Robbi Ryan shines in sophomore year for ASU women's basketball

The sophomore's improved play is earning her praise

Head coach Charli Turner Thorne turned to Robbi Ryan early in the season to inject energy into the ASU women's basketball team, and ever since, the sophomore guard has elevated her play to the next level.

The sophomore guard has averaged 9.5 points with 2.5 assists per game since taking the starting spot in November, turning herself into one of the premier offensive threats on the No. 25 team in the nation.

Ryan has done this by using her athleticism and work ethic to her advantage, both earning praise from Turner Thorne.

“She’s everything," Turner Thorne said. "She’s smart, she’s tough, she’s strong, she’s fast."

The team’s trainer, Rich Wenner, even compared her to Sun Devil legend Pat Tillman last year when she was a freshman.

"That is probably the ultimate compliment," Turner Thorne said. "So physically, she obviously is a tremendous specimen.”

Ryan said she was honored Wenner would make such a comparison but added that she is no where near Tillman’s category.

Fellow sophomore guard Reili Richardson said she sees why Werner would make such a comparison.

“I really see that,” Richardson said. “She’s really hard working and goes all out every practice and every game.”

The "Tillmanesque" work ethic Ryan embodies is not just present on the court and in the weight room. Turner Thorne sees it in everything from film review for basketball to how the Barrett, The Honors College student studies for her classes.

“(She’s) always the first one (to ask), ‘coach did you watch film?' She wants to get better – she is willing to watch herself on film,” Turner Thorne said. “It’s not surprising her how well she’s doing because she’s doing all the things it takes to get better and improve.”

Ryan was a three-sport athlete in high school, playing volleyball and soccer along with basketball. While she excelled at all three and was incredibly athletic, she never spent a full year focusing on one sport, until she came to play basketball at ASU. 

“When she got to college and she was going to focus on this sport ... we knew the sky was the limit for her,” Turner Thorne said. “We see now (Ryan) is a rising superstar. She is amazingly talented, athletic and she is focusing on one sport.” 

Ryan said her success and development wouldn’t have been possible without taking her freshman year to focus on basketball.

“It has a huge impact, having a year like that and gaining so much experience,” Ryan said. “It really helped this year, and I’m a lot more comfortable out there this year.”

She averaged 23.3 minutes in 13 games, which was the second most minutes (behind Richardson) by a freshman last year.

Ryan has felt more confident on the court this season after having a year of college ball under her belt.

“(I’m) less nervous, (I) had sweaty palm syndrome, but it’s gotten a lot better this year,” Ryan said. “(I’m) just more calm and confident, so obviously that helps.”

Ryan looks to continue her sensational season on Friday, Feb. 9 when the Sun Devils travel to USC to take on the Trojans at 8:00 p.m. MST.


Reach the reporter at Joshua.Zaklis@asu.edu and follow @JoshZaklis on Twitter.

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