No. 24 ASU Women's Basketball Hosts UCLA in Pac-10 Opener on Friday
Dec. 27, 2007
After an eight-day holiday hiatus, the No. 24 Arizona State women's basketball team returns to action on Friday evening (6:30 p.m.) when it hosts the UCLA Bruins at Wells Fargo Arena in the Pac-10 Conference opener for both teams.
The Sun Devils (6-5) are looking to rebound from their most recent outing, a 62-51 setback to No. 19 Texas. The Longhorns were the fourth Top 20 team the Sun Devils faced during their pre-conference schedule.
Winners of their last four conference openers going back to the 2003-04 campaign, the Sun Devils have either tied for set the school record for most Pac-10 wins each of the last three seasons, winning 12 (tied school record) in 2004-05, 14 in 2005-06 and 16 last season. Overall, ASU has won 25 of its last 27 Pac-10 games going back to the midway point of conference play in 2005-06.
ASU has been led of late by junior guard Briann January, who has averaged 14.0 points, 5.3 assists and 3.0 steals in ASU's last three contests. In her most recent outing vs. Texas, January tied her career best in points with 22. Also providing support in ASU's last three games have been senior guard Jill Noe (11.0 ppg, 6.3 rpg) and juniors posts Lauren Lacey (10.7 ppg, 6.3 rpg) and Sybil Dosty (7.0 ppg, 8.3 rpg). Because of what has been an injury-depleted team for much of the young season, January, Lacey and Noe are the only Sun Devils who have started every game this season.
Like ASU, the Bruins (5-6) were also saddled with a tough early-season schedule which included the likes of current No. 5 Maryland (L, 75-79) and current No. 3 and defending national champion Tennessee (L, 82-70).
The Bruins entered this week's play No. 1 in the Pac-10 in scoring offense (74.5 ppg) and No. 2 in three-point FG accuracy (.370). The Sun Devils counter with the league's top marks in both field goal percentage (.453) and three-point FG pct. defense (.250).
Arizona State's game vs. UCLA can be heard live on KDUS 1060 AM and on the sundevilsportsnetwork.com (subscription-based service). Pre-game coverage will begin at 6 p.m. Valley veteran broadcaster Jeff Munn is in his fourth year as the voice of ASU women's basketball.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
ASU is 25-2 in its last 27 regular season Pac-10 games going back to the 2004-05 season. The Sun Devils closed the 2005-06 season by winning their final nine Pac-10 games. ASU set a school record last season by winning 16 of 18 Pac-10 games (two losses came vs. Stanford). ASU is 33-3 in home Pac-10 games since the 2003-04 season.
ASU has won four of its last five meetings against UCLA, including all three last season (92-52 in Tempe, 80-69 in Los Angeles and 74-64 in the quarterfinals of the Pac-10 Tournament in San Jose).
ASU players have missed a combined 16 games because of injury this season. On Wednesday, ASU head coach Charli Turner Thorne announced that junior guard Danielle Orsillo will miss the remainder of the season because of a knee injury she sustained in November.
ASU entered this week's action ranked No. 1 in the Pac-10 in field goal percentage (.453), assists (18.55 per game) and three-point FG pct. defense (.250). Individually speaking, junior guard Briann January is ranked No. 1 in the Pac-10 in free throw pct. (.870), No. 2 in steals (2.55 per game), No. 3 in assists (4.73 per game) and No. 4 in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.49); senior Jill Noe is No. 5 in three-point FG pct. (.404) and No. 7 in both steals (2.0 spg) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.30); junior Lauren Lacey is No. 9 in rebounding (6.5 rpg); and junior Sybil Dosty is No. 6 in blocks (1.0 bpg).
Currently with 1,050 career points, Noe needs 16 points to move past Betsy Boardman (2000-05) for 12th place on ASU's all-time scoring list.
EARLY SEASON NOTES
The 49 points Fresno State scored on Dec. 17 represented the 11th time since the start of last season that ASU has held an opponent under 50 points.
Six of ASU's 11 opponents have shot below 22 percent from three-point range.
In ASU's 66-42 win over UC Santa Barbara (Nov. 17), 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 11 games junior Briann January is first on the team in scoring (11.9 ppg), assists per game (4.7 apg), steals per game (2.5 spg), made free throws (47) and attempts (54) and free throw percent (.870). Junior Lauren Lacey is first on the team in rebounding (6.5 rpg) and second in scoring (10.7 ppg).
ORSILLO SIDELINED FOR THE SEASON
Orsillo was originally diagnosed with a bone bruise in her left knee one week after scoring a career-best 21 points in ASU's season opener at North Carolina (Nov. 11). She would go on to miss ASU's next 10 regular season games before it was determined that she would miss the rest of the season.
In 2006-07 Orsillo scored in double figures 16 times and was one of four Sun Devils to play in all 36 games. Orsillo's list of accomplishments last season included being named MVP of the Verizon Wireless ASU Classic and Pac-10 Player of the Week in addition to earning a spot on the Greensboro Regional All-Tournament Team.
THOMPSON NAMED PAC-10 PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Arizona State junior center Kirsten Thompson was named the Pac-10 Women's Basketball Player of the Week according to an announcement by Pac-10 Commissioner Tom Hansen on Dec. 10.
In ASU's 77-56 win over UC Davis on Dec. 9 Thompson was perfect from the floor, connecting on all seven of her shot attempts and both free throws to lead the Sun Devils with a season-high 16 points, which fell three short of her career best. Thompson, who also added five rebounds and three assists while playing a season-high 19 minutes, scored 10 of her 16 points in the first half in helping the Sun Devils build a 34-17 halftime lead.
In her last three games at home, Thompson has connected on 68 percent of her shot attempts (15-22) while averaging 11.3 points in those three games.
IT'S BETTER TO GIVE THAN RECEIVE
The Sun Devils had 21 assists in their 79-49 win over Fresno State on Dec. 17. It was the 15th time going back to the start of last season that ASU has recorded 20 or more assists in a single game. Earlier this season ASU tallied a season-best 26 assists in its win over Gonzaga (Nov. 30). Currently ranked No. 10 in the nation in assists per game, the Sun Devils have averaged 18.8 assists in their last five outings. ASU has finished in the nation's top five in assists each of the last two seasons, finishing second last season (18.1 apg) and fourth in 2005-06 (18.4 apg).
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.
Thus far in 2007-08, January has wasted no time in picking up where she left off last season. She is currently first on the team in scoring (11.9 ppg), assists per game (4.7 apg/3rd Pac-10), steals per game (2.5 spg/2nd Pac-10), made free throws (47) and attempts (54) and free throw percent (.870/1st Pac-10).
SUN DEVILS WORK THROUGH EARLY SEASON INJURIES
When the announcement came down on Dec. 26 that junior guard Danielle Orsillo would miss the remainder of the 2007-08 season because of a knee injury, it represented the latest injury-related setback the Sun Devils have encountered in the first two months of the season. Sun Devil players have already missed a combined 16 games this season.
Dymond Simon, a member of the Pac-10's All-Freshman Team last season, was limited early in the season as she returned from a torn ACL she suffered in January. Three times this season Simon has scored in double figures, including a season-best 17 points in ASU's win over Yale on Nov. 19. Simon was having a strong outing against Texas Tech on Dec. 13, scoring 11 points in 12 minutes before being forced to leave the game after aggravating her knee injury. She would return to the game for two minutes before leaving again. Simon has not played in ASU's most recent games against Fresno State (Dec. 17) and Texas (Dec. 20) and her status is being evaluated on a game-by-game basis.
Junior post Sybil Dosty injured her knee earlier this fall and was forced to miss all of ASU's preseason practices. She averaged only 12 minutes in the first four games as she was slowly worked into the rotation. Since then, Dosty has averaged 20.0 minutes a game and has averaged 8.4 points and 7.0 rebounds while shooting 63.2 percent from the field.
Junior guard Kate Engelbrecht suffered a hand injury during the first preseason practice and was forced to miss the rest of ASU's preseason workouts and its first two games. She scored a season-high eight points in ASU's win over Fresno State on Dec. 17.
Senior guard Reagan Pariseau missed ASU's games against Auburn (Dec. 2) and UC Davis (Dec. 9) after injuring her ankle early in ASU's win over Gonzaga on Nov. 30. She returned to action on Dec. 13 at Texas Tech and made an immediate impact, scoring a season-best nine points on 4-4 shooting. Although she was healthy for ASU's contest vs. Texas (Dec. 20), Pariseau would only play 22 minutes and was limited for much of that time after absorbing a blow to the head early in the game. Then, midway through the second half, Jill Noe, who came into the Texas game averaging 14 points in her previous five games, was forced to leave the game because of an ankle injury.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 were two players who were 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.
Through ASU's first 11 games, Lacey is second on ASU in scoring (10.7 ppg) and first in rebounding (6.5 rpg). She led ASU with a career-best 19 points in its win over Iowa on Nov. 23 and would surpass that total with 20 against Auburn (Dec. 2). She would add a career-best 10 rebounds vs. UC Davis on Dec. 9 and would again tie that mark vs. Texas (Dec. 20). The leader in field goal percentage during her two seasons at Tennessee, Dosty has connected on 56.6 percent of her shots (30-53). She tied her career-best with 12 points in ASU's 60-58 win over Iowa on Nov. 30 and then would surpass that mark with 16 points in ASU's 78-60 win over Gonzaga on Nov. 30. She has tallied eight or more rebounds four times in ASU's last six games, including 11 against Fresno State (Dec. 17), which tied her career best.
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 has scored in double figures four times this season, including a season-best 17 points in ASU's win vs. Yale (Nov. 19). Simon scored 11 points in ASU's 73-69 loss at Texas Tech, however was forced to leave the game early after aggravating her knee injury. Simon has not played in ASU's most recent games against Fresno State (Dec. 17) and Texas (Dec. 20) and her status is being evaluated on a game-by-game basis.
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 86-26, 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 (163) 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 close out their current four-game homestand on Sunday (1:30 p.m.) when they take on the USC Women of Troy at Wells Fargo Arena. The game will be televised live by Fox Sports Net.