Lady Sun Devils To Face Wisconsin At NCAA's

Selection Sunday was supposed to be a joyous occasion at coach Charli Turner-Throne's home. The Women's Basketball coach was celebrating her birthday, and her players were anticipating the announcement of when and where the Pac-10 tournament champions will play this week. When ASU's ninth place seeding was announced, this cheerful gathering turned into a much-subdued event.

The Lady Sun Devils will meet eighth seed Wisconsin in Nashville, TN. If ASU prevails they will have the dubious honor of playing host school and the Midwest region's number one ranked Vanderbilt on their home floor. Not exactly the path a major conference champion would predict. "We said before the selection show, that we'll be ready to play whoever we play." Said Turner-Thorne "Do we do deserve a higher seed? Yes. We're gonna take what we got. We feel that we can beat anybody in the country. Obviously you'd like an easier way into the sweet sixteen. I don't know what we have to do to get more respect. How can we go 24-8, and you have teams with less wins and double digit losses ranked ahead of us? To me it's makes no sense. But nothing could motivate us more than what we saw on TV right now. The bottom line is that your play speaks for itself. If you got out and beat teams, you'll get respect."

Senior guard Amada Levens took the low seeding in stride: "It's just another Basketball game. I don't look at the (seeding) number in front our name. We just have to play good Sun Devil Basketball to win. We can look at this as an opportunity. We're just happy to still be playing Basketball. We don't need more motivation that what we already have." Senior forward Melody Johnson concurs: "It doesn't matter what seed we are. We're just gonna play our best Basketball. It seems that in the last two years people think that Arizona State is just getting lucky (posting good seasons). We can really show them how good we are. Give us the challenge, and we'll thrive on it. I think this is better. Being the underdogs, you play stronger and you surprise people."

As if ASU needed another motivation for this week, the disappointing first round exit last year is still a painful memory. But the Lady Sun Devils' coach, puts a positive spin on it: "Last year's experience will be great for us. We didn't play our best Basketball….we pressed too hard. We also have this year's Pac-10 tournament under our belt. We'll be more savvy, poised, and play our best Basketball." Johnson is naturally hoping for a better showing: "We like to stick a little bit longer this time (smile). We got the jitters out, and we can pass that to the freshmen. We don't have to fear the atmosphere, and be nervous. We just need to be relaxed and play hard."

For the two standout seniors, this weekend could mark their last game(s) as Sun Devils en route to a likely professional career. But Levens isn't about to get nostalgic now: "I just want to play as much more as I can. I think that's all the seniors' mentality. There's no guarantee that you'll play competitive Basketball after college, and I'm not thinking about life after College Basketball. I'm just putting all my focus on the NCAA tournament, and making sure that the rest of the team does too." Johnson adds: "I don't think too far into the future. Every game, every possession, we'll think of it as our last. We just need to have a great time, and have fun out there."

Suffice to say the NCAA committee didn't do ASU any favors seeding them ninth in the tournament. Nevertheless, their actions don't diminish from the excellent season ASU's women's Basketball has had. Furthermore, it can help fuel a team, which relishes challenges and takes full advantage of them. In these days, where ASU's Football and Men's' Basketball have underachieved, the maroon and gold faithful are rallying behind the Lady Sun Devils: "We go so much support from the school and community." Says Johnson " We got so many emails and phone calls from people we don't even know. It's helpful when you have so many people behind you." This team's abundance of support and motivation could translate into a successful tournament run, and that's something that the NCAA committee didn't expect. It's always nice to prove people wrong.

Sun Devil Source Top Stories