Lady Devils Anxious to Start Season

With the high expectations surrounding the men's basketball team at Arizona State, Charli Turner Thorne's Lady Devils often get lost in conversation. That doesn't bother her and the team, just like being picked for third in the Pac-10. All they want to do is prove it on the court and they are certainly ready to roll.

"On a scale to one to 10, we are 10 in excitement," said Head Coach Charli Turner Thorne, who will be entering her 13th year in Tempe, "I think we are as prepared as we can be. They have worked really hard. I think we are game ready. Are we as fundamentally sharp as we want to be? No. We have got them ready for whatever situation they will face."

Her players agree and you can certainly sense the excitement in the voices of the Lady Devils.

"We are excited and wanting to go," said senior Briann January, "Once this game starts, we are in routine. The time for focusing on us is limited and we have to focus on other people. We are excited to beat up on someone else."

The Devils had a successful season last year, including an NCAA Tournament victory over Temple, before falling to Duke in the second round. According to senior forward Lauren Lacey, that loss left a bitter taste in their mouths and only motivated ASU to work harder.

"The gym was buzzing today," said Lacey, "Everyone is excited because we have worked so hard. I'm just excited to see our hard work show."

"Charli's expectations never change, she expects the same from every team she has," said Lacey, "She may focus on a certain aspect like rebounding or defense, but every year no matter what her talent level is to out rebound every team and play team offense.

With the program Charli Turner Thorne has built comes expectations. However, she doesn't like the word expectations, she has goals.

"We don't have expectations. Expectation is a negative word and implies pressure, which we don't talk about. We have goals and we are keeping those simple this year."

"Win the Pac 10 championship, that is the one outcome goal that we set for ourselves. The rest is short term."

In order to achieve that goal, ASU will have to knock down either Cal or Stanford. ASU's only conference losses last season were at the hands of the Golden Bears or the Cardinal. ASU was picked to finished third behind Stanford and Cal respectively.

"Our team is the only people in the country that thinks we can win the Pac-10," said Lacey, "That is fine, we like being the underdog and we think we can go take it from the top two dogs."

Turner Thorne agrees with her senior, she likes to be the underdog.

"I think we are positioned really nicely, put the pressure on them. We want to be where they are at the end of the season, bottom line. We have some respect right now."

The only two main losses from last year's team come from the guard positions. The Devils lose two staples in their programs in Jill Noe and Reagan Pariseau. But Dymond Simon is finally healthy and the Devils also get back Danielle Orsillo, who missed the whole season last year, except the first game where she scored 21 points in the opener against North Carolina.

"We are going to put some shots up," said January as to ASU's guard play this season, "We have Dymond back and have Danielle back looking great. We are out to get it, we are an aggressive group that we all have worked together to get better, it has made our whole group elevate. I'd like to see somebody match us."

Dymond Simon agreed with January.

"The guards are well prepared; we added a lot more speed. We are smarter and savvier this year. We have to play defense, distribute and distribute the ball."

Simon was never really healthy last season, but now she feels like her old self.

"I am feeling great, still doing rehab to keep it strong, but I'm not worrying about it. It is a new year and new beginning for me."

"I would honestly say I am much more prepared than my previous years. My coaches and teammates have told me that this is my team, you are the point guard, and you run the show. They both have high expectations and confidence in me."

Ultimately the guards are led by January, who became the first ever player to win the Pac 10 Defensive Player of the Year. January has improved every year since arriving in Tempe and has become the face of the program and it was shown by her representation of the program on the cover of Sports Illustrated, along with men's All American James Harden.

"She deserves it. She has been a phenomenal contributor to this program, in the community, as a role model and a student athlete," said Turner Thorne, "When I recruited her, she was not ranked in the top 100 players in the country. From day one she has been special."

"Every year she has improved a lot. That is how you measure kids, not being on the cover of Sports Illustrated, she has not taken one rep, not one possession off in her entire career at ASU."

January didn't tell anybody that she was going to be on Sports Illustrated that is how humble she really is.

"I honestly told nobody about it and I got a bunch of texts. I even held out on telling my parents," said January, "It is cool but it speaks volumes of our programs to have both teams in the Top 25. I'm more than willing to represent our program because I'm so proud of it."

That is evidenced by January's answer to what her personal goals were for this season.

"My goal is the same as every year. To do what my team needs. Whether to lock down a person or score, I'm here for the team."

Last year ASU's post play was young and inexperienced. But now with one year under their belts, the post play is experienced, deep and getting better each day. Sybil Dosty and Lauren Lacey are now in their third year in the program after transferring in and give ASU a dynamic duo up front.

Adding depth to the post includes senior Kirsten Thompson, junior Kayli Murphy and sophomore Becca Tobin. Freshmen Janae Fulcher and Kimberly Brandon will also both see time.

"We are going to take advantage of our inside game with Sybil and Lauren a lot," said Simon.

"I'm excited for our inside game, we are missing Kayli and she is a huge part," said Lacey, "We are getting help from our freshman and our seniors; I'm excited for our post game."

"I am more comfortable after actually getting to play as a Sun Devil last season. I worked real hard in the offseason so I am ready to get going."

Post defense is something that Turner Throne stressed a lot during the offseason.

"We have been working hard with our posts defensively. Work harder, take more things away and we have. We will continue to work."

The Devils open up on Friday night in the opener of the WNIT against Cleveland State. The Vikings surprised many by making it to the NCAA Tournament last season, after upsetting traditional Horizon power UW-Green Bay in the conference tournament.

If ASU can get past Cleveland State; they will host the winner of Tulane and Illinois St. on Sunday. If they can win that game, a rematch with Oklahoma and possibly North Carolina could be on the horizon. Both teams are in the preseason top 10.

"It is funny, I don't think my team knew how the tournament worked," said Turner Thorne, "We kind of make them focus one day at a time. It is very motivating to earn that opportunity to play those two teams; we played them last year and came up short. What a great opportunity. We schedule like that every year, they are used to it."

"It is huge," said Lacey referring to the WNIT, "It is exciting to start the season with all of these great teams. Even Cleveland State they made the tournament, not an easy game to say the least."

January is eager to play against some of the best teams in the country and she feels the Devils can fit right in with those teams.

"It is an awesome opportunity. We have a chance to play some of the best team's in the nation. We are real excited about it."

With such a senior based team, January knows that ASU's time is now. She knows that the senior class wants to make their last year in Tempe a memorable one.

"Every year we are out to do our best. I'm personally excited about our team. We are very upperclassmen dominated and we have a lot of experience. With that comes motivation because the end of your career is nearing and the freshmen are buying into that too."

PROBABLE STARTERS

F- #34 Lauren Lacey 6-3 Sr.

C- #33 Sybil Dosty 6-2 Sr.

G- #13 Danielle Orsillo 5-9 Jr.

G- #20 Briann January 5-8 Sr.

G- #1 Dymond Simon 5-5 Jr.

KEY RESERVES

#21 Kayli Murphy 6-2 Jr.

#23 Kristen Thompson 6-6 Sr.

#32 Becca Tobin 6-4 So.

#11 Kate Engelbrecht 5-10 Sr.


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