Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.

ASU women's basketball looking forward to having a healthy roster

The Sun Devils have had a few key injuries but look to have their full rotation ready to make a run in March

ASU freshman guard Reili Richardson (1) (center) celebrates with her teammates after winning the ASU Classic Tournament by beating the no. 19 ranked Florida Gators in Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe, Arizona on Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016. ASU won 69-63, putting them at 5-2 on the season.
ASU freshman guard Reili Richardson (1) (center) celebrates with her teammates after winning the ASU Classic Tournament by beating the no. 19 ranked Florida Gators in Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe, Arizona on Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016. ASU won 69-63, putting them at 5-2 on the season.

It takes a championship-caliber team to overcome health problems, especially when long seasons take a toll on even the best of athletes.

While ASU women's basketball has weathered its own storm of injuries this season and stayed the course, head coach Charli Turner Thorne knows her team still hasn't reached its fullest potential. 

"I don't think it's an excuse, I don't know if I can really quantify (the impact of injuries)," Turner Thorne said. "When you stay healthy, each week is just about getting better, instead of me trying to be a mad scientist in my home office ... trying to figure out how you're going to match up." 

It all started for the Sun Devils on Dec. 4, when freshman Kiara Russell was sidelined with a knee injury following a victory against Florida. The young guard started the first seven games of the season and her team had just begun to hit its stride with a win over the Gators, who were ranked 19th at the time.

Russell spent the following month on the bench but was able to find a silver lining in the experience.  

"It was kind of blessing in disguise," she said. "It's not like I wish it didn't happen to me because now I can take a step away from the game and really slow down the game. I watched a lot of clips of myself and just how I can get better as a teammate and as a player."

During that time off, fellow freshman forward Jamie Ruden was also lost to a foot injury and listed as out for the season.

Luckily for Russell, she was able to contribute well and gradually get back to playing solid minutes since recovering – she chipped in six points in 25 minutes in her team's last game, a loss to Stanford during their recent weekend in the bay area

"I feel good," Russell said. "I've just been taking a couple steps at a time, not too big of a step. I'm just trying to get back to where I started and the girls have been doing a really good job of cheering me on and encouraging me and supporting me."

Russell returned to the hardwood in a win against Utah on the road, but that relief came just one game after ASU lost senior Kelsey Moos, their emotional leader on and off the court, to a foot injury.

Moos had gone out during the Sun Devils' double-overtime win over California and has yet to see playing time since. The senior forward said that while it's still a week-to-week process, she's certainly itching to get back out with her teammates and put a memorable cap on her career. 

"I'm excited to get back out there with my teammates and just be hungry," Moos said. "We have a few months left of our basketball careers here at ASU, so we're just going to do everything we can to be hungry, bring that sense of urgency that we need for the final month or two."

Turner Thorne said it's been painful to watch Moos sit on the sidelines and miss out on valuable playing time in her final season.

"You just look at her face sometimes and it might make you cry," Turner Thorne said. "She's just sad, it's just hard. This is it for her ... every day that she's out, every week that she's out is just crushing."

Despite the flurry of health difficulties, the Sun Devils have still navigated their way to a spot in the first top 16 ranking, released by the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament selection committee and continue to fight for a top-four slot in one of the nation's most competitive leagues.

But Turner Thorne doesn't really put much thought into such accolades.

Her son Quinn was the one to inform her the top 16 seeds had been released Monday afternoon. 

"I don't even look at it, I couldn't tell you what we're ranked, I don't care," Turner Thorne said. "I don't look at that stuff, I don't talk about it, but I know it because my 13-year-old is passionate about it." 

That's simply the state of the Sun Devils at this point in the season – not concerned with what's happening off the court. Instead, they're preparing themselves to do something they have failed to do the last two seasons, especially when they have their full roster back on the floor: make it count in March. 

"The positive for us – we're not going to get Jamie back – but if we get Kelsey back and everybody kind of got stretched and better because of it, then I think we can really hopefully be peaking down the stretch and into March," Turner Thorne said. "I don't think we've done that the last couple of years." 

Reach the reporter at or follow @Jeff_Griffith21 on Twitter.

Like State Press Sports on Facebook and follow @statepresssport on Twitter.

Continue supporting student journalism and donate to The State Press today.

Subscribe to Pressing Matters



This website uses cookies to make your experience better and easier. By using this website you consent to our use of cookies. For more information, please see our Cookie Policy.