The ASU women’s basketball team has its hands full when Texas Tech visits Wells Fargo Arena on Sunday.
Coming off a win over the No. 5 team in Division II, Alaska-Anchorage, the Sun Devils will officially open up their season against a talented and experienced Lady Raiders squad.
ASU must keep an eye on senior guards Casey Morris and Monique Smalls. Morris was the Lady Raiders second leading scorer last year, averaging 10.1 per game.
Smalls is everything but small on the defensive end. The 5-foot-6 guard was on the Big 12 All-Defensive Team for the second consecutive season last year.
She is also the team’s floor general, as she was No. 7 in the conference for assists last year, averaging 4.3 per game.
“They’re athletic, they’re big inside, they’re a very good basketball team,” coach Charli Turner Thorne said.
The Lady Raiders have multiple returners at all positions. With the veteran leadership, this team isn’t far from the Texas Tech team that lost to Baylor, the eventual national champions, by margins of only five and eight in the two games played against the Lady Bears.
Senior guards Chynna Brown and Christine Hyde power Texas Tech’s depth has in the backcourt and both are solid offensively.
An impressive defensive performance by the Sun Devils similar to last Sunday’s would do wonders against a team who scored 77 points in its preseason opener.
“They’re a team we’re really going to have to just lock in and figure out how to keep them under 70 points,” Thorne said. “Obviously we have to defend and control the boards, against every team, but especially against Texas Tech.”
Last year, Texas Tech was No. 34 in the nation in rebounding margin, averaging 5.6 more rebounds than its opponents per game.
ASU’s rebounding seems to be one of its strengths this season thus far. Although it was against a shorter Alaska-Anchorage team, ASU out rebounded the Seawolves by a hefty 21 rebounds.
Thorne said that this year’s Sun Devils are much different than they were a season ago.
“Last year’s team walked the ball up the court,” Thorne said. “Last year’s team had different offensive sets.”
Thorne also said they would like to keep getting in transition while also looking to extend their defense and press full-court, as they did last Sunday.
The Sun Devils are young this year, but they are still trying to find their niche.
“We’re young, we have a lot of newness,” Thorne said. “We have to get better everyday.”
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