(Photo: Scotty Bara/WCSN)
The Sun Devil women’s basketball team opens up its season with against a talented Kentucky team. The No. 17 Wildcats will be a big test for ASU, which comes into this season ranked No. 15 and is returning four starters from last years Sweet 16 team.
“Kentucky in some ways is a lot like us you know they’re going to play really fast,” Arizona State Head Coach Charli Turner Thorne said.
Kentucky and ASU both like to get out and run, so this match up is going to be all about offense. Last season ASU averaged 67.7 points per game while Kentucky averaged 75.6. However ASU allowed opponents just over 55 points while Kentucky gave up 69. ASU likes to spread the floor with the three point shot taking 463 three pointers last season. On the other hand, the Wildcats like to score inside from the post.
Kentucky’s leading scorer from last season Makayla Epps who averaged 14.9 points per game, missed the team’s season opener per the terms of her suspension for an off court incident over the summer. She may also miss this game because she is yet to be cleared after suffering a concussion during practice last week.
ASU’s core of experienced returners includes senior guard Katie Hempen lead the Sun Devils in scoring with 12 points per game. Hempen’s sharpshooting will allow other players such as Sophie Brunner, who was the Sun Devil’s second leading scorer with 11.9 points per game, to get open.
Kentucky is a big team with only three players on their roster under six feet. In order to compensate for having a small lineup ASU is going to have to hustle, and make sure they put themselves in the right positions to get rebounds against this much bigger Kentucky squad.
However, Hempen didn’t seem to be too worried.
“Chemistry is always important to us,” Hempen said. “A lot of games last year we had that connection, that toughness and when you have that you don’t worry when you’re down 10 or 20. It’s like alright we’ll come back. So I think having that in our back pocket makes other teams kind of like ‘it’s that team that never goes away.'”