ASU women's basketball knows rebounding is the key to success

Sun Devil players are working to be tenacious when rebounding this year

In basketball there is a perception that the taller teams are more successful.

Whether this perception is true, it has been a topic hotly debated recently with skeptics pointing to today’s Golden State Warriors, who have had success playing with a shorter lineup, to support their claim. 

Now, the ASU women’s basketball team will be thrust onto the side of the skeptics. ASU will be hitting the court for the 2017-18 season with only two players taller than 6 feet and 1 inch.

To many teams this would be cause for concern, but not for the Sun Devils, who only had three players above 6 feet and 1 inch on last year’s team.

“Our team has always been kind of undersized compared to high level Pac-12 teams and other teams,” junior guard Sabrina Haines said. “Even though we may seem undersized, we’re going to definitely make up for it.”

The Sun Devils have been focusing on rebounding this pre-season and doing drills to improve their ability to box out.

“I think the best teams are the teams that control the boards,” head coach Charli Turner Thorne said. “We were OK last year, so it’s a huge area of emphasis.”

Turner Thorne believes that her team's ability box out other players is not dependent on size. 

The team seems to be getting the message and implementing this mindset in practice, according to junior center Charnea Johnson-Chapman.

“(Kiara Russell) comes (and) she boxes me out,” Johnson-Chapman said.  “She just gets so low that I can’t move my legs.”

This extra effort from guards shown up in practice as well as in pre-season games. Turner Thorne said the guards stepped up on the glass in the team’s closed scrimmage against TCU on Oct. 28.

“They actually did a great job rebounding in the closed scrimmage,” Turner Thorne said. “They were our leading rebounders and we’ve really been on them and the team — rebounding is huge.”

Haines said that stepping onto the court with taller teams is something that the players expect to adjust to.

“It’s a quick shock but then you adjust to it,” Haines said. “We are all high-level basketball players, so we know what we need to do.”

The Sun Devils also understand the importance of grabbing offensive rebounds, which will force their opposition to defend for up to another 30 seconds.

“If we don’t make the first shot, that second rebound is what kills the other team,” Haines said. “It’s what drains their morale – when you’re able to get that rebound and put it back in.”

Draining other teams physically and emotionally throughout the game will depend on whether the Sun Devils can be more aggressive with the ball on offense this year.

Turner Thorne said that throughout the season last year, she noticed some of her players being passive with the ball. This willingness to pass instead of shoot is something that will not fly in the Pac-12 this year.

“At times, we were not aggressive enough offensively,” Turner Thorne said. “We had players not catching to shoot and score, so we’re working on not allowing that to happen this year.”

Ideally, Turner Thorne would like to see the Sun Devils be aggressive on both ends of the floor, acknowledging that good defense is an emphasis in all top programs around the country. 

“We really take a lot of enjoyment (and) joy out of making people uncomfortable,” Turner Thorne said. “This team, I like where they’re going. They’re really embracing that. I think it’s going to be fun to watch.”

Reach the reporter at and follow @JoshZaklis on Twitter.

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