Women's Basketball Opens Exhibition Season Wednesday Night

Nov. 2, 2004

TEMPE, Ariz. -

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Ninth-year head coach Charli Turner Thorne and her Arizona State Sun Devils hit the court for the first time in the 2004-05 season Wednesday night with an exhibition game against Strakonice, a traveling team from Strakonice, Czech Republic. The Sun Devils will play their second and final exhibition tune-up on Monday, Nov. 8 against Team Concept, a traveling team of former college players, before opening the regular season Thursday and Friday, Nov. 11-12 at the Women's Sports Foundation Classic in Baton Rouge, La.

The Sun Devils return 11 letterwinners, including all five starters, from last year's 17-12 squad and look to extend a streak that has seen the team advance to the postseason for a school-record five consecutive seasons. ASU's roster features four seniors this year in guards Betsy Boardman, Lauren Stagg, Carrie Bucker and Kylan Loney. Loney was a first-team All-Pac-10 selection last season after leading the team in assists and three-point shooting. The Sun Devils also return a talented group of four juniors and three sophomores who have made significant contributions in the last two years, including 2004 honorable-mention All-Pac-10 selection Kristen Kovesdy and Pac-10 All-Freshman honoree Emily Westerberg. Joining the returners are redshirt freshman Jacquelyn Johnson and true freshman Reagan Pariseau. Johnson was the 2004 Pac-10 Track and Field Newcomer of the Year after winning NCAA and Pac-10 heptathlon titles last season, while Pariseau was the MVP of the Greater Spokane League last year at Central Valley High School in Spokane, Wash.

ASU in the Exhibition SeasonThe Sun Devils are 10-6 in exhibition games under ninth-year head coach Charli Turner Thorne. Last year, the Sun Devils won both of their exhibition games, defeating Latvian Select, a team from Riga, Latvia, 92-41 on Nov. 6 and the West Coast All-Stars, a squad of former college players, 77-57 on Nov. 15.

A Look Ahead at the Season OpenerArizona State tips off the 29th season of Sun Devil women's basketball next week, traveling to Baton Rouge, La., for the Women's Sports Foundation Classic on Nov. 11-12. The Sun Devils will take on Virginia in the first round and either LSU or Maine in the second. Last season, Louisiana State advanced to the NCAA Final Four, while Maine won the America East Conference title and earned an NCAA Tournament berth. The Nov. 11 game with Virginia will tie for the earliest start in school history. The Sun Devils also opened the season on Nov. 11 in 1978-79. The Sun Devils play host to the University of San Diego in their home opener at Wells Fargo Arena on Saturday, Nov. 20.

Next week in Baton Rouge, Arizona State will be looking to win its seventh straight season opener and its first two games for the seventh consecutive year.

Home-Court AdvantageThe Sun Devils turned in a 13-1 record at Wells Fargo Arena last year, tying the school record for home wins for the third consecutive season and setting the school mark for home winning percentage in a season (.929). ASU has won 18 of its last 20 home games and holds a 62-14 record at Wells Fargo Arena in the last five seasons (.816). Prior to a 68-65 loss to USC on Jan. 17, the Sun Devils won their first eight home games this year and a total of nine straight games at Wells Fargo Arena. In 2002-03, ASU turned in a 13-4 record which matched the school-record 13 victories the 2001-02 team had (13-2).

Turner Thorne Second in All-Time Wins at ASUWith a 123-112 record in eight seasons at ASU, Turner Thorne needs just 11 wins to tie the school record for victories. Juliene Simpson is currently the all-time winningest coach in Arizona State women's basketball history, notching a 134-92 mark in eight seasons in Tempe (1979-87).

Turner Thorne has led her Sun Devils to a school-record five consecutive postseason bids including WNIT appearances in 2000, 2003 and 2004 and ASU's first back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances in 20 years in 2001 and 2002. ASU previously had advanced to postseason play in three straight seasons (NWIT runner-up in 1981, NCAA Sweet Sixteen in 1982 and 1983). After a 17-12 mark in 2003-04, Turner Thorne became only the second coach in school history to lead the Sun Devils to four consecutive winning seasons. The last time ASU had four straight winning campaigns was under Juliene Simpson from 1980-81 to 1983-84.

Since Turner Thorne took over the reins of the program in 1996-97, the Sun Devils have climbed back to the national prominence that the team enjoyed in the early 1990s. In 2000-01, Turner Thorne's Sun Devils captured ASU's first Pac-10 Championship, an NCAA berth, a return to the national rankings and the team's first 20-win season in nine years, while her 2001-02 squad tied the school mark for single-season wins with a 25-9 record, advanced to the NCAA Tournament and won the inaugural Pac-10 Tournament Championship.

ASU Picked Fourth in Preseason Pac-10 PollsArizona State has been picked to finish fourth in the Pac-10 Conference by the media and the league's coaches. It marks the fourth time in five years that ASU has been picked to finish in the upper half of the Pac-10. Last year, ASU was picked fourth by the media and fifth by the coaches and ended up in a tie for third place in the final league standings. Following are the complete Pac-10 Conference preseason polls (first-place votes in parentheses):

	Media	Coaches	T1.	Stanford (8)	1. 	Stanford (8)		Arizona (7)	2. 	Arizona (1)	3. 	UCLA	3. 	UCLA (1)	4.	Arizona State	4. 	Arizona State	5.	Washington	5.	Oregon	6.	Oregon	6.	Washington	7.	USC	7.	USC	8.	Oregon State	8.	California	9.	California	9.	Oregon State	10.	Washington State	10.	Washington State

Tough DefenseArizona State has established itself as one of the top defensive teams in the Pac-10 Conference. The Sun Devils have led the league in at least one defensive category in each of the last six years (1998-99 to present). Last year, ASU paced the Pac-10 in rebounding defense (32.2 rpg) and three-point field goal defense (30.4 percent allowed) and finished second in scoring defense (61.1 ppg). By allowing just 32.2 rebounds per game, ASU set a school record for rebounding defense in 2003-04, besting the previous low of 33.3 by the 2001-02 Pac-10 Tournament champion squad. ASU also led the Pac-10 in three-point defense in for the third straight year and the fifth time in six seasons.

In the last six seasons (since the start of the 1998-99 season to present), the Sun Devils have allowed opponents to just 62.8 points and 34.0 rebounds per game and 29.4 percent shooting from beyond the arc (11,297 points, 6115 rebounds, 502-1707 three-pointers, 180 games).