#44 Arizona State Women's Basketball 2012-13 Preview

Arizona State Sun Devils

Overall rank: #44
Conference rank: #3 Pac-12
Arizona State Women's College Basketball 2012-2013 Team Preview
Arizona State Team Page


Although no one on the Arizona State women’s basketball team averaged double figures in scoring last year, the Sun Devils still had enough strength in them to reach 20 victories and a first-round appearance in the Women’s NIT. The departure of three seniors from the ASU roster, combined with an influx of freshmen talent, should solidify Arizona State’s presence in the Pac-12, but it remains to be seen whether the Sun Devils can break through the glass ceiling and make an appearance in the NCAA tourney.

2011-12 record: 20-12, 10-8
2011-12 postseason: Women’s NIT
Coach: Charli Turner Thorne
Coach Record: 289-179 at Arizona State, 329-219 overall

This team looks a lot different from top to bottom, but one of the biggest strengths it has is the return of two players that will eat up a ton of minutes on the floor. Deja Mann and Micaela Pickens chewed up over 1,700 minutes of clock time combined a year ago, and Mann was one of two players to start all 32 of Arizona State’s games a year ago. Mann’s presence will help solidify the team’s free-throw shooting, which stood at 67.1 percent last year. Mann was 56-for-69 (81.2 percent) from the stripe, and Promise Amukamara was a close second at 39-for-49 (79.6 percent). With 110 assists last year, Mann also was the team’s top playmaker, and that means the offense likely will go through her hands a lot of times as the Sun Devils start their march toward a hoped-for tournament bid. Pickens and Amukamara are also experts at grand theft basketball, as evidenced by their combined 92 steals out of a team total of 336.

The roster overhaul and exit of several key players has left gaping holes on the offense. Kimberly Brandon and Kali Bennett, who combined for 18.1 points per game last year, are both graduates and ineligible to return, meaning Mann’s 7.6 scoring average will have to carry the team. Pickens and Janae Fulcher are back to provide scoring depth, but the three average a combined 19 points per game. Unless some younger players step into scoring roles, that could mean major problems on the horizon for the Sun Devils. Brandon and Bennett were also the team’s leading rebounders (6.6 and 6.5, respectively), and both players were quite effective at grabbing balls off the offensive glass. Bennett provided 91 of the team’s 187 blocks, almost half, and that will be a challenge to replace all that swatting.

Final Projection:
Unless one of the newcomers steps in and fills a big role on offense, it could be a long season in Tempe. The return of Thorne, who missed all of last season due to a voluntary leave of absence to recharge her batteries, should provide a little spark to this squad. Otherwise, the same problems that dogged previous ASU squads are here. There is some scoring, but not enough of it. There is some rebounding, but not enough of it. About the only area where a veteran player provides spark is assists, but teamwork doesn’t always translate to points.  A large freshman class could produce some surprises, but until these players set foot on the floor in a real game we won’t know enough about them to pass judgment.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA

Projected Starting Five:
Promise Amukamara, Sophomore, Guard, 43.9 percent field-goal shooting, 34 steals
Deja Mann, Senior, Guard, 7.6 points per game, 110 assists
Janae Fulcher, Senior, Forward, 6.2 points, 3.3 rebounds per game
Micaela Pickens, Senior, Guard, 5.9 points, 58 steals
Jada Blackwell, Sophomore, Forward 5.5 points, 3.6 rebounds