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ASU women's basketball's rebounding defines success in early season

The Sun Devils are learning how important rebounds are to their performance


ASU sophomore forward Kianna Ibis (42) looks toward the basket to try and make a pass during a women's basketball game against Washington in Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe, Arizona on Sunday, Jan. 15, 2017. ASU lost 65-54, putting them at 13-4 on the season.

Going into the season, the ASU women’s basketball team knew that rebounding would be one of the most important aspects of its season.

However, that is nothing new. 

Rebounding on the offensive and defensive end of the floor is something head coach Charli Turner Thorne always emphasizes with her team.

In fact, it is such an emphasis that sophomore forward Jamie Ruden laughed a little when considering how often rebounding becomes a focus of the team's practices.

The Sun Devils go into every game with a simple goal: out-rebound the other team.

“That is one of the core fundamental identities that our program tries to have,” Ruden said. “Rebounding is so important — whoever controls the boards will control the game.” 

Turner Thorne understands her team is not going to be the biggest on the court, nor will they always be able to out jump their opponent — these are also reasons why she sends all five players to crash the defensive glass.

Not only do the Sun Devils value defensive rebounds, but the team also values offensive rebounds. 

When a shot goes up on the offensive end, three of the players will try to grab the rebound, while the other two will run back to be ready if the team is unable to secure the ball.

Turner Thorne added that a good rebounding outing is not something unique to the Sun Devils. It is what the best teams in the country do night in and night out.

The head coach said those teams work every game to get second shots for themselves and limit other teams to one shot per offensive possession. 

“Offensive rebounds really can add an extra spark to our offense,” Ruden said. “They are easy points and Charli (Turner Thorne) always says our best offense is second shots.”

Yet this season, at least at the start, has been a mixed bag of success for the Sun Devils, who after winning four straight to start their season, dropped two of three at the Cancun Challenge.

Through those first four wins ASU averaged 43.5 rebounds per game.

However the numbers dropped significantly at the Cancun Challenge as the Sun Devils grabbed an average of 28.7 rebounds in three games.

“I think it was due to a higher level of competition, and also fatigue — I think it was both,” Turner Thorne said.

Despite this, Turner Thorne felt that the team should be able to overcome those roadblocks.

Junior forward Kianna Ibis agreed with Turner Thorne, saying that while the fatigue was certainly an issue over their past few games, the team has trained to work around it and still play well.

“Charli (Turner Thorne) coaches us on being able to push through it and being tough about it,” Ibis said. “It definitely affects us but it's a mental thing, and we have to be tougher and go get rebounds.”

Ibis said Turner Thorne takes rebounding so seriously that if the Sun Devils lose the rebounding battle, consequences are issued during practice, mainly in the form of running.

But the Sun Devils were able to avoid extra running in their practice after the Cancun Challenge by winning the last game of the tournament and out rebounding Columbia University 30 to 27.

“She (Turner Thorne) kind of gave us a clean slate for that one,” Ibis said.

Although the team struggled through some adversity at the Cancun Challenge, Turner Thorne was happy that the team now has that experience under its belt.

Turner Thorne said the two teams ASU lost to in Cancun gave them a preview of the level of difficulty they will see when conference plays rolls around.

ASU will be back in Tempe to face Buffalo on Saturday, Dec. 2 at 2:30 p.m. MST. 

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