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Women's basketball faces Xavier in Cincinnati

November 20, 2009

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The No. 14/7 Arizona State women’s basketball team continues its current road trip when it travels Cincinnati, Ohio, to face the No. 9/13 Xavier Musketeers on Saturday (2 p.m. ET/noon MT). Saturday’s game is the second of four consecutive contests the Sun Devils are playing away from home. ASU began its current road trip with an 82-46 win at Yale on Thursday.

Xaiver represents the second of five 2009 NCAA Tournament teams the Sun Devils have or will face during the non-conference portion of their schedule. ASU defeated 32-game winner and 2009 NCAA participant South Dakota State in its opener, 73-64. Over the next several weeks the Sun Devils will also face East Tennessee State (Nov. 28 at Hawaii Tournament), No. 15/8 Texas A&M (Dec. 19 in Las Vegas) and No. 8/9 Baylor (Dec. 20 in Las Vegas).

On the air
Arizona State’s game at Xavier can be heard live on 1440 KAZG. Pre-game coverage will begin at 11:30 a.m. in the Valley. Veteran broadcaster Jeff Munn is in his sixth season as the voice of ASU women’s basketball.

Preseason rankings
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 2008-09 Associated Press 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 ASU’s highest in school history. ASU was also ranked No. 7 prior to facing Stanford in the 2007 Pac-10 Tournament championship game.

Preseason predictions
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.

Scouting Xavier
Saturday’s game will be Xavier’s second contest of the season. The Musketeers opened the season with an 81-71 overtime win at USC. Xavier was picked to repeat as champions of the Atlantic 10 Conference, receiving 12 of 14 first-place votes. Junior forward Amber Harris (19 points and 12 rebounds at USC) and junior center Ta’Shia Phillips (14 points and 11 rebounds at USC) were both named to the Preseason All-Atlantic 10 First Team and the All-Defensive Team.

ASU and USC are the only Pac-10 schools the Musketeers have ever faced with each meeting coming within the last calendar year.

If the Sun Devils are able to come out on top on Saturday, they will do it against a program that has won its last 17 home openers dating back to 1992.

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. In addition, under Turner Thorne ASU has also proven to be nearly as effective when it is playing away from home. In the last three seasons the Sun Devils have won more than nearly 71 percent of their games when they were the visiting team or made a trip to a neutral site.

Who is returnng?
#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... Has averaged 9.0 points, 3.5 assists and 2.5 steals in ASU’s first two games of 2009-10.

#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... Through two games in 2009-10 has averaged 10.5 points and 9.5 rebounds while connecting on 60 percent of her shots... 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... Is averaging 2.0 points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in 2009-10 (18.5 mpg).

#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... Has been ASU’s top offensive threat through two games in 2009-10, averaging 16.0 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.0 blocks while connecting on 65 percent of her shots... 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... Is currently averaging 8.0 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists... 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... Made all four of her field goal attempts, including a pair of 3-pointers, and scored a career-high 12 points in ASU’s win over Yale (Nov. 19).

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 78-77... Has started both games in 2009-10 and has averaged 5.0 points and 5.5 assists... Scored 8 points, grabbed 7 rebounds and dished out seven assists in her Sun Devil debut against South Dakota State (Nov. 15).

#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... Is currently averaging 6.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.5 blocks and 2.0 steals... Scored seven points and grabbed three rebounds in season opener vs. South Dakota State (Nov. 19), her first official game as a Sun Devil... Solid outing at Yale (Nov. 19) included 6 points, eight rebounds, 3 steals and 2 blocks.

#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)... Is currently averaging 6.5 points and 6.0 rebounds while connecting on 67 percent of her shots... Had the first double-double of her career with 11 points (5-6 FGs) and 10 rebounds in 12 minutes of play at Yale (Nov. 19).

#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... Has averaged 7.0 minutes in ASU’s first two games... Scored 4 points and had 5 rebounds in ASU’s win at Yale (Nov. 19).

#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)... Has played 16 minutes in each of ASU’s first two games and has averaged 3.5 points.

#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... Is currently averaging 2.5 points and 3.0 assists (20.5 mpg).

Adrianne Thomas signs with ASU
Charli Turner Thorne today announced on November 11 that Adrianne Thomas signed a national letter of intent to study and play basketball at Arizona State.

“I could not be more excited about the addition of Adrianne Thomas,” Turner Thorne said. “She is a powerful, explosive scoring combo guard who will fit in perfectly with our up-tempo offense and aggressive pressuring defense.

“Adrianne is an extremely tough and smart competitor who has had outstanding coaching through her high school and club programs. I predict she will adapt to the college game very quickly. Besides being one of the top guards in the country, Adrianne comes from an amazing family who has instilled in her great core values including impeccable character and strong leadership. She will be a great Sun Devil.”

A 5-9 guard, Thomas will be coming to ASU from Summit High School in Fontana, Calif., where she has earned Sunkist League MVP honors three times. In 2009 Thomas, who has scored in double figures 32 times the last two seasons, earned All-Sunkist League First-Team and All-CIF Southern Section First-Team recognition after leading her team to the state semifinals.

As a sophomore in 2008, Thomas helped Summit to its first CIF sectional championship game and the state quarterfinals. With her FBC club team she was named to the All-Tournament Teams of the adidas Womanhood National Championships, Summertime Invitational and adidas Super 64.

“Adrianne is a superstar on the court, off the court, in the classroom and in the community,” said Summit girls basketball coach Alexis Barile. “On the court she’s the type of player that won’t allow our team to lose. In crunch situations she’s the one that pulls us together and makes sure we win. She has a refuse-to-lose mentally. She’s going to fit into the ASU program very well as a person first and then as a basketball player.”

Up next
The Sun Devils travel to Honolulu, Hawaii, for the Jack in the Box Rainbow Wahine Classic where they will face Hawaii (Fri., Nov. 27) and East Tennessee State (Sat., Nov. 28).