ASU Women's Basketball Hosts UCLA in Special Sparky's Kids to College Field Trip Game
Jan. 14, 2009
After earning a pair of wins to even its conference record, the Arizona State women's basketball team returns to action on Thursday morning when it hosts the UCLA Bruins in the program's third annual `Sparky's Kids to College Field Trip Day.'
Now in its third season, `Sparky's Kids to College Field Trip Day,' is an initiative designed to introduce grade-school children to a college campus. Upwards of 6,000 fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade children are expected to attend Thursday's game.
After dropping their first two Pac-10 games by a combined four points to Stanford (64-61) and California (54-53) the Sun Devils (10-6, 2-2 Pac-10) bounced back with a pair of impressive performances last week in wins over Oregon State (61-36) and Oregon (81-53). Senior Lauren Lacey came off the bench to lead the Sun Devils, averaging 14.5 points for the weekend, including a season-high 19 points in Saturday's win at Oregon. Also scoring in double figures for the Sun Devils against Oregon were freshman Kimberly Brandon, who scored a career-best 11 points to go along with career-best numbers in rebounds (6) and steals (2), and Kayli Murphy and Orsillo, who added 10 points each.
UCLA (11-3, 2-1 Pac-10) comes into Thursday's game having won two of its first three Pac-10 contests, including an 87-75 win in its most recent outing against crosstown rival USC on Sunday. The Bruins have been led by sophomore Doreena Campbell (12.1 ppg, 4.6 rpg , 3.9 apg), who is the current reigning Pac-10 Player of the Week after scoring 20 points and grabbing a career-best nine rebounds in the win over USC.
Thursday's game begins a three-game homestand for the Sun Devils. On Saturday ASU will host USC at 4 p.m. MT in a game that will be nationally televised by Fox Sports Net. ASU will complete its current homestand next Saturday when it hosts in-state rival Arizona (noon MT) in a game that will also be televised by Fox Sports Net.
ON THE AIR
Arizona State's game vs. UCLA can be heard live on KAZG 1440 AM. Pre-game coverage will begin at 10:30 a.m. in the Valley. Veteran broadcaster Jeff Munn is in his fifth year as the voice of ASU women's basketball.
Although UCLA has won 41 of the 63 all-time meetings, ASU has been dominant in recent years with wins in nine of the last 11 meetings, including the last five in succession. Sybil Dosty (15.0 ppg, 12.0 rpg) and Lauren Lacey (14.5 ppg, 7.0 rpg) combined to average 29.5 points and 21.5 rebounds in last season's wins over UCLA (62-59 in Tempe and 73-67 in Los Angeles). In 2006-07 the Sun Devils swept all three contests, winning 92-52 in Tempe, 80-69 in Los Angeles and 74-64 in the quarterfinals of the Pac-10 Tournament in San Jose.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
This will be the third time in as many seasons that the ASU women's basketball has hosted Sparky's Kids to College Field Trip Day. UCLA (Jan. 18, 2007) and Fresno State (Dec. 17, 2007) provided the opposition on the previous two occasions, both Sun Devil victories.
The Sun Devils have won 79 percent (46-12) of their Pac-10 contests since the 2005-06 season. This week the Sun Devils return home where they are 32-6 (.842) since the 2004-05 season.
The Sun Devils currently lead the Pac-10 in three-point FG percent (.399) and rebounds allowed per game (29.6) and are second in field goal percentage (.453), blocked shots (4.0 bpg), assists (17.9 apg), turnover margin (+4.0), steals per game (11.3) and assist-to-turnover ratio. In the most recent NCAA statistics (Jan. 12), ASU was fifth in three-point field goal percentage and sixth in assists per game.
ASU has allowed an average of only 47.3 points in its last three contests.
With five assists against California on Jan. 4, senior guard Briann January became ASU's all-time assists leader. January now has 457 assists in her career. With 234 career steals January is currently second on ASU's all-time list. Entering this week, January leads the Pac-10 in assists (5.4 apg, No. 27 in the nation), steals (2.7 spg, No. 44 in the nation) and assist-to-turnover ratio (No. 15 in the nation) and is second in 3-point FG pct. (.468, No. 9 in the nation).
Junior guard Dymond Simon is currently tied for first on the team in scoring with January (12.5 ppg) and is second to January in three-point FGs (22) and assists (3.0) and is first in the Pac-10 in free throw shooting percentage (.933).
Senior forward Lauren Lacey has made 58 percent of her shots in ASU's last seven games, including 63 percent (5-8) from beyond the arc. In her most recent outing at Oregon on Saturday, Lacey scored a season-best 19 points on 9-of 13 shooting.
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 7.8 rebounds per game. Dosty had her sixth double-digit rebounding performance of the season with 11 against Stanford on Jan. 2. Five of Dosty's six double-digit scoring performances this season have come in ASU's last 10 games, including a 12-point outing at Oregon State on Jan. 8 in which she scored 10 points in the second half.
RESERVATIONS FOR THREE
Coming into the 2008-09 season, ASU head coach Charli Turner Thorne said she expected the Sun Devils to have an improved perimeter game from last season when they shot slightly more than 33 percent from beyond the arc. 'We were an ok perimeter shooting team last year; but not great,' Turner Thorne said before the season. 'I think this might be one of the best perimeter shooting teams we have had in my tenure at ASU.' Thus far it would appear the Sun Devils have proven Turner Thorne right as they are currently first in the Pac-10 and No. 5 in the nation in 3-point shooting percentage (.399). Currently with 91 three-point FGs this season the Sun Devils are on pace to shatter the school's single-season record of 135 triples set by the 2004-05 team. Leading the way are guards Briann January (36), Dymond Simon (22) and Danielle Orsillo (13), who have combined for 71 of ASU's 91 triples.
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 22 times. This season the Sun Devils have accounted for several single-game defensive superlatives in the Pac-10, including fewest points (23), lowest field goal percentage (.209), fewest field goals (9 - tied with Oregon State), fewest field goal attempts (38), fewest three-point field goals made (0) and attempted (5) and fewest rebounds (19 - twice). In addition, the Sun Devils have held the opposition to 20 or fewer points in a half seven times this season, including their win over Oregon State (Jan. 8) in which the Sun Devils held the Beavers to 14 points in the second half to turn a four-point halftime lead (26-22) into a 25-point win (61-36).
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 16 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 sixth in the country averaging 17.9 assists per game. The Sun Devils have dished out 20 or more assists five times this season, including a season-best 30 assists vs. Northern Arizona (Dec. 7), the second-highest single-game total in the Pac-10 this season.
SIMON SAYS ...
Like fellow guard Danielle Orsillo, junior Dymond Simon knows the experience of having to rebound from a season ending injury. In 2006-07, Simon quickly made a name for herself as one of the top freshman in the Pac-10 before a knee injury ended her season midway through the conference season. In 2007-08 Simon played in 30 games, as she tirelessly worked to regain her high level of play while at the same time still enduring effects from the injury. By the time last March rolled around Simon was once again at the top of her game, earning All-Pac-10 Tournament recognition after averaging 14.5 points and 3.5 assists in ASU's two tournament games, including a season-best 22 points in the semifinals against Cal. Fast forward to this season and Simon, who has averaged 13.3 points in her last six games, has helped to give the Sun Devils one of the top backcourts in the country. Simon has scored in double figures 12 times in 15 games this season, including a season-best 21 points at Texas (Dec. 18). She is currently tied for first on the team in scoring with Briann January (12.5 ppg), is second to January in three-point FGs (22) and assists (3.0) and is first in the Pac-10 in free throw shooting percentage (.933).
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 on 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 (5.4), steals per game (2.7) and assist to turnover ratio, is second in three-point FG pct (.468), fourth in 3-point FGs per game (2.3), seventh in free throw pct. (.808) and tied for eighth in scoring (12.5 ppg). Already ASU's all-time leader in career assists (457), January is steadily making her way up the list of ASU's all-time leaders in steals and free throws. Currently she is second in steals (234, needs 57 steals to catch all-time leader Cassandra Lander) and fourth in free throws (342, needs 11 to pass Emily Westerberg for third place).
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.