March 5, 2013
The Arizona State women's basketball team opens play in the Pac-12 Tournament on Thursday (6 p.m. PT/7 p.m. MT) when it takes on Washington State in a first round game.
The Sun Devils (13-17, 5-13 Pac-12) will be the No. 9 seed in Thursday's eight-nine match-up with the winner scheduled to meet top-seeded and fourth-ranked Stanford in the quarterfinal round on Friday at 6 p.m. PT/7 p.m. MT.
Despite its ninth-place finish in the Pac-12, the Sun Devils have proven to be a `tough out' this season as nine of their losses have been by eight points or less (four of those eight losses were to ranked teams).
The Sun Devils dropped both contests to Washington State (10-19, 6-12 Pac-12) this season, losing 74-61 in Pullman, Wash., on Jan. 6 and 54-43 in Tempe on Feb. 1.
Thursday's game vs. Washington State will be televised live by Pac-12 Networks. The game can also be heard live on The Fan AM 1060. Pre-game coverage will begin at 6:30 p.m. MT. Veteran broadcaster and the state of Arizona's 2010 Broadcaster of the Year Jeff Munn is in his ninth season as the voice of ASU women's basketball.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
• ASU will be the No. 9 seed in this year's Pac-12 Tournament, the first time in the tourney's history it has been in the No. 9 slot. The Sun Devils will be seeking their second Pac-10/12 Tournament title. ASU won the inaugural Pac-10 Tournament in 2002, defeating Stanford in the championship game, 70-63. The Sun Devils have appeared in the tournament's championship game on three occasions, most recently in 2007 when they lost to Stanford, 62-55. Last season ASU made it to the semifinal round where it was defeated by Stanford, 52-43.
• ASU has had the same starting lineup in all but five games this season (G - Promise Amukamara, G - Micaela Pickens, F - Janae Fulcher, C - Joy Burke). Freshman G Arnecia Hawkins made her first career start (in place of Pickens) in ASU's game at Utah (Jan. 20). Hawkins also started in place of Pickens at UCLA on Jan. 27 and again at Stanford on Feb. 10. Elisha Davis and Eliza Normen both made their first career start vs. Washington (Feb. 3). Normen got the starting nod again (in place of Janae Fulcher - ill) at No. 6 Cal (Feb. 8). Amukamara is the only player to start every game this season.
• ASU had three players recognized by the Pac-12 (as voted on by the league's coaches): sophomore guard Promise Amukamara (defensive honorable mention), redshirt senior forward Janae Fulcher (Pac-12 honorable mention) and freshman forward Haley Videckis (freshman honorable mention).
• As of March 3, ASU is ranked in the top half of the Pac-12 in assists (third, 13.5 ppg), offensive rebounds (fifth, 14.6 rpg), field goal percentage (sixth, .389), scoring defense (sixth, 60.2 ppg), rebounding margin (sixth, +1.7) and rebounding defense (sixth, 36.1).
• ASU has shot better than 50 percent four times this season, already exceeding the number of times it shot above 50 percent last season (3 times).
• ASU has had 14 or fewer turnovers eight times in its 16 last games, including a season-low 10 turnovers on two occasions.
• The Sun Devils have had 15 or more assists 12 times this season. They recorded a season-high 24 assists at Arizona (Feb. 19). Adrianne Thomas (3.0 apg - 10th) is currently among the Pac-12's leaders in assists.
• ASU's five-game winning streak earlier this season (snapped by Washington on Jan. 4) represented the 19th time since 2001 the Sun Devils have had a winning streak of five or more games.
• ASU spent much of the 2012-13 season on the road (15 of 30 games) as it played six of its first nine regular season games away from home and on Feb. 8 completed a stretch in which it played eight of its first 12 Pac-12 games on the road. The Sun Devils captured their first road win in conference play on Jan. 25, defeating USC 60-53. They followed that up with a near upset of then-No. 19 UCLA, before falling to the Bruins, 54-50.
• Nine of ASU's losses have been by eight or fewer points. ASU has either led or was tied in the second half in eight its losses.
• ASU head coach Charli Turner Thorne became the third Pac-12 coach to win at least 300 games when the Sun Devils defeated USC 60-53 in Los Angeles on Jan. 25. Turner Thorne, who coached Northern Arizona for three seasons (40-40 record) prior to coming to ASU, needs eight more wins to reach 350 career victories.
SERIES NOTES VS. WASHINGTON STATE (ASU LEADS 38-15)
ASU has won 27 of its last 32 meetings vs. Washington State. The two teams split the season series in 2010 and 2011 with the visiting team winning each game, ASU swept the season series last year and the Cougars won both meetings this season.
In 2008, ASU set the record for the fewest points ever allowed in a Pac-10/12 game with a 59-30 win over the Cougars.
IN CASE YOU ARE JUST JOINING US...
• This season the Sun Devils return a young team - eight of 11 players on the current active roster are in their first or second year in the program.
• Starting senior guard Deja Mann (the team's returning leading scorer from last season) is redshirting this season after suffering a knee injury in September.
• Also sitting out this season is Katie Hempen who transferred to ASU last spring from SIUE. In 2012, Hempen was named the Ohio Valley Conference Freshman of the Year and was a member of the All-Newcomer team.
• ASU won seven of eight games, including five in a row, prior to the start of Pac-12 play. The Sun Devils then lost their first two Pac-12 games at the Washington schools before rebounding the following week with home wins vs. Oregon and Oregon State. ASU went back on the road and dropped contests to Colorado (57-43) and Utah (66-46). ASU led Colorado at the half and led by five early in the second half before its offense went cold. One week later in Los Angeles, ASU overcame a 16-point second-half deficit to defeat USC 60-53. The Sun Devils, who did not have any players score in double figures, outscored the Trojans 40-17 and shot 59 percent in the second half. Two days later, ASU nearly upset then-No. 19 UCLA, before falling to the Bruins 54-50. The loss to UCLA started a seven-game losing streak for the Sun Devils, which they snapped with a dramatic 81-77 double-overtime win at Arizona (Feb. 19). They would also win the rematch against the Wildcats 59-54 (Feb. 24) in Tempe.
• Led by as many as 22 in eventual 74-58 win over Florida.
• Nine losses have been by eight points or less. Four of those seven those losses came to ranked teams (current AP ranking): vs. Dayton (11) - 59-65 on Dec. 2; at UCLA (14) - 50-54 on Jan. 27, vs. Colorado (18) - 63-71 on Feb. 17 and again to UCLA (14) - 50-58 on Mar. 1. ASU led by 14 against Dayton and led by 12 against Colorado. ASU held the Bruins 17.4 points below their scoring average in the first meeting and 10.8 points below their scoring average in the rematch.
• Leading scorer Janae Fulcher (head injury) did not play the last 30+ mins of ASU's 60-54 loss at UTEP. She also didn't play (ill) in ASU's 66-53 loss at No. 6 Cal (Feb. 8).
• Starting guard Micaela Pickens was injured and forced to miss time in ASU's losses at UTEP and at Washington State and did not play at all in ASU's 54-50 loss at UCLA.
INDIVIDUAL PLAYER NOTES
• Janae Fulcher has scored in double figures 16 times this season. Fulcher set new career highs in points (26) and field goals (13) in ASU's 74-58 win over Florida (Nov. 25) in the championship game of the South Point Thanksgiving Shootout in Las Vegas. Fulcher leads the team and is No. 5 in the Pac-12 in field goal percentage (.512). She recorded her second career double-double (15 points, 11 rebounds) at Washington (Jan. 4) and led ASU in scoring with 23 points at WSU (Jan. 6). She did not play due to illness in ASU's 66-53 loss at No. 6 Cal (Feb. 8). Added third career double-double (17 points, career-high 13 rebounds) in regular-season finale vs. USC (Mar. 3).
• Micaela Pickens is currently second on the team in blocks (0.7 bpg) and steals (1.2 spg) and is third in 3-point field goals made (25) and assists (2.0 apg). In December Pickens had a four-game stretch (@Providence, @BC, vs. USD, vs. Longwood) in which she averaged 12.5 points and shot 61 percent (19-31) from the field including 65 percent (11-17) from 3-point range. She had a career-high six assists at Washington (Jan. 4). Has played most of the conference season with foot injury, which originally occurred at Washington State (Jan. 6). The injury would cause her to miss ASU's game at UCLA (Jan. 27). Pickens has averaged 10.0 points and 5.8 rebounds in ASU's last four games.
• ASU's current leader in steals (1.9 spg) and free throw percentage (among players with 60+ attempts - .828) and second on the team in scoring (8.2 ppg), Promise Amukamara shot 55 percent from the floor (16-29 FGs) during ASU's five-game winning streak in December. She posted (then) career highs in points (15) and field goals (six) in ASU's win over Idaho State (Dec. 30). She scored all nine of her points (tied for the team lead) in the second half of ASU's 60-53 come-from-behind win over USC (Jan. 25). Over the last five games Amukamara has averaged 11.4 points (47.1 FG pct), 4.0 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 2.4 steals.
• Adrianne Thomas, ASU's leader in assists (2.9 apg), had a career-high eight assists vs. San Diego (Dec. 12). Earlier this season she scored a career-high 16 points at UTEP (Nov. 18). She shot 80 percent from the floor (8-10 FGs) and averaged 10.5 points in back-to-back games vs. Idaho State (Dec. 30) and at Washington (Jan. 4). She grabbed a career-high eight rebounds at Washington State (Jan. 6) and again at UCLA (Jan. 27). Thomas, who missed her first game as a Sun Devil (injured) vs. Washington (Feb. 3), had a recent seven-game stretch in which she made 90 percent of her free throws (18-20), more than 20 percentage points above her current percentage for the season (69.6).
• Joy Burke has seven of ASU's nine highest single-game rebounding efforts this season. She has grabbed a career-high 12 rebounds three times. She has scored 14 or more points four times this season, including a (then) career-best 16 points (7-14 FGs) at No. 6 Cal (Feb. 8). Burke averaged 16.0 points and 8.5 rebounds in ASU's back-to-back wins over Arizona (Feb. 19 & 24). She scored a career-high 18 points in the first meeting against the Wildcats in Tucson (Feb. 19).
• Arnecia Hawkins has scored seven or more points 12 times this season, including a season/career-high 18 points vs. Washington State (Feb. 1). She is currently second on the team in 3-point field goals (26).
• Elisha Davis has had three or more assists 11 times this season, including a career-high six assists at Washington (Jan. 4). She made her first career start vs. Washington (Feb. 3).
• Haley Videckis, who currently leads ASU's first-year players in scoring (6.7 ppg) and rebounding (3.3 rpg), has had five or more rebounds eight times this season. Videckis has scored 11 or more points six times, including a career-high 18 points at Arizona (Feb. 19).
• Eliza Normen, who has played in all 30 games this season, returned after redshirting her freshman season due to injury. She started her first career game vs. Washington (Feb. 3). She would get the starting nod against at Cal (Feb. 8). She had a career-high six rebounds vs. Utah (Feb. 15).
• Isidora Purkovic has played in 27 games this season and adds an important element to ASU's perimeter attack (shooting 40 percent from 3-point range/6-15.
• After playing a combined 27 minutes the first 18 games of the season, junior F Nisha Barrett came off the bench and gave the Sun Devils a huge lift in their games at USC (Jan. 25) and at UCLA (Jan. 27). Barrett averaged 12.0 minutes in the two games and scored four points in each game, connecting on 67 percent of the shots she took (4-6). She has played in all but one game (vs. Arizona, Feb. 24) since the USC contest.
Throughout Charli Turner Thorne's tenure at Arizona State, the program has been known for having one of toughest schedules in the country on an annual basis and the 2012-13 season has been no different as the Sun Devils faced nine non-conference foes which qualified for postseason play in 2012.
"We have a preseason schedule that is geared toward making us road warriors and toughening us up to prepare for Pac-12 play," Turner Thorne said prior to the season. "We have a stretch in Pac-12 where we have four road games in a row. This schedule is by design. We are on the road a lot this preseason and I think it is only going to make us better and tougher. We need to go in there and be consistent with our effort and our focus."
ASU started the season playing six of its first nine games away from home. The Sun Devils endured a similar stretch at the start of Pac-12 play as they played six of their first eight and eight of their first 12 conference games on the road.
The Sun Devil women's basketball program has consistently been among the Pac-12/Pac-10's best for the last several years both on the court and in the classroom...
• Since the 2000-01 season ASU is one of only two schools in the Pac-12 to have won both a regular season conference title and the conference tournament title.
• ASU's three appearances in the conference title game are tied for second most in the conference since tournament play started in 2002.
• ASU has finished third or higher in the Pac-12 nine times since 2001.
•Since 2005-06, ASU has led the Pac-12 in the number of conference first-team all-academic awards and the combined number of first- and second-team all-academic awards.
50 AND UNDER EQUALS SUCCESS
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 80 times since the 2004-05 season, including three times this season. ASU's record in those 80 games is 78-2.
Deja Mann TO REDSHIRT IN 2012-13
The Sun Devils were dealt a serious blow in September when Deja Mann, the team's most experienced player and leading scorer among returners from last year's team, was lost for the season with a knee injury.
A starter in 48 of 95 career games, Mann started all 32 games last season and led ASU in assists (3.4 apg), free throws made (56) and free throw percentage (.812). She finished third on the team in scoring and recorded double figures in points nine times in 2011-12 with seven of those instances coming in the last 15 games of the season. Her 22 points at USC (Feb. 15, 2012) were the most scored by a Sun Devil last season.
SIUE TRANSFER Katie Hempen JOINS ACTIVE ROSTER IN 2013-14
Also redshirting this season (due to NCAA transfer rules) is sophomore guard Katie Hempen. A 5-8 guard, Hempen transferred to ASU last spring from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville where last season she was named the Ohio Valley Conference's Freshman of the Year. A four-time OVC Freshman of the Week honoree, Hempen scored in double figures 15 times in 2011-12, including a season-best 19 points on two occasions.
TURNER THORNE RETURNS FOR 16TH SEASON; JOINS ELITE GROUP OF PAC-12 COACHES
Following a one-year sabbatical, Charli Turner Thorne returns for her 16th season as head coach of the Sun Devil women's basketball program.
"I really used [the sabbatical] to grow myself as a person," Turner Thorne said. "I think after 23 straight years in college coaching you can lose yourself a little bit. I worked on becoming a better coach, and in many ways, becoming a better wife, and a better mom and a better me. It was absolutely amazing. I do have a new and even better perspective."
The all-time winningest coach in program history and No. 3 in the Pac-12 in career wins (302), Turner Thorne has turned Sun Devil women's basketball into one of the nation's premiere programs since taking over in 1996-97. Included in ASU's current run of 13 consecutive postseason appearances is a school record five-consecutive NCAA Tournament bids from 2005-09. During that time the Sun Devils qualified for the Elite Eight on a pair of occasions, making ASU one of only 15 programs in the country to have qualified for the Elite Eight at least two times since 2007.
On Jan. 25, 2013 Turner Thorne became the third Pac-12 coach to reach 300 victories following ASU's 60-53 win over USC, a game in which ASU came back from 16 down in the second half. A closer look at Turner Thorne's path to 300 puts into perspective the incredible 180-degree turnaround Sun Devil women's basketball has undergone since she came to ASU. To reach 150 wins it took Turner Thorne 272 games (150-122 - .551) as she rebuilt a program that had an aggregate record of 20-60 in the three years prior to her arrival and only two NCAA Tournament wins in its history. It would take her 215 games to get 150 more wins. Since picking up her 150th win, Turner Thorne is 152-74 (.673). Included in those 150 wins are eight of Turner Thorne's 11 NCAA Tournament victories.
Turner Thorne, who coached at NAU for three seasons (40-40 record) prior to arriving at ASU, needs eight more wins to reach 350 for her career.