Game 2: Gophers Visit Arizona State (11-12-21)

Ignatius L Hoops

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January in November

Arizona State (1-0) has chosen the Minnesota (0-1) game to honor former Sun Devil star Briann January (2005-09) by lofting her jersey into the Desert Financial Arena rafters.

"Friday, November 12, 2021, will be a monumental day for our Sun Devil women's basketball program, and we cannot wait to share it with Sun Devil Nation," said Turner-Thorne about the current WNBA’er.

“Sun Devil Nation” will be asked to have a little patience when the current Sun Devils will take the court as a November version of what they hope to become in January.

Last year Sun Devils bore only a vague resemblance to Briann January’s versions. In January’s 2008-09 season, the Sun Devils finished 26-9 overall and 15-3, tied for 2nd, in the PAC 12. Last season’s injury riddled covid team saw ASU drop to 12-12 overall and 6-9 (9th) in the competitive PAC 12.

12-12 was, however, good enough for a WNIT bid. After the Sun Devils dropped their WNIT opener 36-48 to Rice, they defeated Missouri 50-39 in the loser’s bracket before being sent packing by Houston 48-50. The WNIT is not the norm for Charli Turner-Thorne who is 476-280 beginning her 25th season in Tempe. Even worse, it was only the third sub .500 conference record since 2000-01.

The problem was simple. While the ASU defense maintained its usual stingy identity (giving up 56.7 points/game), the Sun Devils offense (54.0 points/game) plodded around the court. Turner Thorne vowed to add some scorers and open up the offense.

The early returns are favorable. In preparation for the Gophers, ASU defeated Northern Colorado 71-41. I watched the first half and it was a typical Sun Devil aggressive man defense along with a ball movement offense. A Turner Thorne summation:

"Jade Loville can put the ball in the basket. I think we're going to be a team with three to four players (scoring) in double digits (each game). I really do," Turner Thorne said. "We didn't really get in a good flow today, but obviously [Ayzhiana Basallo] can really shoot the ball. In terms of our three newcomers, you got a little feel for what they're going to be doing."

To Turner Thorne a good flow this season would feature: “More improv and less standup”. And it would include everyone. Turner-Thorne has always been comfortable using 10-12 player rotations. And right now, the roster is at twelve (6 guards, 2 wings and 4 forwards).

Sidenote: Roster & Injury update: The 13th player on the roster is Meg Newman who is sidelined for the season with an ACL injury. Two players: Isadore Sousa and Jayde Van Hyfte are not expected to return from injury until after the Minnesota game. And Ayzhiana Bosallo is playing restricted minutes (she played 17 minutes and scored 10 points (2-3 from behind the arc) in ASU’s opener against Northern Colorado). Bottom line, the active roster currently has ten players. Everyone played and got at least 14 minutes against Northern Colorado.

Of course, free flowing offenses need offense. So, getting some “O” to the desert was job one during the offseason.

The Transfers:

Guard Ayzhiana Basallo averaged 18.5 points a game in her last season at San Jose State with a 44.5% from behind the arc.

Guard Isadora Sousa, transferred from Chipola College as a NJCCA All-American averaging 13.5 points a game. (Sousa replaced Australian Jade Melbourne who decided to turn pro in the WNBL instead of enrolling at ASU).

Wing, Jade Loville, a Boise State transfer led the Broncos in scoring at 17.1/game. Turner-Thorne considers her a three-level scorer. When the Sun Devils needed scoring, Loville showed out against Northern Colorado dropping all of her 18 points in the second half. She was 4-4 from three.

Forward, Maels Gilles, whom we all recall from Rutgers, averaged 8.1 points/game for the Scarlet Knights. Turner-Thorne has been impressed by Gilles consistency and well how she fits into this season’s scoring offense. Plus, Gilles’ aggressive, almost out of control defense, fits the Sun Devil style. Exhibit 1: Gilles had 8 points, 5 steals, 4 blocks and 6 rebounds against Northern Colorado.

The Returnees.

The oft cited “team leader” is senior guard Taya Hanson. Her best outing last season had to be during a 56-53 win over Cal. Hanson scored 21 points in 37 minutes. She was 7-10 from behind the arc. Yes, that’s a school record for three pointers. Last season, Hanson was the only a legitimate threat from three going 62-180 (.344).

Then there are the sophomores. Guard Jadden Simmons was the team’s second leading scorer and will start alongside Hanson.

The other sophomores have height; but lacked scoring punch last season. Turner-Thorne expects improved play from 6’3” Katelyn Loving, 6’3” Maggie Besselink and 6’4” Imogene Greenslade.

6’1” senior forward Jayde Hyfte is in the rotating forward mix. Hyfte played one game last season before knee surgery put her on the shelf. She was coming off a sophomore season in which she started all 31 games and averaged 5 rebounds per game.

5’5” guard, Gabriela Bosquez is considered by Turner-Thorne as their most improved player.


Despite the optimism in Tempe, the pre-season PAC 12 pollsters, both coaches and media, were un-impressed. The Sun Devils were picked for 8th behind Stanford, Oregon, UCLA, Oregon State, Arizona, Washington and Colorado. And 5’10” senior guard, Taya Hanson, was the only Wildcat named (as an Honorable Mention) to the All-Conference Team.

While Charli Turner-Thorne is confident she has a roster ready to revive the Sun Devil offense, the Gophers will be facing a November beta version. It’s not as easy as facing Briann January’s empty uniform; but it’s certainly easier than facing ASU come January.



LAST MATCH-UP

The 19th ranked Sun Devils rolled into Williams Arena following season opening victories over Army and Air Force. ASU were coming off an NCAA Sweet 16 appearance and their sixth straight trip to the NCAA. Minnesota had dropped its home opener to Missouri State before posting wins over visiting Vermont and Milwaukee.

Whalen’s team was ready. The Gophers pounced on the Wildcats from the tip. Minnesota led 20-9 at the end of one and 34-20 midway through the second quarter. ASU closed the gap to 37-32 at the half; but an 11-2 Gopher run opening the third quarter extended to a 21 point fourth quarter lead and an 80-66 Minnesota win.

Three current Gophers played in that contest. Gadiva Hubbard (20 points in 38 minutes) and Sarah Scalia (5 points in 25 minutes) started. Jasmine Powell contributed 7 points in 15 minutes off the bench. Minnesota’s leading scorer was Destiny Pitts (22 points and 7 assists in 40 minutes).

Two Sun Devils remain from that game. 6’1” forward Jayda Van Hyfte started; but did not score in 25 minutes and 5’10” guard Taya Hanson contributed 14 points in 28 minutes off the bench. Arizona State shrugged off the Gopher loss and went on to finish 10-8 in the PAC 12 (20-11 overall). It was good enough for an NCAA bid if covid hadn’t shut down the tournament.



Minnesota and Arizona State have played twice; both were Gopher victories.



WINS: Northern Colorado



Taya Hanson Last Six Games

TeamPtsRebAsstMinFoul
Arizona1931362
USC1563361
Rice821323
Missouri1231292
Houston933261
N. Colorado820272


Jaddan Simmons Last Six Games:

TeamPtsRebAsstMinFoul
Arizona1522364
USC955312
Rice724263
Missouri1874301
Houston732292
N. Colorado935241


Probable Starters Last Season’s Stats:

HGTPOSYRPLAYERMINAVGREB
5’10”GSrTaya Hanson31.512.64.3
5’9”GSoJadden Simmons30.210.83.2
5’11”G/FSrJade Loville30.717.15.2
6’1”FGMael Gilles32.77.84.3
6’3”FSoMaggie Besselink21.65.12.1


Others (Last season’s stats):

HGTPOSYRPLAYERMINAVGREB
6’1”FSrJayda Van Hyfte15.94.03.0
6’4”CSoImogen Greenslade9.32.01.4
5’7”GSrGabriela Bosquez7.40.81.2
5’5”GSrAyzhiana Basallo
6’3”FSoKatelyn Levings23.94.23.7
 
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Rickman55

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This is a bad team. 10 turnovers already in the first half. 4 by Powell, why is she even playing. Until we get a decent point guard this team is going nowhere.
 



Frink

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Not looking too bad on defense but our offense in the post is atrocious. Right now scaniers looks like she's taking a step backwards.
 

whalenfan

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Really physical game so far, refs are letting them play. Our posts have to be stronger with the ball, Sconiers is just throwing crap up at the rim.
 

Rickman55

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Really physical game so far, refs are letting them play. Our posts have to be stronger with the ball, Sconiers is just throwing crap up at the rim.
Why aren’t Hedman and Cumming getting minutes. What have you got to lose by playing them.
 

Bunyan

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No Caroline Strande in the first half. Surprising because of the game speed and her ability to score the ball. Team is 30% from the Field, with 10 TOs. These coaches are delusional when it comes to talent.
 



whalenfan

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Why aren’t Hedman and Cumming getting minutes. What have you got to lose by playing them.
Have you watched them? I wont be surprised if Micheaux starts getting more playing time since she played some at the end of the half.
 

whalenfan

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No Caroline Strande in the first half. Surprising because of the game speed and her ability to score the ball. Team is 30% from the Field, with 10 TOs. These coaches are delusional when it comes to talent.
You should take it up with the coaches since you have an obvious connection to the Strande.
 


Rickman55

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Have you watched them? I wont be surprised if Micheaux starts getting more playing time since she played some at the end of the half.
No I haven’t. Are they really that bad? Why were they recruited and why are they still on the team?
 



Frink

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You could see that last bucket for ASU coming. Sissoko just gave up the whole baseline to her trying to overplay pass along the sideline. She's obviously a good player but she has moments like that that drive me nuts
 





nestedegg

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Looks like the Gophers are gonna take this one! Great defense tonight!
 


EaganGopher22

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Perhaps a win in OT is better than a win in regulation. At least in terms of a confidence boost. And it is a road win. Better bounce from an unexpected home loss.
 

tripledouble

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Rickman asked why Powell was even playing. We now know. 21 points in the second half. 8 rebounds for the night. I know Helgren only scored 2 points, but she set a lot of good screens. Gophers break ASU's 31-game NC winning streak. Gophers played good D.
 

Ignatius L Hoops

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Rickman asked why Powell was even playing. We now know. 21 points in the second half. 8 rebounds for the night. I know Helgren only scored 2 points, but she set a lot of good screens. Gophers break ASU's 31-game NC winning streak. Gophers played good D.
Powell was terrific in the second half (the stats say she had 9 rebounds). 3-6 from three helped make up for Scalia's shooting woes.
 

whalenfan

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Rickman asked why Powell was even playing. We now know. 21 points in the second half. 8 rebounds for the night. I know Helgren only scored 2 points, but she set a lot of good screens. Gophers break ASU's 31-game NC winning streak. Gophers played good D.
Helgrens defense was big tonight too, she played really well. Would be nice if she had any offense at all but she knows what her strengths are.
 




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