Women’s basketball prepares for Stanford

Talking strategy: ASU coach Charli Turner Thorne talks to junior forward Kimberly Brandon and sophomore guard Deja Mann during their Jan. 22 victory over Washington. (Photo by Aaron Lavinsky)

There’s plenty going on for the ASU women’s basketball team ahead of the games this weekend.

Redshirt senior guard Dymond Simon is currently out with concussion symptoms and may not play. The Sun Devils (13-6, 5-4 Pac-10) are trying to make sure the defense, which was so strong against USC and during the second half against UCLA, is here to stay.

On Thursday night, No. 4 Stanford is coming to town.

The Cardinal (18-2, 9-0) lost back-to-back games in December, one away to DePaul and another at Tennessee. Since then, Stanford has been unstoppable.

“They just keep getting better and better,” ASU coach Charli Turner Thorne said.

Stanford stopped Connecticut’s incredible 90-game winning streak and have been perfect in conference play, winning games by an average of 35.7 points.

When ASU played the Cardinal in Palo Alto, Calif., on Jan. 8, they came away with a 47-point loss.

But win or lose, senior forward Becca Tobin said the Sun Devils would play better basketball than they did during the earlier matchup.

“I think after last game we learned we needed to focus on our scouting reports more, watch more film, and everyone’s getting in to get their shots up,” Tobin said. “Everyone knows what shots they’re going to be taking now, so everyone’s pretty prepared.”

If the Sun Devils are to have a chance at an upset, there are a few areas where they have to be stellar.

The ASU bench, which has been a huge factor so far this year, will have to be ready to play, Turner Thorne said.

“Our second wave, that top 10, has to be ready to go,” Turner Thorne said. “We’re not a team right now that has a group of five that can match their group of five for 30 minutes. We’re going to have to do it in shifts.”

The defense will also have to be more stubborn than usual, and to do that, the whole team will have to be focused, freshman guard Adrianne Thomas said.

“We definitely have to work harder, we have to play honest defense and just stay true to what we know and how we know how to do it,” Thomas said.

Most importantly, ASU has to make every possession count, Turner Thorne said.

During the last game against the Cardinal, the Sun Devils missed their first 10 shot attempts, putting them in an early hole from which they never recovered.

Stanford is led in scoring by senior guard Jeanette Pohlen and junior forward Nnemkadi Ogwumike. Also averaging in the double digits is senior Kayla Pedersen, an Arizona native and graduate from Mesa’s Red Mountain High School.

If Simon is not cleared to play before Thursday’s game, Thomas and sophomore Deja Mann are ready to step up and fill in at point guard. Both players have game experience at the position and take that role regularly during practice.

“Obviously the whole team is going to need to step up if Dymond [Simon] doesn’t play, but I think they can do a good job,” Turner Thorne said.

The only major concern if Simon can’t play would be a lack of depth around the perimeter, but even there the Sun Devils should be okay, Turner Thorne said.

On Saturday ASU will take on Cal, a team that struggled in the early part of conference play but has since picked it up and won three of their last four games.

Reach the reporter at egrasser@asu.edu