Women's basketball hosts UC Riverside

Game Notes in PDF Format Get Acrobat Reader

The Arizona State women's basketball team opens its 2011-12 season this Friday (noon MT) when it hosts UC Riverside at Wells Fargo Arena.

Friday's game will be the first of two the Sun Devils will play this weekend. On Sunday they will play their first road game of the season when they visit Colorado State (2 p.m. MT).

Friday's game will be the first official game for Joseph Anders as interim head coach of the Sun Devils. A member of the ASU coaching staff since 2001-02, Anders will be guding the Sun Devils this season in place of Charli Turner Thorne, who announced last May that she was taking a one-year leave of absence.

This season Anders will look to help the Sun Devils continue the run of success that he has played a major role in establishing since he joined the Sun Devil coaching staff June of 2001.

Last season the Sun Devils qualified for the post season for the 12th consecutive year after earning their sixth NCAA Tournament bid in seven years. In addition, the Sun Devils finished third in the Pac-10, marking the ninth time in 11 seasons that they have finished among the top three in the Pac-10.

Anders got his first glimpse of the 2011-12 Sun Devils in last week's 66-35 exhibition win over Azusa Pacific. Freshman guard Promise Amukamara scored 10 of her game-high 14 points in the second half as ASU put on a strong performance in the victory.

Amukamara, a local product from Glendale, was 7-of-11 from the field while grabbing seven steals and dishing out a pair of assists.

Senior forward Kimberly Brandon and freshman forward Jada Blackwell added 12 points each for the Sun Devils, who shot 42 percent from the field.

The Sun Devil defense held Azusa Pacific to a 21 percent shooting effort (12-57) while scoring 32 points off the Cougars' 24 turnovers.

Senior guard Alex Earl and Brandon each scored eight points in the first half to help ASU take a 32-17 lead at the half.

The Sun Devils opened the second half with an 18-3 run to take a 50-20 lead following Blackwell's 3-pointer with 13:08 left in the game.

ASU would lead by as many as 34 points in the second half, as they shot 50 percent from the field (15-30) over the last 20 minutes.
A webcast of Friday's ASU-UC Riverside game can be seen live on Fox Sports Arizona's website. The stream can be accessed by going to www.foxsportsarizona.com.

Friday's game can also be heard live thesundevils.com (premium subscription required). Pre-game coverage will begin at 11:30 a.m. Vince Marotta and former Sun Devil women's basketball head coach Maura McHugh will have the call.

• Entering his 11th season at Arizona State (1st season as interim head coach).
• Was named ASU's interim head coach on May 2, 2011 after Charli Turner Thorne announced she was taking a one-year leave of absence from the program.
• Has played a big role in helping to lead the Sun Devils to seven NCAA appearances during his time at ASU while maintaining the program's current run of 12 consecutive postseason appearances.
• Previously served as the head coach of the Sacramento State men's program for six seasons.
• Anders was originally named Sacramento State's interim head coach in December of 1986 after serving one season as an assistant. Anders earned Northern California Coach of the Year accolades, was nominated for regional coach-of-the-year honors and was promoted to head coach on a permanent basis the following year.
• In his first full season as head coach Anders guided the Hornets to one of the best seasons in school history, posting a 22-6 record, advancing to the 1988 NCAA Division II Tournament and finishing the season ranked eighth in the nation.
• In November, 2011, Anders' 1987-88 Sacramento State squad was honored by the Sacramento State Basketball Hall of Fame.
• Anders spent six seasons as the head coach at Sacramento State, turning in a 75-86 record and guiding the program to the Division I ranks in 1991-92.
• First coaching position was working as a student assistant at his alma mater, Arkansas-Monticello (1981).
• Moved to Wilmar (Ark.) High School (1981-84) where he was hired as a full-time teacher and became athletics director and head coach of both the boys' and girls' basketball teams and track and field teams.
• Helped guide the Wilmar boys' team to the 1982 state title and led the girls to a runner-up finish at the 1984 state tournament.
• First collegiate assistant job came at the University of Arkansas (1984-85) where he was an assistant coach for the women's team.  
• After serving as assistant coach/head coach at Sacramento State (1985-92), accepted a position on the men's team at Northern Arizona (1992-94).
• Would also serve as an assistant for the women's programs at Mississippi State (1994-96), New Mexico State (1996-2000) and East Carolina (2000-01) before joining Charli Turner Thorne's staff in 2001.    
• Started college career as a walk-on at Southern Baptist College in Walnut Ridge, Ark, where he earned a scholarship after starting 22 of 30 games his freshman season. As a sophomore, he was named a team captain and earned all-conference honors.
• Transferred to the University of Arkansas-Monticello for his final two collegiate seasons where he was a two-time all-conference selection.
• Earned his bachelor's degree in physical education from Arkansas-Monticello.

The Sun Devils have won all three of prior their meetings against the Highlanders. The first meeting occurred in the 2007 NCAA Tournament when the third-seeded Sun Devils overcame a double-digit second-half deficit to top the 14th-seeded Highlanders, 57-50. Former Sun Devil Briann January scored 15 points to lead ASU, which closed the game on a 19-2 run after falling behind by 10 with just under eight minutes left.

In December 2008 the Sun Devils came away with a 68-45 win at Wells Fargo Arena. Former Sun Devils Dymond Simon (9 points and 5 assists) and Becca Tobin (6 points, 13 rebounds, 2 blocks) both contributed in the win as ASU outscored the Highlanders 44-25 in the second half to break open what was a four-point Sun Devil advantage at the half.

In the most recent meeting last season, Simon scored a game-high 15 points and Kali Bennett grabbed 11 rebounds as the Sun Devil defeated the Highlanders 58-47. The Sun Devils held a superior advantage on the boards, outrebounding the Highlanders 50-23, including a 20-1 advantage on the offensive boards which translated into a plus-18 difference in second chance points (20-2). The Sun Devils broke open the game with a 20-6 run over the first 8:15 of the second half to turn their three-point halftime advantage (24-21) into a 17-point lead (44-27).

The Sun Devils have been victorious in 12 of their last 13 season openers with the only blemish during that span coming in a 75-60 setback at North Carolina in the 2007 State Farm Tip-Off Classic. Last season the Sun Devils defeated Northern Arizona at home, 81-46.

One of the cornerstones of ASU's formula for success over the years has been defense. The Sun Devils have held the opposition to 50 or fewer points 47 times since the 2005-06 season, including 10 times last season. ASU's record in those 47 games is 46-1.

With the addition of two more schools -- Colorado and Utah -- in conference play this season, the Sun Devils will look to continue the impressive run of success they've had in conference play in recent years. Below is a summary of that success...
• ASU has won 73 percent of its regular season league conference games (79-29) going back to the 2005-06 season.
• ASU finished among the top three teams in the Pac-10 nine times in the last 11 years.
• Since 2000-01, the Sun Devils are second only to Stanford in the number of wins (244), number of NCAA Tournament appearances (8), number of Elite Eight appearances (2) and are tied with UCLA for the second-most appearances in the conference title game (3).

Without question one of the biggest reasons for ASU's success last season was the emergence of forward Kimberly Brandon, who earned Pac-10 honorable mention recognition in 2011.

After the first month of the 2010-11 season, the decision was made to move Brandon inside after the Chatsworth, Calif., product spent the first five games of the season out on the wing. After the move Brandon's production improved dramatically as she went from averaging 5.6 ppg and 4.2 rpg in the first five games to 12.0 ppg and 9.4 rpg during ASU's ensuing seven-game winning streak. Brandon recorded three double-doubles during the winning streak, including a pair of in back-to-back wins over Oregon State (19 points, 11 rebounds) and Oregon (19 points, 12 rebounds) as she established a new single-game career high in scoring against the Beavers before duplicating the feat two days later against the Ducks.

Brandon, who averaged 11.3 points and 6.7 rebounds in Pac-10 play, added her fourth double-double (13 points, 10 rebounds) in ASU's win over Arizona (Jan. 16). She scored 18 points, which came one point shy of matching her prior career high, in ASU's loss to No. 4 Stanford (Feb. 3). Brandon scored 15 of her career-high 21 points in the second half of ASU's 55-47 win at Washington State (Feb. 19). Brandon also recorded her fifth double-double of the season against the Cougars as she added 10 rebounds.

Brandon averaged 17.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.5 steals while shooting 54 percent from the field, including 60 percent from 3-point range, and 86 percent from the line in ASU's wins at Oregon and at Oregon State. She scored 22 of her 35 points in the second half of both games - 12 at Oregon and 10 at Oregon State - while shooting 60 percent from the field (9-15).

Brandon closed the 2010-11 season by scoring a team-high 11 points in the Sun Devils' NCAA Tournament loss to Temple.

    Since 2004 the Sun Devils have won 84 percent (88-18) of the games they have played at Wells Fargo Arena. In the last three seasons ASU is 17-1 (.944) at home in non-conference games. Last season the Sun Devils outscored the opposition by an average of 8.8 points in 14 home games.

The Sun Devils have four new additions to their roster in 2010-11 -- freshman guards Promise Amukamara and Eliza Normen, freshman post Jada Blackwell and junior guard Micaela Pickens.

A local product, who attended Glendale Apollo High School, Amukamara was named the state of Arizona's Gatorade girls' basketball player of the year in 2011 following a season in which she helped lead Apollo to the 4A-1 state title. Amukamara averaged 21.7 points, 10.8 rebounds, 6.8 assists and 5.3 steals per game her senior year as she would go on to earn Arizona Basketball Coaches Association 4A-I Player of the Year and the Big School Player of the Year honors. Amukamara, whose brother Prince was a first round draft choice (cornerback) by the New York Giants in the 2011 NFL Draft, competed for the Nigerian National Team this past summer at the 2011 FIBA U19 World Championship.

Normen earned McDonald's All-America honors following an outstanding career at Monarch High School in Louisville (pronounced Lewis-ville), Colo. As a junior, Normen averaged 13.9 points, 5.9 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.2 blocks per game as she helped lead her squad to a 22-5 record and an appearance in the state semifinals. Normen would have her senior season cut short by a knee injury after 17 games. At the tme of her injury, Normen was leading her fourth-ranked team with 14.9 points per game to go along with 3.7 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 2.0 steals.

Blackwell helped lead her Etiwanda High School team to a 24-4 season as a senior as she scored 17.0 points per game while adding 5.7 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.2 steals. Blackwell was named team MVP following a 2010 season in which she led her team to the CIF State Tournament. She would also earn First-Team All-San Bernardino honors in 2010 as Etiwanda posted a 24-8 record, including a perfect 10-0 record in league games.

A 2011 Junior College State Farm Coaches' All-American, Pickens transferred to ASU from Cypress College (Cypress, Calif.), where she helped lead the Chargers to a third-place state finish last season. Pickens finished fourth in the state in scoring (22.9 ppg) in 2011 on her way to being named the California junior college South Player of the Year and a State Farm Junior College All-American. Pickens' campaign included a pair of contests in which she went over the 40-point mark. In addition she went on to set the school record for most career blocks with 114. As a freshman in 2010, Pickens led the Chargers in scoring (15.9 ppg) as she would go on to earn All-Orange Empire Conference First-Team honors in addition to Second-Team All-State recognition.

In addition to the four new players on the roster, the Sun Devils also welcomed two new assistant coaches -- Amy Wright and Chris Mennig -- in the offseason.

Wright, who joined the Sun Devil staff on May 16, 2011 came to ASU following a successful three-year stint at Cleveland State - the final year as associate coach - where she was part of a coaching staff that helped lead the program to 59 wins, a conference tournament title, a pair of postseason berths and its first-ever postseason win.

At CSU Wright served as the program's recruiting coordinator in addition to assisting with game preparation, scouting and player development, specifically working with the squad's point guards.

Mennig joined the Sun Devil program on August 16, 2011 after serving for six years as a National Evaluator and Event Coordinator for U.S. Junior Nationals (USJN) & Blue Star Basketball both owned by grassroots pioneer Mike Flynn. USJN is one of longest running event operating companies in girls' basketball and Mennig directed more than 20 tournaments across the country last year. Blue Star Basketball is the longest running national scouting service organization that ranks & evaluates girls' basketball players across the country for colleges/media.

Mennig is no stranger to the world of major women's college basketball as he spent 11 years as an assistant (most recently at Illinois from 2003-05) and was a runner-up for St. Louis University's head coaching position in the spring of 2005 before joining USJN/Blue Star.

The Sun Devils go on the road for the first time in 2011-12, when they travel to Fort Collins, Colo., to take on Colorado State. Game time on Sunday is 2 p.m. MT.