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Women's Basketball hosts ASU Classic

December 03, 2010

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After being on the road for the last three weeks the Arizona State women's basketball team returns home this weekend to host the annual ASU Classic, which will also include Cal Poly, New Mexico and Lamar.

The action begins on Friday when ASU takes on Cal Poly at 6 p.m. Then, 25 minutes after the conclusion of the ASU-Cal Poly game, Lamar will face New Mexico. Then on Saturday, Cal Poly will face Lamar/New Mexico at 2 p.m. and ASU will face Lamar/New Mexico 25 minutes after the conclusion of the first game (Note: While times for ASU's and Cal Poly's games are set regardless of Friday's outcomes, Saturday's games will still feature a `consolation game' and a `championship game' in which the two winners from Friday's games will meet).

The Sun Devils have been racking up the frequent flyer miles since opening the season with an 81-46 home win over Northern Arizona on November 12. Two days later they travel to UC Riverside where they came away with a 58-47 win. Then one week later (Nov. 21) the Sun Devils found themselves in Knoxville, Tenn., where they fell to the then-fourth-ranked Lady Vols 80-64. Finally the Sun Devils concluded their road trip Thanksgiving weekend at the Junkanoo Jam in the Bahamas where they defeated Providence 63-56 before encountering a tough 65-55 loss against No. 15/14 Florida State in which the Sun Devils led for most of the game.

Dymond Simon was named to the Junkanoo Jam All-Tournament Team after averaging 11.5 points, 3.0 rebounds, 3.0 steals and 2.5 assists in the two games. Also coming through with a strong weekend was Janae Fulcher, who averaged 11.5 points, while connecting on 83 percent of her shots (10-12) for the weekend.

Cal Poly (2-2) will be playing its first game since Nov. 22. Similar to the Sun Devils, the early part of the Mustangs' schedule has been dominated by assignments away from home. Cal Poly is currently in a stretch in which they are play six of their first seven games away from home. The Mustangs, who lost 2010 Big West Conference Player of the year Kirstina Santiago in their first game of the season, are led by senior guard Rachel Clancy (13.8 ppg, 6.8 rpg), junior post Abby Bloetscher (10.8 ppg, 6.0 rpg) and junior guard Ashlee Burns (10.5 ppg).

The Sun Devils have won the ASU Classic eight times in the last nine years with the exception coming in 2007 when ASU was defeated by Auburn 63-57 in the finals.


A webcast of Friday's ASU-Cal Poly game can be seen live on Fox Sports Arizona's website. The stream can be accessed by going to Friday's game can also be heard via ASU's All-Access package on Pre-game coverage will begin at 5:30 p.m. Veteran broadcaster Jeff Munn is in his seventh season as the voice of ASU women's basketball.


This will be only the second time that ASU and Cal Poly have met. The Sun Devils were victorious in the only prior meeting, 84-68 in 1999.


It's still early in the season for these kinds of stats, but for what it's worth as the first month of the season nears its conclusion, the Sun Devils have the No. 4 strength of schedule in the country according to


One of the cornerstones of head coach Charli Turner Thorne's formula for success over the years has been defense. In its first two games of the season ASU held both of its opponents under 50 points, limiting Northern Arizona to 46 points and UC Riverside to 47 points. Those two games marked the 38th and 39th times since the 2005-06 season that the Sun Devils have held the opposition under 50 points. Not surprisingly, ASU's record in those games is a perfect 39-0.


Rewind back to the first week of March in 2009. At that time the Sun Devils were in the midst of a school record 15-game winning streak and were preparing to challenge the Stanford Cardinal for a share of the Pac-10 title in the regular-season finale. It was in that game that fate would deal the Sun Devils a terrible blow as All-Pac-10 guard Dymond Simon went down with a season-ending knee injury for the second time in three years. With the loss of such an incredible talent ASU's outlook not only for the 2009 postseason, but also the 2009-10 season suddenly became unclear.

While the 2008-09 Sun Devils would end up making a dramatic run which concluded with the program's second Elite Eight appearance in three season, the 2009-10 squad was greatly affected by the loss of Simon's leadership and abilities on the floor.

After taking the 2009-10 season to recover and rehab from the injury, Simon is back now and immediately makes the Sun Devils a squad that others need to take notice of not only within the Pac-10, but around the country. At the time of her injury in 2009, Simon was seventh in the Pac-10 in scoring (13.8 ppg), second in free throw percentage (.882), sixth in 3-point field goal percentage (.381), eighth in assists (3.3 apg) and assist-to-turnover ratio and 14th in 3-point field goals per game (1.3). The aforementioned 88.2 percent mark in accuracy from the free throw line set the school's single-season record.

Simon's play has already been a major factor for the Sun Devils this season as she has led or tied for the team lead in scoring four times in five games. Most recently she was named to the Junkanoo Jam's All-Tournament Team after averaging 11.5 points, 3.0 rebounds, 3.0 steals and 2.5 assists in ASU's contests against Providence and Florida State.

Simon's aggressiveness on the offensive end has also help her to the line on a consistent basis as she leads the Sun Devils in both free throw attempts (25) and makes (20). Defensively speaking, Simon set a career high with six steals in ASU's win vs. NAU.

Simon is currently 11th on ASU's all-time list with 69 career 3-point field goals and seventh in career free throw percentage (.798). Currently with 903 career points, Simon needs 97 points to reach 1,000 for her career.


As ASU's most productive returning starter from last season, senior forward Becca Tobin will be looked to for her continued solid contributions on both ends of the floor in addition to combining with fellow seniors Simon and Tenaya Watson to provide strong leadership for the team. Last season Tobin led the team in rebounding (6.4 rpg) and free throw percentage (.848), was second in scoring (9.7 ppg) and blocks per game (1.2) and third in field goal percentage (.491). A starter in 28 of 32 games, Tobin scored in double figures 15 times, including a career-high 20 points (8-10 FGs, 4-4 FTs) at Oregon (Feb. 13). In addition, Tobin concluded the 2009-10 campaign by making 37 of her last 40 free throws (.925). Tobin has led the team in rebounding three times thus far this season. Currently in 5th place on ASU's all-time career list with 77 blocks, Tobin needs three more rejections to pass Rachel Holt (1997-00) for 4th place.


The Sun Devils have three new additions to their roster in 2010-11 -- freshman guard Adrianne Thomas, freshman forward Olivia Simmons, and junior college transfer Olivia Major.

Thomas is currently tied for second on the team in free throw attempts (17).

Major missed the first three games as she recovered from a shoulder injury before making her debut against Providence (Nov. 26). Major figures to provide the Sun Devils with immediate help in their perimeter game as she led the nation last season among the junior college ranks, making 142 3-point field goals for her Central Arizona squad.

Simmons is injured and out indefinitely.

While she is not new to ASU's 2010-11 roster, redshirt junior Markisha Patterson is also making her debut this season. Patterson, who sat out last season as she recovered from a knee injury, is averaging 13.2 minutes in ASU's first five contests and contributing 4.2 ppg and 2.8 rpg.


With Simon injured last season, the responsibilities for running the Sun Devil offense fell largely on the shoulders of junior college transfer Tenaya Watson. As part of NJCAA national runner-up (2008) and NJCAA champion (2009) teams during her two seasons at Central Arizona, Watson, operating primarily from the shooting guard position, putting together an impressive offensive resume as she averaged 16.6 points as a freshman and 13.8 points as a sophomore.

Fast forward to the beginning of 2009-10 season and Watson was inserted into the point position. Despite being out of her usual position, Watson would go on to display several flashes of brilliance during the season as she tied for first on the team in assists per game (2.5 apg), was second in steals (1.4 spg), third in scoring average (8.0 ppg) and fifth in field goal pct. (.477).

ASU's attempt at a sixth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance last season was affected by a foot injury Watson suffered which forced her to miss three games during the second half of the Pac-10 season.

With the return of Simon and the addition of promising freshman guard Adrianne Thomas, Watson figures to be an even stronger contributor this season as she operates from her more familiar position.

"I am excited about Tenaya," says Sun Devil head coach Charli Turner Thorne. "Last she had a phenomenal season despite having to play out of position and this year she gets to play her true position. Also with a year of experience now I think she gets what it take to play at our level."

Watson has started all five of ASU's contests this season and is currently averaging 8.2 points per game (2nd on the team), 4.5 rebounds (tied for 3rd on the team and the most among ASU's guards), 1.6 steals (2nd on the team) and 1.4 assists (tied for 3rd on the team). In addition, she is second on the team in free throws made (15) and is first on the team in free throw percentage among players with more than 10 attempts (.882).


Since 2004 the Sun Devils have won nearly 84 percent (77-15) of the games they have played at Wells Fargo Arena. In the last two-plus seasons ASU is 13-1 at home in non-conference games.