No. 18/19 ASU women's basketball plays at Texas Tech on Thursday night
For the first time in more than a month the No. 18/19 Arizona State women's basketball team will play an official `road' game when it travels to Lubbock, Texas, to take on the Texas Tech Lady Raiders on Thursday. Game time is set for 7 p.m. CT from United Spirit Arena.
The Sun Devils are coming off an impressive 77-56 win over UC Davis on Sunday in which they shot 55.6 from the field and had four players score in double figures led by junior center Kirsten Thompson who made all seven of her field goal attempts and scored a game-high 16 points. For her performance Thompson was named the Pac-10's Player of the Week for the first time in her Sun Devil career.
In addition to seeking their second consecutive win and their third in their last four outings, the Sun Devils will also be seeking their first road win of the season. Since their season opening game on Nov. 11 when they fell to current No. 3 North Carolina in Chapel Hill, the Sun Devils have five games at home and a pair on neutral ground in Cancun, Mexico. The Sun Devils have won 14 of their last 16 road games going back to the second half of the 2005-06 season, including a single-season school record 10 road games last season.
Thursday's game will be a rematch of last season's Hoops for Health Classic (Dec. 18, 2006) in which the Sun Devils defeated the Lady Raiders 61-45 in the second ever outdoor NCAA women's basketball game. The contest, which was played at the home of Major League Baseball's Arizona Diamondbacks, Chase Field in downtown Phoenix, was called to a halt with 4:18 remaining because of rain.
Texas Tech enters Thursday night's game with a record of 9-1. The Lady Raiders won their first nine games of the season before falling by three points to Houston (66-63) in their most recent outing. Texas Tech is currently No. 8 in the country in scoring offense, averaging 79.5 points per game.
Arizona State's game vs. Texas Tech 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. in the Valley. Veteran broadcaster Jeff Munn is in his fourth year as the voice of ASU women's basketball.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
• Since 2005 the Sun Devils are 16-2 in December games. Their only losses in December games during that span came at Stanford last season and earlier this month when Auburn, currently No. 14 in the country, defeated the Sun Devils 75-69 in the finals of the Verizon Wireless ASU Classic.
• Texas Tech is the second of three Big 12 schools which ASU will be playing during the regular season. Last month ASU was beaten by current No. 9 Oklahoma at the Caribbean Challenge in Cancun, Mexico. Next Thursday ASU will host No. 20 Texas at Wells Fargo Arena.
• Thursday's game at Texas Tech will be ASU's only road game in the month of December. The Sun Devils will play their next four games at Wells Fargo Arena before traveling to the state of Oregon for their first Pac-10 road trip of the season to take on Oregon (Jan. 3) and Oregon State (Jan. 5).
• Currently tied with former Sun Devil Stephanie Freeman (1995-98) for 17th place on the school's all-time scoring list with 1,017 points, senior Jill Noe needs four points to move past Amanda Levens (1999-2002) for 16th place, eight points to move past Kylan Loney (2001-05) for 15th place and 17 points to move past Kim Griffee (1979-81) for 14th place. Noe is averaging 14 points, 4.3 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 3.0 steals in her last three outings. During that span, Noe is shooting 58.6 percent from the field, including 7-15 (.467) from three-point range.
• Junior Lauren Lacey is averaging 14.3 points and 7.7 rebounds in ASU's last three games. During that span Lacey has set new career highs in both scoring (20 points vs. Auburn on Dec. 2) and rebounds (10 rebounds vs. UC Davis on Dec. 9).
• The Sun Devils are averaging 22.0 assists in each of their last three games, including a season-best 26 assists vs. Gonzaga on Nov. 30. Junior Briann January (5.0 apg) and Noe (4.3 apg) have combined to average more than nine assists per game during that span.
SERIES HISTORY VS. TEXAS TECH
The Sun Devils lead the all-time series 3-2. Last season's 61-45 win at Chase Field was the first time the two schools played since 1987. Junior Danielle Orsillo, who is currently sidelined because of injury, led the Sun Devils with 16 points last year's win. Texas Tech was victorious (69-57) the lone time it faced the Sun Devils in Lubbock in 1987.
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 Monday.
In ASU's 77-56 win over UC Davis on Sunday 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.
Thompson currently leads the Sun Devils and is third in the Pac-10 in field goal percentage (.600).
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 eight games junior Briann Janaury is first on the team in scoring (11.1 ppg) assists per game (4.5 apg), steals per game (2.4 spg), made free throws (35) and attempts (40) and free throw percent (.875). Junior Lauren Lacey is first on the team in rebounding (6.6 rpg) and second in scoring (10.8 ppg).
IT'S BETTER TO GIVE THAN RECEIVE
The Sun Devils had 21 assists in their 77-56 win over UC Davis on Dec. 9. It was the 14th 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. 8 in the nation in assists per game, the Sun Devils have averaged 22 assists in their last three 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 (11.1 ppg) and first in assists per game (4.5 apg), steals per game (2.4 spg), made free throws (35) and free throw percent (.875).
SUN DEVILS WORK THROUGH EARLY SEASON INJURIES
When senior guard Reagan Pariseau suffered an ankle injury in the first half of ASU's eventual win over Gonzaga on Nov. 30, it represented the latest in a series of bumps and bruises the Sun Devils have encountered to start the season. ASU players have already missed a total of 11 games because of injury 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.
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 minutes a game and has averaged 9.5 points and 6.0 rebounds while shooting 67 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 six points in ASU's most recent win over UC Davis on Sunday.
Less than one week after scoring a career-best 21 points at North Carolina, junior guard Danielle Orsillo was diagnosed with a bone bruise on her knee. On Nov. 19, head coach Charli Turner Thorne announced that Orsillo would be out for at least one month before her is situation reevaluated.
Pariseau has missed ASU's last two games against Auburn (Dec. 2) and UC Davis (Dec. 9) since injuring her ankle on Nov. 30.
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.
Through ASU's first eight games, Lacey is second on ASU in scoring (10.8 ppg) and first in rebounding (6.6 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. The leader in field goal percentage during her two seasons at Tennessee, Dosty has connected on 56.4 percent of her shots (22-39). 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.
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."
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 (163) in the Pac-10 Conference.
SPARKY'S KIDS TO COLLEGE FIELD TRIP BRINGS KIDS ONE STEP CLOSER TO COLLEGE
On December 17, 2007, the Arizona State women's basketball team will host "Sparky's Kids to College Field Trip Day." The event will bring thousands of elementary school students from around Maricopa County to Arizona State's game against Fresno State, which will have a special 11 a.m. start time. The purpose of the "Field Trip" is to expose elementary-aged children to a university campus and intercollegiate athletics.
"A lot of these kids who would not have otherwise been able to come to the game, probably never been on a college campus," ASU head coach Charli Turner Thorne said after last season's event which hosted more than 5,000 students. "So it really was a wonderful opportunity for a lot of these kids who might think more about college and maybe they think more about supporting the Sun Devils, too."
Students attending Monday's game will be provided with a curriculum workbook, which was put together by Dr. Raul Cardenas and Natalie Nailor of Access ASU. The workbook will include age-appropriate lessons, covering the range of grade levels. During timeouts and at halftime students will be informed of the importance of a college education and the abundance of career opportunities that are available to college graduates.
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.