Devils Rest Up as Rivalry Game Approaches

When two rivals meet on the court, you can pretty much throw the team's records out the window. A prime example will be at Wells Fargo Arena on Friday night, as the Arizona State Sun Devils host the Arizona Wildcats. The Wildcats have been injured and have struggled to just a 3-8 record in the Pac 10. But a matchup with the Lady Devils always brings out the best in the Wildcats.

"This is such a huge game, regardless of records. We are just focusing on preparing for all their strengths and their personnel and continuing to get better for ourselves. We were very happy with Thursday's game and very disappointed with Saturday's game," said Head Coach Charli Turner Thorne, "We are not going to beat ourselves up, I thought we made some great strides going into that week, but we just didn't sustain them. We're just trying to come back and get back to that Thursday night team."

"They won three of their last four. I think they have gotten healthier; they got (Iffy) Ibekwe back. When we played them last time, which was her first game back. So now she is a bit more in her form. They are obviously playing well."

The Wildcats swept the Oregon schools over the past weekend. The Devils followed suit, dominating the Oregon State Beavers Thursday, but struggled with Oregon on Saturday.

"We missed open jumpers; I thought it impacted our defense. You miss at point blank range and it isn't fun. I just felt like the whole team let it affect them," said Turner Thorne, "We are going to work on that this week. We have to have tougher responses. Everyone has played this game long enough; sometimes the ball doesn't go in the basket. If you have a botched possession, we just have to be tough and get back and play."

Arizona has won three of their last four, after dropping eight in a row.

"This is the stretch you need to start peaking, and play your best basketball. You might as well play everybody at full strength and get their best game; because that is the only way we are going to progress to where we want to go anyways," said Turner Thorne.

The Devils have had a history of playing their best basketball late in the season. Over the past three years, Turner Thorne's teams are 19-1 in the Pac 10's second half.

"We as coaches to try to keep our teams fresh and hungry, I think this group has to potential to really finish strong. We have a couple of really experienced and veteran teams the last few years to build that record and this year's team probably isn't quite as much. We pride ourselves off of that. We prepare for this. It's get tough time. Time will tell. I'm not going to make predictions or anything. That's the game plan, to finish strong."

Turner Thorne was asked if winning close games while not playing well was a sign of a good team.

"I think that that is true. I think that we have a little too much of that. As much as we can critique that whole game, we got looks, and just didn't finish. Sometimes that happens, but we missed, I counted them, eleven one to two footers."

"Eleven shots in the paint that were right there, and they got the ball back right after that. There is 22 points right there. I always tell them, you don't have to make all of those, you can miss a few, but we missed an inordinate amount."

The Devils will benefit from a little time off, as they don't have to play until Friday. A team that looked tired and fatigued Saturday will definitely benefit from the time off.

"Absolutely could not have asked for a better schedule during this stretch. We had a good break, we gave them two days. We were able to come back and condition yesterday," said Turner Thorne, "We get extra practice this week and we get it again on the back end since we play Friday night. Then we get another day to practice for Cal and Stanford. I don't know if I could have scripted it better. We're trying to take advantage of it. Hopefully it will show."

The Devils will need it to show if they hope to compete for a Pac 10 Championship. They enter Friday's game just one game out of first place.

"I think our team is starting to get a sense of urgency that this is the last month of the season and we obviously need to be playing our best basketball if we want to be in position for a Pac-10 Championship," said Turner Thorne.

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