No. 10/10 ASU Women's Basketball Hosts Arizona in Pac-10 Opener
Dec. 21, 2006
The No. 10/10 Arizona State women's basketball team opens up conference play when it hosts in-state rival Arizona on Friday at 7 p.m. in Wells Fargo Arena. In addition to having won their last six games, the Sun Devils have also won their last nine regular season Pac-10 contests and two straight against the Wildcats.
The Sun Devils (10-1) are coming off a 61-45 win over Texas Tech on Monday. The game against the Lady Raiders was played at Chase Field in downtown Phoenix, making it the second ever outdoor women's college basketball game. In 2000 the Sun Devils faced Tennessee at the same venue (then named Bank One Ballpark) in the first outdoor women's game. Still, Monday night's affair was not without a `first' of its own as the contest became the `first' ever women's college basketball game to be shortened by rain.
The Sun Devils will be looking to get off to a good start in conference play as they have done in recent years. ASU has won its last three conference openers since the 2003-04 season, including last year's 83-59 win at Arizona.
This will be ASU's first game at Wells Fargo Arena in almost three weeks. The Sun Devils were last in action at home when they defeated Boston University (Dec. 1) and Northern Arizona (Dec.2 ) to capture the Verizon Wireless ASU Classic.
Arizona State's game against Arizona can be heard live KXAM 1310 AM. It can also be heard live on the sundevilsportsnetwork.com (subscription-based service). Pre-game coverage will begin at 6:30 p.m. in Arizona. Valley veteran broadcaster Jeff Munn is in his third year as the voice of ASU women's basketball. He is joined on the broadcast longtime basketball executive Jeff Munn.
FREE ADMISSION WITH TICKET STUB FROM MONDAY NIGHT'S GAME
Redeem your ticket stub from Monday night's ASU-Texas Tech game held at Chase Field for free admission to ASU's Pac-10 opener vs. Arizona.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
The Sun Devils entered this week's action ranked No. 1 in the Pac-10 in scoring offense, scoring margin, field goal percentage (also fourth in the nation), three-point field goal percentage, assists (also first in the nation), and turnover margin. They were ranked No. 2 in steals and assist-to-turnover ratio.
Last week the Sun Devils climbed into the top 10 of the AP poll (this week ascended to No. 10 in the USA Today/ESPN poll, too), marking the second consecutive season they have ascended to such status. The Sun Devils are currently the highest ranked team in the Pac-10.
Senior G Jill Noe is No. 3 in the Pac-10 in three-point shooting percentage (.565).
Junior G Reagan Pariseau in No. 2 in the Pac-10 in assist-to-turnover ratio.
During ASU's six-game winning streak, freshman G Danielle Orsillo has averaged 12.8 points while shooting .500 (32-64) from the field. Orsillo has led the team in scoring on three occasions during that streak, including a pair of career-best 19-point efforts vs. Boston (Dec. 1) and vs. NAU (Dec. 2). In her most recent outing, Orsillo led ASU with 16 points on 7-of-8 shooting in ASU's 61-45 win over Texas Tech.
Defensively speaking, the Sun Devils have turned it up a notch. During its current six-game winning streak, ASU has allowed opponents to shoot only .409 from the field. In addition, the Sun Devils have almost twice the number of steals (68-37) as their opponents.
Only two teams (Tennessee and Western Kentucky) have shot better than 50 percent against ASU.
In their 11 games, the Sun Devils have been led in scoring by six different players. Westerberg has led the team in scoring five of those times (most on the team).
EARLY SEASON RECAP
The Sun Devils opened their season winning their first four games by an average of 31.5 points. ASU won the season-opening Veterans Day Classic (Nov. 10, 12 & 13) after capturing wins over Nebraska (87-60), New Mexico (67-49) and Florida Atlantic (96-60). They followed that with a 91-46 win over Nicholls State (Nov. 15).
Sun Devil senior G Jill Noe (11.7 ppg, 8.7 rpg) and G Briann January (8.7 ppg, 3.7 apg, 3.0 spg) were named to the Veterans Day Classic All-Tournament Team while senior F Emily Westerberg (16.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg) was named the MVP.
The Sun Devils encountered their first loss of the season to the No. 4 Tennessee Lady Vols (Nov. 19). ASU had a season-high 25 turnovers while allowing Tennessee to shoot 54.8 percent in the 83-74 loss. The loss to Tennessee snapped ASU's 26-game regular season home-winning streak and its streak of wins in 13 consecutive regular season games going back to last season.
ASU got back on the winning track, defeating Western Kentucky 67-63 in the first round of the Paradise Jam held in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Sun Devils forced 35 turnovers, however had to hold off a furious rally by the Lady Toppers in the game's closing minutes.
The Sun Devils won their home tournament, the Verizon ASU Classic, defeating both Boston University (75-53) and Northern Arizona (85-72). ASU defeated Boston despite not having its regular starting posts - seniors Emily Westerberg and Aubree Johnson - in the lineup. The Sun Devils overcame even more adversity in their win against NAU, overtaking the Lumberjacks despite not having Johnson, Westerberg and starting point guard Reagan Pariseau in the lineup. Sophomore G Danielle Orsillo earned tournament MVP honors by scoring a career-best 19 points in both contests. Also coming through with key performances were sophomore guard Briann January (averaged 14.5 pts, 3.5 rebs and 3.0 asts), sophomore center Kirsten Thompson (averaged 16.5 pts and 7.0 rebs) and senior guard Jill Noe, who came up just short of securing ASU's first triple-double since 1992 after contributing 17 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds in the championship game. Both January and Thompson were named to the Verizon Wireless ASU Classic All-Tourney Team.
ASU knocked off Gonzaga 81-66 to extend its winning streak four games, In that game, Westerberg scored 20 points, putting her over the 1,000-point mark for her career. She became the 17th Sun Devil to achieve such status.
ASU ran its unbeaten streak to five consecutive following its 75-46 win over UC Irvine. In that game the Sun Devils recorded season bests in field goal pct (56.4) and field goal pct. allowed (29.5).
The Sun Devils won their sixth straight game, defeating Texas Tech (61-45) in the second ever outdoor women's basketball game, which was held at Chase Field in downtown Phoenix. The game came to an abrupt end when rain began to fall with 4:18 remaining in the game. ASU was declared the victor following a conference between the officials and the coaches from both schools.
ASU has won 19 of its last 20 regular season contests dating back to 2005-06. ASU won its last nine regular season games of 2005-06 and had won its first four this season before falling to the No. 4 Tennessee Lady Vols, 83-74 on Nov. 19. Since losing to Tennessee, the Sun Devils have won their last six games.
The Sun Devils have won their last nine regular season conference games dating back to last season.
Since 2004-05, the Sun Devils are now 26-4 in their pre-conference regular season games. They have defeated five ranked teams in that span, including No. 11 Georgia and No. 8 UConn in 2004, No. 17 Vanderbilt and No. 18 New Mexico in 2005 and No. 18 New Mexico in 2006. ASU's only losses in that span came at No. 3 LSU in 2004 (54-65), at New Mexico in 2004 (45-61), vs. No. 8 North Carolina in last year's Caribbean Classic in Cancun (72-79) and vs. Tennessee (74-83) last month in Tempe.
ASU has won 28 of its last 29 regular season home games. The Sun Devils are 46-3 at home since the 2003-04 season.
The Sun Devils have 11 players who are averaging at least 11.5 minutes per game. Leading the way is sophomore G Briann January, who is averaging 24.5 minutes per game.
ASU's Rating Percentage Index (RPI) is currently No. 11, according to CollegeRPI.com while their strength of schedule is 34th in the country.
SERIES HISTORY VERSUS ARIZONA
Arizona State holds a 38-25 advantage in the all-time series with Arizona, including a 21-11 advantage in games played in Tempe.ASU's 83-59 win in Tucson last December snapped an eight-game winning streak by the home team. The Sun Devils would resume the successful trend of the home team with their 81-45 win over Arizona in the rematch last March.
The series with Arizona is the longest for the Sun Devils and dates back to the 1975-76 season, the first year of varsity women's basketball at Arizona State (although the teams played another seven games before that first varsity season with UA winning five of seven). ASU snapped a 14-game losing streak to the Wildcats in 2000-01 with its first season sweep of the U-of-A since 1991-92. The Sun Devils won 18 of the first 20 meetings, including a streak of 16 games that encompassed eight full seasons (1978-79 to 1985-86).
WESTERBERG NAMED TO NAISMITH AWARD LIST
Arizona State senior F Emily Westerberg was recently named to the watch list for the 2007 Naismith Award, which is presented annually to the men's and women's college basketball players of the year.
The Top 50 list was compiled by the Atlanta Tipoff Club's Board of Selectors, comprised of leading basketball journalists, coaches and administrators from around the country. The board based its pre-season criteria on player performances from last season and expectations for the 2006-07 season. In January, the Board of Selectors will narrow its pre-season list to the Top 30 players in the nation. Those players, and others who distinguish themselves throughout the season, will be eligible for the final ballot in March.
Westerberg has already been named to the Preseason All-Pac-10 Team, announced last month during the annual Pac-10 Women's Basketball Media Day.
Last season Westerberg became the first Sun Devil since 1992-93 to earn First-Team All-Pac-10 honors in back-to-back seasons after a year in which she finished second on the team in scoring (12.8 ppg), rebounding (5.1 rpg), assists (80) and blocks (9) and third in both steals (34) and three-point field goals (18).
Thus far in 2006-07, Westerberg has more than lived up to the preseason honor. She was named Most Valuable Player of the season opening Veterans Day Classic. Westerberg averaged 16.7 points and 4.7 rebounds in wins over Nebraska, New Mexico and Florida Atlantic. She added a season-best 21 points in ASU's 83-74 loss to No. 4 Tennessee (Nov. 19). Westerberg's play against the Lady Vols was so impressive that Tennessee head coach Pat Summitt singled her out in her post-game remarks following the game. Said Summitt, 'We didn't have an answer [for Emily Westerberg]. I went over and told her, `You are a heck of a player.' I knew that from just watching tape. She is very efficient. She is just a very skilled player. She plays hard. She gets open. We had a hard time keeping the ball out of her hands. We talked about it at halftime: You have to limit her touches or the numbers are going to mount.'
One of ASU's 2006-07 co-captains along with senior F Aubree Johnson, Westerberg recently became the 17th player in school history to score 1,000 career points following her 20-point outing in ASU's 81-66 win at Gonzaga (Dec. 6).
SUN DEVILS SIGN TWO FOR 2006-07
A local standout who led her team to a state championship and a multi-faceted talent from the Pacific Northwest highlight the 2006 recruiting class for the Arizona State University women's basketball program. Rebecca Tobin and Stephanie Wilber signed letters of intent on November 8 to study and compete at Arizona State.
The Arizona Republic's Northwest Valley Girls Basketball Player of the year in 2006, Tobin is coming off a season in which she helped lead Glendale Cactus to the 4A Division I state title. Tobin proved to be a dominant inside presence for the Cobras, setting the girls single-season state record for blocks with 191, far surpassing the previous record of 167. Tobin was every bit as effective on the offensive side as well in leading Cactus with 16.3 points per game. In addition, she also averaged 10.3 rebounds, 3.5 steals and 3.1 assists. In the 2006 4A state championship game against top-seeded Scottsdale Saguaro, Tobin scored a game-high 26 points in helping the Cobras secure their second state title in three years.
A 6-1 guard, Wilber will be coming to ASU from Auburn Riverside in Auburn, Wash. Wilber helped lead Riverside to a 22-7 record and a sixth-place finish in the 2006 Washington state 4A state tournament. During the 2005-06 season, Wilber averaged 16.0 points, 11.5 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game. Wilber earned several honors along the way including being named first-team All-South Puget Sound League North Division; First-Team All-League; Second Team All Area by the News Tribune (Tacoma, Wash.); and Honorable Mention All Area by the Seattle P-I. In addition to her accomplishments for Riverside, Wilber also had 18 points and 11 rebounds for Team Concept in the 2006 Arizona Elite Classic championship.
SUN DEVILS EARN HIGHEST RANKINGS EVER IN PRESEASON POLLS
The Arizona State women's basketball team opened the 2006-07 season ranked No. 13 in the country, according to the Associated Press (AP) Poll and No. 12 according to the USA TODAY/ESPN Preseason Coaches Poll. Both rankings were the highest ASU ever received in each of the major polls to start the season.
The Sun Devils have since climbed to as high as No. 10 in the AP poll (currently No. 10 in AP and No. 10 in USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll). The highest ranking ASU has ever held is No. 9 which occurred in 1983 (AP) and again last season (AP and USA Today/ESPN Polls).
WHAT'S NEXT FOR CHARLI?
Arizona State head coach Charli Turner Thorne added another great accomplishment to her coaching dossier last season when it was revealed that ASU was ranked No. 10 in the USA Today/ESPN coaches poll (ASU would eventually ascend to No. 9, which tied its highest ever ranking). For the Sun Devils it was their first appearance in the top 10 of a major poll in 22 years. If the figure `22 years' sounds familiar it's because in 2004-05 Turner Thorne led the Sun Devils to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 22 years. Turner Thorne was recognized for the job she has done with ASU last season when she was named the Russell Athletic/Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Region 8 Coach of the Year.
Currently in the midst of her 11th season in Tempe, Turner Thorne has more than established the Sun Devils as one of the teams to watch on an annual basis not only in the Pac-10 Conference, but also across the country. In fact, since the 2000-01 season, the Sun Devils have won the second-highest number of overall games (137) in the Pac-10 Conference. Turner Thorne is currently No. 5 among Pac-10 coaches in all-time victories with 182.