ASU women's basketball faces Yale
The No. 14/7 Arizona State women's basketball team makes its first road trip of the 2009-10 season this week when it travels to New Haven, Ct., to face the Yale Bulldogs (Thursday, 7 p.m. ET./5 p.m. MT).
Thursday's game at Yale represents the first of four consecutive games the Sun Devils are playing away from home. On Saturday the Sun Devils will be in Cincinnati for a Top 10 showdown at Xavier before traveling to Honolulu, Hawaii, next week where they will spend Thanksgiving weekend taking on Hawaii (Nov. 27) and East Tennessee State (Nov. 29).
ON THE AIR
Arizona State's game at Yale can be heard live on www.thesundevils.com. Pre-game coverage will begin at 4:30 p.m. in the Valley. Veteran broadcaster Jeff Munn is in his sixth season as the voice of ASU women's basketball.
Throughout much of the preseason, Sun Devil head coach Charli Turner Thorne has made it a point to stress that the Sun Devils are about `reloading' and not `rebuilding' after losing six seniors from last year's Elite Eight squad.
If preseason polls are any indication, it appears that media and coaches alike have taken notice that the Sun Devils intend to be among the nation's best despite the number of losses from last season. After finishing 19th in the final Associated Press 2008-09 regular season poll, the Sun Devils opened at No. 16 in the AP's 2009-10 preseason poll. ASU also opened higher in the preseason coaches poll, coming in at No. 11 after finishing 12th in the final coaches poll of the 2008-09 season.
ASU's No. 11 ranking in the ESPN/USA Today Top 25 coaches' preseason poll represents the highest preseason ranking it has ever received in either poll. The highest ranking ASU had received in a preseason poll prior to this season came two years ago when it opened No. 12 in both polls. This year represents the fifth straight season that ASU has been ranked in both preseason polls.
In the latest polls the Sun Devils moved up to No. 14 in the AP and No. 7 in the coaches poll following their win over South Dakota State on Sunday. ASU's No. 7 ranking ties the Sun Devils' highest in school history. ASU was also ranked No. 7 prior to facing Stanford in the 2007 Pac-10 Tournament championship game.
The Pac-10's coaches picked the Sun Devils to finish second in the conference this season, which is exactly where it finished last season when it tied California for the league's runner-up spot. The media that cover the conference had the Sun Devils in third. Worth noting is the Sun Devils received a first-place vote in the coaches poll.
Both the league's coaches and media were in agreement in picking Stanford to win the conference.
The Bulldogs enter Thursday's game with a 2-0 record after opening the season with home wins over Holy Cross (66-60) and Army (55-42). The biggest factors in Yale's first two wins have been big advantages in rebounding (52.5-39.0 rpg) and free throw shooting where the Bulldogs have shot 49 more free throws (61-12) than their opponents and made 30 more (39-9) in their first two games.
Three players -- sophomore forward Michelle Cashen (12.5 ppg), senior guard/forward Melissa Colborne (10.0 ppg) and junior forward Mady Gobrecht (10.0 ppg) -- have averaged double figues in scoring. Camden has averaged 13.0 rebounds.
SUN DEVILS LOOK TO REMAIN AMONG THE BEST
During ASU head coach Charli Turner Thorne's stint leading the Sun Devil program, ASU has developed into one of the most successful programs not only in the Pac-10, but around the country as well. Since 2000, the Sun Devils have finished first or second in the Pac-10 a combined six times, and have finished lower than third only once. Nationally, ASU is one of 20 schools whose current streak of NCAA appearances is 5 or more, one of 15 schools that has qualified for the Sweet 16 three or more times in the last five seasons and one of 9 schools that has qualified for the Elite Eight at least two times in the last three years.
ALWAYS FEELING AT HOME
Something else the Sun Devils have come to be known for under Turner Thorne is having one of the best success rates in the country when they play on their home floor. Since 2004 the Sun Devils have won 87 percent (67-10) of the games they have played at Wells Fargo Arena (See chart below for year-by-year breakdown). In addition, under Turner Thorne ASU has also proven to be nearly as effective when it is playing away from home. In the last five seasons the Sun Devils have won more than 67 percent of their games when they were the visiting team or made a trip to a neutral site.
WHO IS RETURNING?
#13 Danielle Orsillo - Sr. - G -
Returns as ASU's most experienced player in the backcourt... Started all 35 games last season after missing all but one game of the 2007-08 season with a knee injury... Scored in double figures 17 times last season, including 11 times in ASU's last 15 games... Named to the 2009 Trenton Regional All-Tournament Team after she averaged 12.5 points and 2.5 assists while making all 10 of her free throws in ASU's four NCAA Tournament games.
#21 Kayli Murphy - Sr. - F/C -
Returns as ASU's most experienced player in the frontcourt... Played in every game her first two years before a hand injury caused her to miss the first six games last season... Would go on to start in 27 of the 29 games she played in... Made 58 percent of her field goal attempts in Pac-10 play and was successful on 64 percent of her shots (32-50) in ASU's last nine games of the season... Had the best all-around game of her career in ASU's first round NCAA Tournament win over Georgia (Mar. 21). Made all six of her field goal attempts and scored a career-high 12 points for the second consecutive game. Also grabbed season-best 11 rebounds (one short of her career high) to account for the first double-double of her career... Had the second double-double of her career in the 2009-10 season opener against South Dakota State in which she scored 12 points and grabbed a career-high 13 rebounds.
#30 Gabby Fage - Sr. - G -
Reserve guard who has played in 67 games over the last three seasons... Will look to pick up where she left off at the end of the 2008-09 season as she played a big role in helping the Sun Devils qualify for the Elite Eight for the second time in three years... After averaging 5.8 minutes in her first 24 games of the season, averaged 22.8 minutes in ASU's four NCAA Tournament contests... Came through with clutch effort in ASU's 63-58 win over Florida State to help send the Sun Devils to the Sweet 16 as she played a career-high 26 minutes and tied her career high in points (6) and set a new career best with six rebounds. Hit back-to-back 3-pointers over a 31-second span to cut Florida State's once nine-point lead to a single point, 46-45, with 6:12 left in the game.
#32 Becca Tobin - Jr. - F/C -
Skilled post who will have a more prominent role in 2009-10... Came into the 2009-10 season having played in 66 games her first two seasons... In 2008-09 led or tied for the team lead in rebounds nine times and blocks 10 times... Was successful on 55.4 percent of her shot attempts (67-121) and 72 percent of her free throws (33-46) last season... Connected on 62 percent (31-50) of her shot attempts during ASU's school record 15-game winning streak last season and hit 53 percent of her shots (10-19) in ASU's four NCAA Tournament games... Made the first start of her career in ASU's 2009-10 season opening win against South Dakota State and scored a career-best 18 points to go along with six rebounds.
#25 Kimberly Brandon - So. - G/F -
Had a tremendous offseason and figures to play an ever bigger role in 2009-10 after playing in 30 games last season (5.8 minutes per game)... Recorded career-best numbers in points (11), rebounds (6) and steals (2) in win at Oregon (Jan. 10, 2009)... Led ASU in its exhibition win over Vanguard as she scored 19 points to go along with seven rebounds... Sister Gennifer is a freshman on the California women's basketball team... Made the first start of her career in ASU's 2009-10 season opener against South Dakota State (Nov. 15).
#12 Alex Earl - So. - G -
Will have a much bigger role this season following the graduation of three guards from last year's team when she played in 23 games (4.3 minutes per game)... Has excellent perimeter shooting skills... Missed ASU's 2009-10 season opener and she recovered from a foot injury.
NEW CAST MEMBERS
#35 Tenaya Watson - Jr. - G -
Transfer from Central Arizona who is one of the candidates to take over as the team's starting point guard... At Central Arizona was part of NJCAA national runner-up (2008) and NJCAA champion (2009) where she was a teammate of fellow ASU newcomer Markisha Patterson... As a freshman in 2008 was named a NJCAA Division I First Team All-American following a freshman campaign in which she averaged 16.6 points and finished first in the nation in field goal percentage (.646), second in assists (8.4 apg) and 11th in steals (3.8 spg)... Turned in another outstanding campaign in 2009 as she averaged 13.8 points, 5.4 assists (13th in the nation) and 3.9 steals (fourth in the nation) per game in helping lead Central Arizona to a perfect 35-0 season and the NJCAA title.. Was named the MVP of the 2009 NJCAA Tournament after averaging 16.8 points in Central Arizona's four tournament games. In the NJCAA championship game she scored a career-best 30 points and grabbed six rebounds to help Central Arizona defeat Missouri Jefferson College 78-71.
#11 Kali Bennett - So. - F/C -
Transfer from the University of Washington who figures to play a big role this season after sitting out the 2008-09 season because of NCAA transfer rules... Averaged 4.9 points and 3.0 rebounds for the Huskies while tying for the team lead in blocked shots with 15... Scored 18 points and led ASU with 13 rebounds in exhibition win over Vanguard... Scored seven points and grabbed three rebounds in season opener vs. South Dakota State (Nov. 19), her first official game as a Sun Devil.
#22 Janae Fulcher - RS-Fr. - F/C -
Redshirted last year... Will have a big role this season after ASU graduated three post players from last year's team... Helped lead her high school basketball team, La Jolla Country Day, to four league championships... Scored two points and grabbed a pair of rebounds in her Sun Devil debut vs. South Dakota State (Nov. 15).
#4 Haley Parsons - RS-Fr. - G -
Redshirted last season... Has been slowed by injury in preseason.
#3 Joy Burke - Fr. - F/C -
Extremely talented post who has outstanding range and versatility... Local product (Tempe Marco de Niza), who was McDonald's All-American nominee and was also named to the Arizona Republic's All-Arizona Team and earned all-city accolades three times... Connected on 63 percent of her field goal attempts as a senior while averaging 23.3 points, 17.8 rebounds, 7.5 blocks and 3.9 steals per game.
#5 Deja Mann - Fr. - G -
A 2009 graduate of Merced High School in Merced, Calif., where she earned first-team All-Central California Conference honors each of her first two seasons, including being named the conference's MVP her sophomore season... Savvy, hardworking, and dynamic combo guard who is both a prolific shooter and great decision-maker... Scored five points and had one assist in 16 minutes of play in season opener vs. South Dakota State (Nov. 15)...
#2 Sabrina McKinney - Fr. - G -
Is also in the mix to assume the starting point guard role... Outstanding defender who was a two-time Defensive Player of the Year for Bowie High School in Arlington, Texas... Scored two points and had two assists in season opening win vs. South Dakota State (Nov. 15).