No. 18 Sun Devils Play for Share of the Pac-10 Title at No. 2 Stanford on Saturday
March 6, 2009
The No. 18 Arizona State women’s basketball team will look to claim a share of the regular season Pac-10 championship on Saturday (12:30 p.m. PT/1:30 p.m. MT) when it faces second-ranked Stanford in Palo Alto, Calif.
The Sun Devils (23-6, 15-2 Pac-10) earned the right to play for the league title following a convincing 63-41 win over No. 9 California on Thursday night. Dymond Simon scored a game-high 15 points and Danielle Orsiilo added 13 for ASU, which had a season-low seven turnovers. Defensively, the Sun Devils held the Golden Bears to season lows in points (41), field goals (14), field goal attempts (44) and assists (7).
Stanford (25-4, 16-1 Pac-10) clinched at least a share of the regular season Pac-10 title following its 70-67 win over Arizona on Thursday night. The Cardinal has four players averaging double figures in points led by junior F/C Jayne Appel, who is third in the Pac-10 in scoring (15.0 ppg) and second in rebounding (9.1 rpg).
Following Saturday’s game the Sun Devils will focus their attention on the Pac-10 Tournament which takes place next week at the Galen Center in Los Angeles. Stanford has already clinched the top seed (would win tiebreaker with ASU based on overall record). A win over Stanford on Saturday would guarantee the Sun Devils the No. 2 seed in the tourney.
ON THE AIR
ASU’s game at Stanford can be seen live on Fox Sports Net. Jim Watson (play-play-play) and Mary Murphy (analysis) will call the game. The contest can also be heard live on The Fan AM 1060. Coverage will begin at 1 p.m. in the Valley. Veteran broadcaster Jeff Munn is in his fifth year as the voice of ASU women’s basketball.
Stanford holds a 46-11 advantage in the all-time series with Arizona State. The Cardinal has won the last six meetings and 10 of the last 12 overall, including a 64-61 win on Jan. 2 in Tempe. Briann January provided the Sun Devils with a strong all-around effort, scoring 21 points (7-10 FGs) while also accumulating four assists and three steals. Fellow guard Dymond Simon added 11 points and center Sybil Dosty had 11 rebounds for the Sun Devils, who led by as many as 14 points in the second half. Stanford swept both meetings last season – 60-56 in Tempe and 79-57 in Palo Alto.
ASU’s last win in the series came on February 16, 2005, a 62-59 decision against then-11th-ranked Stanford in Tempe.
Seven of the last eight meetings between the teams have been decided by single digits.
The Sun Devils defeated the Cardinal 70-63 in the final of the inaugural Pac-10 Women’s Basketball Tournament in 2002. ASU’s lone victory at Stanford came during the 1983-84 season when the Sun Devils defeated Stanford 84-72 on March 3, 1984.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
• Arizona State is currently on a school record 15-game winning streak. Among teams ranked in this week’s AP Top 25, only No. 1 Connecticut (30) has won more consecutive games than ASU.
• With a win on Saturday the Sun Devils would tie for a share of the regular season Pac-10 title. It would be ASU’s second regular season Pac-10 crown. ASU, Washington and Stanford tied for the league championship in 2001 after each squad finished Pac-10 play with a 12-6 record.
• Currently 23-6, the Sun Devils have now won 20 or more games seven times in the last nine seasons, including the last five in a row. ASU head coach Charli Turner Thorne joins former Washington head coach Chris Gobrecht and current Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer as the only other coaches in Pac-10 history (since the 1986-87 season) to have led their respective schools to five (or more) consecutive 20-win seasons.
• ASU has won 83 percent (59-12) of its Pac-10 contests since the 2005-06 season. On Saturday the Sun Devils are on the road, where they are a combined 27-3 in their last 30 Pac-10 road contests.
• In the most recent NCAA statistics (Mar. 6), ASU was third in the nation in three-point FG percentage (.403), fifth in assists per game (17.1), 11th in field goal percentage (.456) and scoring margin (+15.7), 16th in scoring defense (54.1 ppg) and 18th in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.00). The Sun Devils currently lead the Pac-10 in three-point FG percentage and turnover margin (+4.4) and are second in field goal percentage, scoring defense, free throw percentage (.739), assists per game, blocked shots per game (4.3), steals per game (10.6) and assist-to-turnover ratio.
• During ASU’s current 15-game winning streak the Sun Devils have allowed only 50.6 points per game (40.2 ppg in last four contests) and are outscoring their opponents by an average of 18.9 points. In addition, ASU is allowing an average of only 21.4 points in the first half of its last 15 games (14.3 points and 21 percent shooting in the first half of last three games).
• In its win over No. 9 Cal on Thursday the Sun Devils held the Golden Bears to 41 points, which tied Cal’s lowest point total of the season. California became the sixth Pac-10 team to score its fewest points of the season against the Sun Devils.
• Five of ASU’s six losses this season have come to teams currently ranked in the top 25 of the current Associated Press poll – No. 2 Stanford, No. 3 Oklahoma, No. 9 California, No. 15 Texas and No. 21 Florida – including three of the current AP Top 10. Three of those five losses – Florida (65-60), Stanford (64-61) and California (54-53) – came by a combined nine points.
• In their win over Oregon State on Feb. 7, the Sun Devils broke the school single-season record for most blocks (102). ASU currently has 123 rejections on the season. Sybil Dosty (40) and Becca Tobin (32) have combined for 72 of those blocks.
• In their win vs. Washington on Feb. 26, the Sun Devils broke the school single-season record for most 3-point field goals (135). ASU has now made 149 3-pointers this season.
• With five assists against California on Jan. 4, senior guard Briann January became ASU’s all-time assists leader. She currently has 506 assists in her career. With 258 career steals January is currently second on ASU’s all-time list. Entering Saturday’s game, January is third in the nation in 3-point FG percentage (.464) and 11th in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.08). She leads the Pac-10 in assists per game (4.7), 3-point FG percentage (.464) and assist to turnover ratio, is second in steals per game (2.3), is fourth in free throw percent (.833) and 3-point FGs per game (2.0) and 14th in scoring (11.8 ppg).
• Currently with 58 3-point field goals, January needs three more triples to break ASU’s single-season record of 60 set by Amanda Levens in 2000-01.
• Dymond Simon, who was named the Pac-10’s Player of the Week on Feb. 2, has led the Sun Devils in scoring during their current winning streak (15.0 ppg).
• 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 7.1 rebounds per game. Currently third on ASU’s all-time list with 80 career blocks, Dosty needs 20 blocks to pass Fran Ciak (1987-90) for second place on the list.
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. 3 in the nation in 3-point shooting percentage (.403). Currently with 149 3-point FGs this season the Sun Devils have already broken the previous school record of 135 triples set by the 2004-05 team. Leading the way are guards Briann January (58), Dymond Simon (36) and Danielle Orsillo (26), who have combined for 120 of ASU’s 149 triples. Earlier this season the Sun Devils hit a school record 14 3-pointers in a 73-59 win at UC Davis. Leading the way was January, who tied the school record with seven makes from downtown.
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 27 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 - twice) and attempted (2 - twice), most blocks (10 - tied with Arizona) and fewest rebounds (19 - twice - tied with Oregon State). In addition, the Sun Devils have held the opposition to 20 or fewer points in a half 14 times this season, including their win over Washington (Feb. 26) in which the Sun Devils held the Huskies to eight points in the first half, setting the school record for the fewest points ever allowed in a half. Also, six of ASU’s nine Pac-10 opponent have either scored their fewest points of the season against ASU or tied for their lowest points total of the season: Arizona (38), California (41), Oregon State (36), UCLA (44), Washington (32) and Washington State (35).
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. Through 29 games it would appear that the Sun Devils have returned to the nation’s elite in the category. Currently ASU is fifth in the country averaging 17.1 assists per game. The Sun Devils have dished out 20 or more assists seven 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.
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.
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 2008-09 January has experienced anything but an SI jinx as she currently leads the Pac-10 in assists per game (4.7), 3-point FG percentage (.464) and assist to turnover ratio, is second in steals per game (2.3) and fourth in free throw percent (.833) and fourth in 3-point FGs per game (2.0). Already ASU’s all-time leader in career assists (506), January is steadily making her way up the list of ASU’s all-time leaders in steals, free throws and points. Currently she is second in steals (258, needs 33 steals to catch all-time leader Cassandra Lander), third in free throws (375, needs 13 to pass Kym Hampton for second place) and eighth in scoring (needs 19 points to pass Robin Connolly for seventh place). Currently with 58 3-point field goals, January needs three more triples to break ASU’s single-season record of 60 set by Amanda Levens in 2000-01.
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 has helped to give the Sun Devils one of the top backcourts in the country. Simon has scored in double figures 24 times in 28 games this season, including a season-best 22 points vs. USC (Jan. 17). On Feb. 2 Simon was named the Pac-10’s Player of the Week after averaging 15.5 points and 4.5 assists in wins at Washington State and at Washington. She is currently first on the team in scoring (14.1 ppg), is second to fellow guard Briann January in three-point FGs (36), assists (3.4 apg) and steals (1.4 spg) and is first in the Pac-10 and 12th in the nation in free throw shooting percentage (.882).
THE CENTER OF ATTENTION
One of the central figures in the success of ASU’s interior game has been center Sybil Dosty. The senior from Tucson, Ariz., transferred to ASU in 2005 after spending her first two seasons at the University of Tennessee. In her first season as a Sun Devil in 2007-08 Dosty finished first on the team in both rebounding (6.4 rpg) and field goal percentage (.540) while at the same time accumulating the fourth-highest single-season block total (40) in school history. This season Dosty has continued to build on last year’s success as she currently leads the team in rebounding (7.1 rpg) and blocks (1.4 bpg), is third in field goal percent (.548) and fourth in scoring (8.4 ppg). At her current rebounding pace Dosty would become only the third Sun Devil since 1996 to average more than seven rebounds per game. Currently third on ASU’s all-time list with 80 career blocks, Dosty needs 20 blocks to pass Fran Ciak (1987-90) for second place on the list. Dosty’s 40 blocks this season currently rank fourth in ASU’s single-season annals. She needs five blocks to move into third place.