams have split their first six meetings with the most recent contest going to ASU, 87-60 in Tempe, in the 2006-07 season opener. Seven members of ASU's current squad played in that game, including Danielle Orsillo, who came off the bench to score 13 points and Briann January who had eight points, four steals and three assists.
ASU began the week ranked No. 2 in the nation in 3-point field goal shooting percentage (.423) and No. 3 in assists (18.7 per game). The Sun Devils were also ranked 13th in both overall field goal percentage (.459) and steals per game (12.6).
Currently the Sun Devils are first in the Pac-10 in three-point field goal shooting percentage (.423), rebounding defense (28.5 rpg), assists (18.7 apg) and steals (12.6 spg) and are second in field goal percentage (.459), blocks (4.3 bpg) and assist-to-turnover ratio.
In their last five contests the Sun Devils have held their opponents to 54.2 point per game.
Briann January needs 11 more assists to become ASU's all-time leader. She tied her season-best with nine assists against Xavier (Dec. 21), the fifth time this season she has had six or more assists in a game. January currently leads the Pac-10 in assists and is 22nd in the nation, averaging 5.5 per game.
Currently with 228 career steals, January needs four more steals to pass Stephanie Freeman for third place and six to pass Carrie Buckner for second on ASU's all-time lists.
Senior forward Lauren Lacey has hit 60 percent of her shots (9-15) in ASU's last two games, including 75 percent of her 3-point FGs (3-4).
Juniors Kayli Murphy and Dymond Simon will be reunited with former teammate and current Nebraska junior guard Nicole Neals. The trio played together at St. Mary's High School in Phoenix where they helped the Knights win a pair of state titles.
Junior guard Jazlyn Davis saw her first action as a Sun Devil in ASU's 68-45 win over UC Riverside on Dec. 14. She scored nine points in 16 minutes in ASU's win over Havier (Dec. 21). 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.
ASU's leading rebounder last season, senior Sybil Dosty has continued to lead the Sun Devils in boards this season and is currently fifth in the Pac-10, averaging 7.6 rebounds per game. Dosty had her fourth double-digit rebounding performance of the season with 12 at Texas on Dec. 18, including seven offensive boards. Dosty has averaged 10.6 points and 8.4 rebounds in ASU's last five games and has connected on 69 percent of her shots (24-35) during that span.
Going back to the start of the 2006-07 season, the Sun Devils are 43-5 when they outrebound their opponent, including a 6-2 record this season.
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. This season the Sun Devils have accounted for several single-game defensive superlatives in the Pac-10, including fewest points (23), fewest field goals (9 - tied with Oregon State), fewest field goal attempts (38) and fewest rebounds (19 - twice).
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 11 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 18.7 assists per game. The Sun Devils have dished out 20 or more assists four times this season, including a season-best 30 assists vs. Northern Arizona (Dec. 7), the most by any team in the Pac-10 this season.
JANUARY CONTINUES TO DISTINGUISH HERSELF AS ONE OF THE BEST IN THE COUNTRY
Undoubtedly one of the integral components of ASU's success in recent years has been the play of senior Briann January. Since she arrived in Tempe in 2005, the 5-8 guard from Spokane, Wash., has proven time and again to be one of the most explosive players in the nation on both ends of the floor. Last season January was named the first ever Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year in addition to earning Second-Team All-Pac-10 honors for a campaign in which she finished first in the Pac-10 in steals (2.18 spg) and free throw percentage (.864), third in assists (4.39 apg), fifth in assist-to-turnover ratio and 15th in scoring. Earlier this season January was recognized for her outstanding play in being one of six women's college basketball players around the country to share (along with All-America candidate sophomore James Harden from the Arizona State men's basketball team) a regional cover of Sports Illustrated's College Basketball Preview. Thus far in 2008 January has experienced anything but an SI jinx as she currently leads the Pac-10 in assists per game (5.5) and steals per game (3.3), is second in three-point FG pct (.467) and assist-to-turnover ratio, third in 3-point FGs per game (2.5), sixth in free throw pct. (.850) and tied for eighth in scoring (14.0 ppg). In ASU's last five games she has averaged 12.0 points, 5.2 assists and 3.4 steals and has made all but one free throw (14-15). January is steadily making her way up ASU's lists of all-time leaders in assists, steals and free throws. Currently is second in assists (431, she needs 11 more to pass Jodi Rathbun as ASU's all-time assists leader), fourth in steals (228, needs four to pass Stephanie Freeman for fourth place and six to pass Carrie Buckner for second) and fifth in free throws (334, needs three to pass Karen O'Connor for fifth place).
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 six games, however, Orsillo has scored 10.3 points per game and has connected on 47 percent (9-19) of her 3-point field goals. 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).
SUN DEVILS SIGN THREE
Two local standouts who have achieved exceptional success and a top-notch guard from California highlighted the 2008 women's basketball signing class for Arizona State announced by Sun Devil head coach Charli Turner Thorne in November. Joy Burke, Deja Mann and Markisha Patterson all signed letters of intent to study and play basketball at ASU.
A 6-foot-5 post player, Burke was named to The Arizona Republic's All-Arizona team in 2008 in addition to earning second-team All-Tribune honors from the East Valley Tribune following a season in which she led Tempe Marcos de Niza to the state quarterfinals. During her decorated junior season, Burke averaged 19.8 points, 14.5 rebounds and 5.5 blocks per game.
A 5-foot-8 combo guard, Mann will be joining the Sun Devils from Merced High School in Merced, Calif. Mann, who was sidelined because of injury her junior season, had an outstanding sophomore campaign in which she averaged nearly 16 points, 10 rebounds, four steals and three assists per game on her way to being named the Central California Conference MVP. Mann, who averaged 14.1 points per game as a freshman, also starred on the Modesto Magic club team this past summer. An outstanding shooter, Mann ranked No. 25 on hoopgurlz.com's best 'Gunners' of the summer.
A 5-foot-8 guard, Patterson will be coming to ASU from Central Arizona College where last season she helped lead her team to a runner-up finish at the National Junior College Athletic Association championships. Known as a defensive specialist at Central Arizona, Patterson is very familiar with what it takes to win championships. In 2007, she helped lead Tolleson High School to the Class 5A Division II state title after she scored 19 points and grabbed 17 rebounds in the championship game.