Lady Devils Gear Up For 2007-08 Season

The Arizona State Women's Basketball team was, to say the least, amped up for their first practice of the season Saturday morning. As the players shot free-throws they yelled out words of encouragement to one another and bounced around with contagious enthusiasm.

Whether they are still basking in the glory from their 31-5 season last year or just anxious to see what they will be able to accomplish this year, there is definitely a positive vibe between the players and coaches.

"I'm so excited!" exclaimed junior point guard Briann January. "I've been waiting for this for too long. We're back in action right now and it just feels really good."

The Women's Basketball team surpassed expectations last season, making it all the way to the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history. The team, which finished the 2006-07 season ranked 8th in the final USA Today/ ESPN coaches poll, is hoping to have another winning season with the help of dynamic players such as January.

"We are still seen as the underdog, and that is how we like to go into the season because we prove ourselves every year," said January. "We play hard every time we step onto the court and that is all we have to do to get to where we want to be in the national championship."

January led the team in assists and steals and was second in both scoring and free throw percentage. As an upperclassman this year, the team will be looking to her both as a playmaker and a role model. "With a veteran team everyone knows what it takes to get to that level so everyone is bringing it every time we step on the court," explained January. "That brings up the underclassmen and shows them what they need to do. It's a great atmosphere. Everyone is positive."

Over the summer the team traveled to Italy for nine days to participate in international competition. The trip not only provided the squad with a chance to further develop their skills, but gave players, such as junior forward Lauren Lacey, who were not able to compete last season, the opportunity to define their roles on the court come game time. Lacey transferred from the University of Minnesota in April 2006 and due to NCAA transfer rules was not eligible to play until the 2007-08 campaign. "That was huge for us because we were able to get on the court and be coached by Charlie in a team atmosphere and now we just know what to expect," recalled Lacey.

Lacey also commented on the team exhilarating cohesion that was evident watching from the sidelines during practice. "We have so much team chemistry right now," said Lacey. "We just had a solid first team practice, and I'm just excited to see where we're going to go this season."

Coach Charli Turner Thorne, with the most accomplished winning record in Sun Devil Women's Basketball history, is going into her 12th season with ASU. She also expressed her excitement about the upcoming season and appreciation for the energetic attitudes of the athletes. "This is a great group of girls," said Turner Thorne. "They have a good balance between staying focused and having fun. That is really important."

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