Adrianne Thomas' aggressiveness gives ASU women's basketball more balance
Senior guard Adrianne Thomas has been a force in the backcourt this season for the ASU women's basketball team. It has been a long, injury-filled ride for the guard, but it has paid off nicely with a great start to her senior season and potentially a deep postseason run.
In her first two seasons at ASU, Thomas, who was plagued by injuries, was nearly a non-factor in the Sun Devil offense. Thomas shot 29 percent from the field and just under 55 percent from the free throw line.
In 2012, Thomas took a big step forward, taking on the role of starting guard because of a preseason injury to fellow guard Deja Mann, a redshirt senior. Thomas was up to the task, increasing her assists, rebounds, scoring and free throw percentage.
After her junior season, Thomas went to work to improve her game for her final season as a Sun Devil.
"I was really pushed by the coaches to have a great offseason after my junior year in the spring and the summer," Thomas said. "They wanted me to just keep working hard and build up my fitness level."
The Sun Devils came out hot, and so did Thomas. She scored double digits in her first three games of the season, including an 18-point outburst against Texas Tech.
Since conference play started, Thomas has been the same player she was all season. She averages just over eight points, three rebounds and three assists per game. Her field goal percentage has decreased slightly to 43.8 percent, but the production and aggressiveness that the coaching staff has gotten used to is still a major part of Thomas' game.
Thomas has been more aggressive going to the basket, a fact that has not been lost on any person who has watched her this season. Her aggressiveness has resulted in Thomas attempting 106 free throws through ASU's first 18 games. Her previous season high was her 96 attempts in 30 games in 2012-13.
Thomas has also been shooting more frequently and with more accuracy than any of her other seasons in the desert. Thomas is on pace to set career highs in field goal attempts, made field goals, field goal percentage and steals. She has also set numerous career highs already this year, even though the season is just over halfway through. Thomas' skills have shone through this year and helped propel ASU to 15 wins to this point, two more than the Sun Devils had all last season.
Thomas attributes her improvement and this season's success to believing in herself more.
"The only difference this year is that I have more confidence in myself," Thomas said.
Thomas has struggled with injury issues her entire career, but never let her health get in the way of her minutes. In her four seasons in Tempe, Thomas has missed just one game due to injury, last February against Washington.
In her freshman season, Thomas fractured her foot and a piece of the bone broke off. Others injuries stemmed from that one.
"It was like a snowball effect into tendinitis issues and shin problems," Thomas said. "All of my injuries made me tougher and challenged myself to get better and to not let anything stop me."
Thomas suffered an ankle injury in the Sun Devils' win over No. 20 Syracuse on Dec. 30. She was limited, scoring only seven points in limited action, but hit two free throws with eight seconds left to propel her team to a victory.
Thomas has mostly recovered from that injury with the help of the coaching and training staffs and looks forward to competing the rest of the way with no more hindrances.
The Sun Devils' best lineup comes with Thomas on the floor, and if she can stay healthy and effective for the rest of the season, ASU could be poised for a long postseason run.
Reach the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @Tonis_The_Tiger