Thomas steps into new role, leads young team

Junior guard Adrianne Thomas scans the floor setting up a play for the Sun Devils against Colorado on Feb. 17. Thomas had to assume a huge leadership role this season after starting senior point guard Deja Mann was injured for the season. (Photo by Dominic Valente)

Junior guard Adrianne Thomas scans the floor setting up a play for the Sun Devils against Colorado on Feb. 17. Thomas had to assume a huge leadership role this season after starting senior point guard Deja Mann was injured for the season. (Photo by Dominic Valente)

Junior point guard Adrianne Thomas didn’t know she was going to have such large role until about a month prior to ASU’s home opener.

In early October, senior guard Deja Mann tore her ACL. Mann was a Pac-12 Honorable Mention in her junior year and was slated to start at point guard for the Sun Devils this season.

 

Thomas had to quickly take over as floor general for the young ASU women’s basketball team that returned only three seniors and was learning on the go.

It isn’t the easiest job, but she does it all with a team for which she cares.

Mann’s season-long loss immediately made an impact.

“I was honestly just completely shocked, because she is one of our veterans,” Thomas said. “Just helping younger players going through the motions. She influenced the team so much.”

Thomas realized that a lot of that responsibility would now fall onto her as she became the starter. She was more than willing.

“I felt pretty good,” Thomas said. “I felt like I was given this great opportunity and I was going to do whatever the team needed me to do at that point just to help us accomplish our goals this season.”

The point guard position gives direction to a team, whether it’s choosing to play fast-paced or slowing the game down. Most of the time, the point guard controls the team more than anybody on the floor.

Coming into this role and running the point wasn’t new to Thomas and the return of ASU’s winningest coach, Charli Turner Thorne, helped as well.

“Ever since I can remember, they just put the ball in my hands and said, ‘You’re going to be the one,’” Thomas said. “I pretty much played (point guard) throughout my whole career. I felt like I was really prepared and Charli really coached me through this whole process.”

In games, Thomas has a large role in affecting how the team functions, doing more than just calling out plays.

“She’s our floor leader,” Turner Thorne said. “She’s really accepted that role this season in being a vocal leader on the floor. Setting our tone on offense and defense.”

The Sun Devils have been at their best when they are balanced. They have been most efficient when they find ways to score from the inside, from the perimeter and in transition.

Thomas is No. 12 in the conference in assists per game. It becomes difficult to decide how to attack during different possessions and that’s the job Thomas takes on every game.

“Just getting us into offense or pushing the ball, she’s the anchor to our offense,” sophomore guard Promise Amukamara said.

The Sun Devils are 11-15 and 3-11 in Pac-12 play. The season has been full of inconsistency, a result of the team’s inexperience.

Thomas leads a team that boasts seven underclassmen. Although it can be frustrating at times, it’s a learning process, and Thomas says everyone takes part in it.

“It can be hard at times since we’re so young, and we’re not used to certain situations yet,” Thomas said. “But as a group, we tend to stick together really well, and we’re open to hearing what anybody has to say.”

The team is experiencing a lot of firsts as it grows. It may be getting mixed up in an offensive set or missing a defensive assignment. However, playing together seems to always prevail.

“I felt like we’ve grown as a team just with our connectivity,” Thomas said. “I feel like we’re so close on and off the court. On the court, we’re able to have team touches and, if we have a bad play, we’re always there for each other to say, ‘You got it.’”

With how young ASU is this year, strong team chemistry is one reason why this team hasn’t crumbled, even with its recent failures.

“If you can’t get along off the court, you probably won’t be able to work together on the court as a team, communicate and trust each other.”

Thomas is probably a big reason for that as well.

 

Reach the reporter at gdemano@asu.edu