Women's Basketball To Open Exhibition Season Sunday Afternoon at Wells Fargo Arena

Oct. 31, 2001

TEMPE, Ariz. - Fresh off their first ever Pac-10 Championship season and their first NCAA Tournament appearance in nine year, sixth-year head coach Charli Turner Thorne and her Arizona State Sun Devils open the 2001-02 season with higher expectations than ever before. With seven returning letterwinners, including four starters and three All-Pac-10 performers from one season ago, in addition to a crop of four talented freshmen, the Sun Devils look to improve upon the 2000-01 campaign which will go down in the history books as one of the best in school history. Arizona State finished last season with a 20-11 overall record and a school-record 12-6 mark in the Pac-10 en route to winning a share of the Sun Devils' first ever Pac-10 Championship and the school's first NCAA Tournament bid since 1992-93, facing 18th-ranked LSU in the first round. The Sun Devils open the exhibition season with a game against Team Concept, an AAU club squad of former college athletes, Sunday, Nov. 4 at Wells Fargo Arena. Team Concept opens its tour at Northern Arizona on Nov. 3 before heading to Tempe.

ASU in the Exhibition SeasonThe Sun Devils are 6-6 in exhibition games under sixth-year head coach Charli Turner Thorne. Last year, the Sun Devils earned a split in their exhibition contests, falling to the Chinese National Team 81-69 on Nov. 5 and defeating Cassovia Bardejov (Kosice, Slovakia) 80-73 on Nov. 11.

Ch...Ch...ChangesThe Sun Devils were originally scheduled to play the Auckland National Team, a team out of New Zealand in their first exhibition matchup, but that team pulled out of their American tour due to security concerns in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States. Then, Slavyanka, a team from Chelyabinsk, Russia, was slated to replace the Auckland National Team, but that team was not granted visas to tour the United States.

According to Basketball Travelers, an Edmonds, Wash., company that books foreign teams for exhibition games, they have had eight teams cancel their U.S. tours because of safety concerns and visa issues, and over 20 backup teams turn down tour opportunities.

A Look Ahead at the Season OpenerArizona State tips off the regular season on Saturday, Nov. 17 against St. Peter's at 2:30 p.m. at Wells Fargo Arena. That Nov. 17 game is part of an ASU sports tripleheader with the men's basketball team taking on Stephen F. Austin at 11:30 a.m. and the volleyball team taking on California at 7:30 p.m.

St. Peter's returns two starters and seven letterwinners from last year's 17-11 team, which finished fourth in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference last season. The Peahens' leading returning scorer and rebounder is senior forward Felicia Harris who averaged 12.6 points and 6.7 rebounds last year, while the team will also gain the services of a pair of Division I transfers who sat out last season in Tanesha Seaton (Kentucky) and Kara Leslie (New Hampshire).

The Sun Devils will play three home games in five days in mid-November, opening with St. Peter's on Nov. 17 and then taking on Delaware State on Nov. 19 and Loyola Marymount on Nov. 21. The team then heads to the 2001 Paradise Jam in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands Nov. 24-26, taking on Western Michigan, Richmond and Kansas State.

Tough SlateThis season, Arizona State will play 11 games against six teams that advanced to the NCAA Tournament or the Women's National Invitation Tournament last year. NCAA qualifiers on the 2001-02 slate include Oregon, Stanford and Washington, while Loyola Marymount, Arizona and Oregon State advanced to the WNIT. The Sun Devils also have a chance to take on NCAA qualifier and Big East powerhouse Rutgers in the second round of the ASU Holiday Classic.

In the PollsThe Sun Devils have shown up in several of the preseason polls that have been released so far this season. The last time Arizona State was ranked in the preseason was in 1992-93 when the team was listed at ninth in the Basketball Times preseason poll. Here is a look at where the 2001-02 Sun Devils are ranked in some of the preseason polls:

	Basketball Times - 17th	Athlon's - 17th	Women's Basketball Journal - 17th	Lindy's - 24th	Associated Press - to be released Nov. 6

Pac-10 Conference HonoreesThe Sun Devils return a trio of all-conference performers from one season ago, including senior center Melody Johnson and senior guard Amanda Levens who were named to the All-Pac-10 Conference first team, marking the first time in school history that ASU has had two players earn first-team accolades. Arizona was the only other school to have two first-team selections last year. Freshman guard/forward Betsy Boardman was named to the five-player Freshman All-Pac-10 squad, marking the third consecutive season that the Sun Devils have had a player named to the all-rookie team. In addition, three Sun Devils earned Academic All-Pac-10 honors with junior Leah Combs becoming ASU's first first-team selection since 1990.

Head coach Charli Turner Thorne was named the 2001 Pac-10 Conference Coach of the Year as selected by the league's coaches, ASU's first such honor, and was one of eight finalists for the 2001 Russell Athletic/WBCA Division I National Coach of the Year Award. As a finalist, Turner Thorne earned the distinction of WBCA District 8 Coach of the Year as selected by WBCA member coaches from that geographical region.

Home-Court AdvantageWith a 12-3 home mark in 2000-01, ASU tied the school record for home victories at Wells Fargo Arena, while the team's 80.0 winning percentage in each of the last two seasons ranks second in school history behind the 91.7 percentage of the 1981-82 Sun Devils (11-1). The Sun Devils have turned in an 22-6 mark at home in the last two seasons.

First and Facts About The 2000-01 Season

* The Sun Devils won their first Pac-10 Conference title, clinching a three-way tie with Stanford and Washington, and earned the school's first NCAA Tournament bid since 1992. The Sun Devils had been picked to finish fifth and sixth in the preseason conference polls by the coaches and media, respectively.

* Arizona State won 20 games for the first time since 1991-92, including 12 at home which tied the school record.

* Arizona State cracked the national top 25 for the first time since 1991-92, was ranked in consecutive weeks for the first time since 1982-83 and finished in tie for 25th in the final Associated Press poll, the team's first ranking in the final poll of the year in 18 years.

* The Sun Devils won seven consecutive Pac-10 games (Jan. 11 to Feb. 8) for the first time in school history and turned in their longest overall winning streak since the 1991-92 squad opened the season with a school-record nine wins.

* ASU defeated USC and UCLA twice, marking the first season sweeps over those schools in school history. With wins at UCLA and USC, Arizona State completed its first Pac-10 Conference road sweep since 1992-93 and notched its first sweep over the Los Angeles schools since 1981-82 and the first ever on the road.

* ASU earned its first victory over Arizona in seven years, snapping a 14-game losing streak with its 67-57 win on Jan. 27, and then completed the first season sweep of the Wildcats since 1992-93 with a Feb. 24 win in Tucson, the team's first win at McKale Center in eight tries.

* ASU's win over the No. 22/21 Ducks on Feb. 3 ended an 11-game skid vs. Oregon.

* The Sun Devils upset three ranked opponents which they had not done in a single season since the 1991-92 NCAA Tournament-bound Sun Devils downed No. 17 Kansas, No. 21 Cal and No. 5 Stanford.

* ASU's win at UCLA snapped a seven-game losing streak to the Bruins and marked the team's first victory at Pauley Pavilion since 1991-92, while the Sun Devils' victory at Cal also marked the first for the team since that same season.

Pac-10 Postseason TournamentA new era starts as the Pac-10 begins its first annual Women's Basketball Tournament on March 1-4, 2002, at McArthur Court on the campus of the University of Oregon, in Eugene, Oregon. The league's Directors of Athletics and the Pac-10 Council approved the postseason tournament last fall. The Pac-10 postseason tournament will be a 10-team event which will be hosted by one of the Pac-10 members on its campus each year. A total of nine games will be played with the champion earning the conference's automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.

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