ASU Women's Basketball Hosts Gonzaga on Friday in Verizon Wireless ASU Classic
Nov. 30, 2007
The No. 14/15 Arizona State women's basketball team returns to action on Friday evening when it hosts the Gonzaga Bulldogs (6 p.m.) at Wells Fargo Arena in the first round of the 2007 Verizon Wireless ASU Classic.
The ASU-Gonzaga game will be the first of two on Friday. No. 18/20 Auburn and UC Riverside will square off in the second first round game at approximately 8:25 p.m. On Sunday the tournament will resume as Gonzaga will face either UC Riverside or Auburn at noon. ASU will play in the second game (approx. 2:30 p.m.) regardless of Friday's outcome.
The Sun Devils (3-2) are coming off a split in last week's Caribbean Challenge in Cancun, Mexico, in which they lost to current No. 9 Oklahoma 69-57 on Thanksgiving Day before coming back to defeat previously unbeaten Iowa 60-58 the following day. The Sun Devils were led in the Iowa victory by their two new transfers Lauren Lacey and Sybil Dosty. Lacey led all players in the game with a career-best 19 points while Dosty tied her career best with 12. Junior Briann January also added 11 points for the Sun Devils, who shot a season-best 55.8 percent.
Gonzaga comes into Friday's game with a 4-1 record. The Bulldogs won each of their first four games by double digits (21.5 average margin of victory) before falling at Portland State in their most recent outing, 75-72.
This will be the second meeting in as many seasons between the Sun Devils and the Bulldogs. Last season the Sun Devils captured an 81-66 win in Spokane.
The Sun Devils have won the Verizon Wireless ASU Classic the last six years. Last season the Sun Devils defeated Boston University and Northern Arizona for the championship. Danielle Orsillo earned tournament MVP honors by scoring a career-best 19 points in both contests. Also coming through with key performances were guard Briann January (averaged 14.5 pts, 3.5 rebs and 3.0 asts), center Kirsten Thompson (averaged 16.5 pts and 7.0 rebs) and guard Jill Noe, who came up just short of securing ASU's the first triple-double with 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.
Arizona State's game vs. Gonzaga can be heard live on KXAM 1310 AM and on the sundevilsportsnetwork.com (subscription-based service). Pre-game coverage will begin at 5:30 p.m. Valley veteran broadcaster Jeff Munn is in his fourth season as the voice of ASU women's basketball.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
The Sun Devils are 38-5 in their last 43 regular season games (includes 25-2 mark in their last 27 regular season Pac-10 games and 22-4 record in regular season non-conference games) going back to the 2005-06 season.
Currently with 975 career points, senior guard Jill Noe needs 25 points to become the 18th player in Sun Devil history to score 1,000 career points. In addition, Noe needs six three-point field goals (currently has 111) to pass former Sun Devil Molly Tuter (1994-97) for No. 5 on ASU's all-time list and eight more to pass former Sun Devil Amanda Levens (2000-02) for No. 4 on the all-time list.
ASU leads the all-time series with Gonzaga 3-0. In addition to the aforementioned win last season, ASU has also defeated Gonzaga twice in Tempe, most recently 77-58 in 2004.
In ASU's last two games, junior guard Briann January has hit 66.7 percent of her shots, including 50 percent (3-6) from three-point range and hit 87 percent of her free throws (13-15).
EARLY SEASON NOTES
The 38 points Yale scored on Nov. 19 represented the 10th time since the start of last season that ASU has held an opponent under 50 points.
In ASU's 66-42 win over UC Santa Barbara (Nov. 17), senior Jill Noe tallied 12 points, seven rebounds and eight assists and narrowly missed becoming the first Sun Devil to record a triple-double since Ryneldi Becenti in 1992. For Noe, it is the third such time she has flirted with the feat. Last season she recorded 17 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds in a win over Northern Arizona and during her freshman season she posted 17 points, nine assists and nine rebounds in a win over Denver.
Through ASU's first five games junior Briann January is first on the team in scoring (11.4 ppg) assists per game (4.2 apg), steals per game (3.0 spg), made free throws (19) and free throw percent (.864).
Junior Lauren Lacey leads ASU in rebounding, averaging 6.0 per game. Her 13 offensive rebounds are the most on the team.
Head coach Charli Turner Thorne announced on Nov. 19 that junior guard Danielle Orsillo will be out at least one month because of a bone bruise on her knee. Orsillo, who averaged 9.9 points per game last season, recorded a career-high 21 points in ASU's season-opening loss at North Carolina.
Junior Kate Engelbrecht missed the first two games of the season because of a hand injury suffered on the team's first official day of practice in October.
JANUARY NAMED TO PRESEASON ALL-PAC-10 TEAM
Arizona State junior guard Briann January was one of five players named to the preseason All-Pac-10 team. The team was chosen by members of the conference's women's basketball media. January is coming off a season in which she earned All-Pac-10 honorable mention honors in helping lead ASU to a school record 31 wins and its first Elite Eight appearance in school history. In 2006-07, the 5-8, Spokane, Wash., product finished third in the Pac-10 in steals (2.1 per game), fourth in assists (4.0 per game) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.67), and sixth in free throw percentage (81.7). A starter in 34 games, January concluded her sophomore campaign first on the team in both assists and steals and second in both scoring (10.2 points per game) and free throw percentage.
HELP IS ON THE WAY
Without question, one of the biggest challenges facing ASU coming into the 2007-08 season is figuring out how it will compensate for the loss of All-Pac-10 performers Aubree Johnson and Emily Westerberg. In addition to being responsible for a combined 23.0 points and 10.8 rebounds per game in 2006-07 the duo also gave ASU a strong inside presence on both ends of the floor.
Enter junior transfers Sybil Dosty and Lauren Lacey. Biding their time since they last played a meaningful game in the spring of 2006, Dosty and Lacey are two players who are very eager to get on the floor and help the Sun Devils ascend to the top.
Both players got to take a bit of a test drive with their teammates in real competition during ASU's trip to Italy last May in which the Sun Devils squared off against four different teams from around the country.Originally a native of Tucson, Dosty spent her first two collegiate seasons at the University of Tennessee where she was part of a Final Four team her freshman year. Lacey, who transferred from the University of Minnesota, was also part of two squads that went to the NCAA Tournament.
In ASU's first five games, Lacey has led ASU in rebounding, averaging 6.0 per game. She led ASU with a career-best 19 points in the Sun Devils' win over Iowa on Nov. 23. The leader in field goal percent age during her two seasons at Tennessee, Dosty has connected on 50 percent of her shots (11-22). She tied her career-best with 12 points in ASU's 60-58 win over Iowa on Nov. 30.
SUN DEVILS WELCOME THE RETURN OF SIMON
In addition to gaining the services of Dosty and Lacey, the Sun Devils will also be benefiting from the return of sophomore Dymond Simon, who was named to the Pac-10's All-Freshman Team last season despite missing the second half of the Pac-10 season with a torn ACL.
'Dymond is a very special player who is critical in terms of our desires to take the next step as a program,' says ASU head coach Charli Turner Thorne. 'I think one of the strongest testaments to her ability as a player is the fact that the conference coaches still voted her onto the All-Freshman Team despite her missing the entire second half of the Pac-10 season.'
Prior to getting injured last season, Simon showed flashes of the brilliance that she used to helped lead her high school team to a pair of state championships. At the time of her injury, Simon was third on the team in scoring (9.7 points per game) and second on the team in steals (1.6 per game). Two weeks before getting injured, Simon was named the Pac-10 Player of the Week after averaging 20 points, 3.0 assists and 1.5 steals in ASU's wins vs. Washington State and Washington.
According to Turner Thorne, Simon has found ways to improve her game even while recovering from the injury.
'We always challenge players when they are out to work on something more than maybe they otherwise would be able to. True to Dymond and her amazing commitment to be the best basketball player she can be, she worked tirelessly on her shot and that is what people are going to notice right away. Her shot is fluid and it looks great.'
Simon's return has already paid big dividends for the Sun Devils this season. She is currently second on the team in scoring, averaging 8.6 points per game.
WHAT'S NEXT FOR CHARLI?
With its 67-49 win over Bowling Green in the Sweet Sixteen of the 2007 NCAA Tournament the Arizona State women's basketball team clinched its first ever appearance in the Elite Eight of the 'The Big Dance.' It was the latest `first time ...' for the Sun Devils under head coach Charli Turner Thorne, who continues to build on what is the most successful period in the program's history. Since the 2004-05 season the Sun Devils are 81-23, including a 6-3 record in NCAA Tournament games the last three seasons.
In 2005-06 Turner Thorne had the Sun Devils in the Top 10 of both polls for the first time 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. After leading the Sun Devils to a 25-7 in 2005-06 Turner Thorne was recognized being named the Russell Athletic/Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Region 8 Coach of the Year.
Now in her 12th 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 (161) in the Pac-10 Conference.
SUN DEVILS SIGN THREE
A pair of explosive posts from Southern California and a top guard from the Pacific Northwest, highlight the 2008 Arizona State women's basketball signing class announced by head coach Charli Turner Thorne.
Kimberly Brandon, Alex Earl and Janae Fulcher signed letters of intent to study and compete at Arizona State.
A 6-2 forward, Brandon is an exceptional talent, whose versatility and explosiveness will benefit the Sun Devils right away in 2008-09. Brandon, who is ranked the No. 92 overall player in the country (No. 22 at her position) by hoopgurlz.com, will be coming to ASU from Chatsworth High School in Chatsworth, Calif., where in 2006-07 she averaged a double-double in points and rebounds in leading her team to the City Section title while earning all-league honors along the way.
A 5-10 guard, Earl has been a four-year member of the varsity squad at Southridge High School in Beaverton, Ore. The team leader in assists, steals and three-point field goals, Earl was named third-team all-state and first team all-league in 2007 following a season in which she helped lead the Skyhawks to their third consecutive 6A state title. A 2006-07 Street & Smith's Prep All-American Honorable Mention selection, Earl also earned all-league notice in 2005 and 2006, was named to the Oregon City `End of the Trail' All-Tournament Team in 2005 and 2006 (also earned MVP honors in '06), and played on Team Concept during the 2007 Nike Elite Regional Camp. In addition to her ability on the hardwood, Earl was also a four-year starter on Southridge's soccer team, earning second-team all-state honors in 2005 and first-team all-league honors in 2005 and 2007. Earl, whose father has coached basketball, was also a U.S. National Team member in 2004 and was on the Olympic Development Team for the state of Oregon for three years.
Fulcher will be coming to Tempe from Country Day High School in La Jolla, Calif., where the 6-3 post has averaged 9.3 points and 7.8 rebounds per game during her first three years on the varsity squad. Named team captain for the 2007-08 season, Fulcher is ranked the No. 15 post player by Girls Basketball Report in addition to being named an honorable mention All-American by The Sporting News and a McDonald's All-American nominee. Last season Fulcher averaged 12.4 points and 8.4 rebounds per game on her way to a bevy of honors, including All-CIF Div. IV First Team, UT All-San Diego Section First Team, Hall of Champions All-County First Team and Street & Smith's All-American Honorable Mention. Country Day would go on to be Coastal League champions and CIF SD Section Div. IV champions. In 2005-06, Fulcher nearly averaged a double-double every game with 9.9 points and 9.5 rebounds every time she stepped on the floor. She would go on to be named All-League First Team Coastal South, All-CIF Div. IV First Team and UT All-San Diego Section First Team in helping lead Country Day to Coastal League and CIF SD Section Div. IV titles before finishing as a Southern Regional runner-up.
The Sun Devils will face either UC Riverside or Auburn during the second and final day of the Verizon Wireless ASU Classic on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. in Wells Fargo Arena.