The second season begins today for the Arizona State women’s basketball team, and it hasn’t been that long since the Sun Devils saw their foe in the quarterfinals of the Pac-10 tournament: Washington.
“Both teams are in the same boat,” ASU coach Charli Turner Thorne said. “I don’t think it’s ever a disadvantage when you beat a team solidly — as long as we don’t take that for granted and think because we beat them, that it is going to be the same type of game.”
The Sun Devils did beat Washington solidly, 69-53, on Feb. 24.
But ASU (20-9) spouts off all the clichés about it being a new season and being a different situation than the regular season.
The biggest difference in Washington (13-17) may be the “M” word.
“Some huge momentum for them,” Turner Thorne said of the Huskies’ upset of 10th-ranked California on Sunday in their regular-season finale.
That is something ASU will have to deal with at noon at HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif.
“They’re going to be a whole new team,” ASU guard Jill Noe. “They are going to go in with a whole bunch of confidence. We’ve just got to stay the course and play our game.”
That game has improved significantly over this topsy-turvy season. ASU set out to be an up-tempo team but was sidetracked by injuries and a learning curve for its two inside transfers — Lauren Lacey and Sybil Dosty.
Both have shown just how much they have adapted to the system the past two weeks in wins over the Washington and Los Angeles schools with impressive rebounding and ball care.
“In our past few games we have been making strides and peaking,” said newly named Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year, Briann January. “It’s good and we are having fun doing it. We are getting to where we wanted to be awhile ago.”
And although ASU would love another shot at Stanford or California — after going 0-4 against them this season — don’t think this coaching staff will allow anyone to think past today.
“They just beat Cal, so that’s the best thing about it,” Turner Thorne said, dismissing any chance of overlooking the Huskies. “If they had lost to Cal, then maybe.”
Turner Thorne knows ASU’s mind-set entering the Pac-10 tournament can’t simply be about improving its NCAA tournament seeding.
“We’re going into it to win it, as daunting as that task might seem looking at the top teams in our conference,” she said.