ASU women’s basketball coach Charli Turner Thorne takes pride in scheduling tough nonconference opponents to prepare her team for the grind of the Pac-10 and the NCAA Tournament.
This season is no different.
The No. 16 Sun Devils will open up their 2009-2010 season Sunday afternoon when they face South Dakota State at Wells Fargo Arena.
SDSU was one of the nation’s biggest surprises last season, as it went 32-3 and broke into the national rankings at the Division I level for the first time in school history. The Jackrabbits also advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, where they nearly upset No. 2-seed Baylor.
“It’s going to be a great challenge for us, probably one of the toughest home games we’ve ever opened with,” Turner Thorne said. “But we’re going to be ready. We’ve had time to prepare, and this is our home court.”
The Jackrabbits, who were picked to win the Summit League in the preseason poll, return four starters, including a 2008-2009 second-team all-conference selection in senior forward Ketty Cornemann and the reigning Summit League Sixth Woman of the Year in sophomore guard Jill Young.
“They really do a great job of executing their half-court offense,” Turner Thorne said. “They definitely are a veteran team that plays very well together, and they’re just an aggressive team that plays hard, and so are we. We’re an aggressive team that’s going to play hard, so it’s going to be a really fun matchup.”
ASU will counter with a group that has plenty of potential but lacks in the experience department, as only six Sun Devils on the current active roster took the floor last season.
The Sun Devils will likely be paced by their two returning senior starters in guard Danielle Orsillo and forward Kayli Murphy, while the new faces, including three true freshmen, continue to get comfortable on both ends of the floor. Orsillo is the team’s returning leading scorer (9.3 points per game), while Murphy averaged five points and 4.2 rebounds per game last season.
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