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October 20, 2016

Charli Turner Thorne

Sophie Brunner

Kelsey Moos

San Francisco, California

CHARLI TURNER THORNE: Thank you guys for being here. I had to do my Coaches' poll early this week or something, and I cannot tell you -- I can tell you in 20 years it's by far been the most difficult to do, so good luck with yours, trying to figure out who truly is going to win this thing and then who the top teams are, because they're all really, really good. You know me, funny aside, my kids are getting older now. But I'm going to share a story with you. It's kind of relevant to our team this year. When my kids were younger, it was kind of a really rough night. My youngest son was getting up, was having nightmares, and was just kind of getting up. My other one had the stomach flu. So basically me and my husband were up. It's just a really long night. So the next morning I'm waiting to get in the shower, and the doorbell rings. So neither of us are like, I'll get it. So I'm like I'm trying to wait, see if he'll get out. He's not getting out. So I'm like, fine. I wrap myself in a towel and go downstairs and open the door. It's our neighbor Bob. And I say hi, Bob, can I help you? Should I just stop right there? And Bob says -- he just kind of looks at me with this sheepish grin, and he said, well, I'll give you $800 if you drop your towel. So my first reaction is to slap him across the face. But anybody that's given child birth, any hint of modesty is gone, so I dropped my towel, took the money and I headed upstairs. So I get upstairs. Who was it? Oh, it was our neighbor Bob. Oh, great. Did he bring the $800 he owes me? Ba-dum. So the moral of the story is, if you're not on the same page, you're going to end up being exposed.

And we have 50% of our team that is new. So if you came to practice today, we'd be a little bit exposed. Thank God for these two. Because we have incredible senior leadership with Kelsey and Sophie, and with Quinn Dornstauder. She hasn't been a four-year starter like these two, we had a fifth-year transfer, Sara Hattis, from Texas. So we had this amazing experienced front line to go with all of our babies in the back court. So I will say, our babies in the back court are really, really good. Incredibly talented. So we just have a great combination of just youth and experience, and it's been fun. So, questions?

Q. Your experience last year in the postseason NCAA Tournament, what did it leave you wanting as far as what you guys wanted to accomplish this year?
SOPHIE BRUNNER: I think it really made us hungry, because we didn't end how we wanted to, and just going into the off-season, we focused on the little things we needed to focus on. And we really put an emphasis on those things. We really progressed since then, and we've come a lot closer. So that brought us closer and more hungrier for this year.

KELSEY MOOS: Yeah, I think that was one of our main motivations going into the off-season. That was our drive. As soon as we ended that game, we were instantly hungry for this year, and we knew we wanted more in this season.

CHARLI TURNER THORNE: I'll add to that. To go 16 with 16 games in the conference that we had last year and get a share of the Pac-12 Championship, that was an amazing accomplishment by our team. It took a lot out of us to do that. To get that No. 2 seed, and both these ladies had surgery the week after the season. Healthy and ready to go now. We had two other core players that had surgery. So, you know, it wasn't -- I just want to say that like, oh, we didn't show up or anything like that. We unfortunately were not healthy. It took an amazing effort and day-in and day-out for that team, undersized a little bit. Probably one guard short on our rotation to do what they did.

Q. Charlie, with these two, and obviously we know the skillset, plus you mentioned Quinn, and I'm glad you did. But a young back court. Can you tell us some of the early work that you're focusing on in terms of how to get that back court to work together and be able to put the ball in the hands of the players that need it when it comes time? What does some of that early work and focus look like for you?
CHARLI TURNER THORNE: So we got a foreign tour this summer. Could not have been more perfectly timed with all of our newness. So you get ten practices in the summer. So we had to go into slow practice almost every day. We got a lot of extra teaching in. They got a lot of extra work. I can say, we went to Costa Rica, that from my vantage point, the most incredible thing from that trip, I mean, beautiful country, beautiful people, I don't know if it was beautiful basketball, but it was amazing, this team, and, again, these two incredible leaders. You know, you spend all day together, we did all sorts of fun stuff. The day's over, and they've got a few hours before they go to bed. Usually you're going to break off, right, different little BFFs or whatever. This group just all stayed together. So I would just say, you know, just their love for each other, the relationships already are so strong.

In terms of on the court, it's coming. It's coming. I think, again, the veterans are helping the young players. But the young players Reili Richardson, Kiki Russell. Those are probably our two leading candidates. One of them as our starting point guard. They have some incredible strengths and we're feeling very confident about them developing. Robbi Ryan really, really dynamic guard. Of course we've got Sabrina Haines returning. I think that core group in and of itself is really coming along.

Q. You talked a little about the babies in the back court and how they're doing well. Overall what really excited you about this big recruiting class you have coming in? And what have you seen on the recruiting trail about the improvement of Pac-12 recruiting across the board over the past couple of years?
CHARLI TURNER THORNE: Well, I think, first of all, just with the Pac-12. The Pac-12 Network, I say this all the time, I'm going to keep saying it. It has been invaluable for our programs in terms of national rankings, exposure, for recruiting. We recruit a lot out of the Pac-12 footprint. We go to the Midwest. And we've got two kids from Minnesota. They've got commitments from kids outside of the Pac-12 footprint. And we can do that now. We've always been good, but nobody knew it. Now we're even better and people know it. So it's really been helpful in terms of recruiting. I guess, just, again about our class right now. I mean, we really feel -- the talent level that we have individually with our team, anything is possible with us this year. We feel we've got that much firepower, and we've just got to bring it together.

Q. Cal announced an extension for Lindsay Gottlieb just this morning. In this conference, there are a lot of coaches who have stayed in one spot. What does that mean to have that longevity when you go out recruiting, as you just mentioned? One other question is whether you talked to your team about National Anthem protests? That's coming up in sports across the board right now.
CHARLI TURNER THORNE: Right. Well, we have not -- I've talked to my athletic director about the National Anthem protests. We will talk with our team a little bit about that.

I think the thing that you see and what he shared with me, and I wasn't really aware of all the backlash, the things that student-athletes need to be aware of; they certainly can express themselves. We don't want to squash that at all at Arizona State. We want to make sure we make them aware of when student-athletes have done this in football season, for example, there's been some pretty serious pushback or consequences so that they really need to think it through and how they want to express themselves.

Other question?

Q. (No microphone)?
CHARLI TURNER THORNE: Yeah, so something that always sticks in my head, President Crow, who is our president at ASU, an unbelievable mind, he early in my years at ASU said -- and he's a researcher, right? He analyzes everything. In terms of coaching, the best programs have coaches for a really long time, and you see that across basketball. You see it across a lot of sports. So it certainly is a recipe, I think, when a coach can continue at a university, usually it means that they've built up a culture and a program that's having continued success. So in this day and age where it's big business, and a lot of times I think administrations might pull the plug because there are a couple down years, it would behoove them maybe to talk to President Crow. Or just, I think, in my mind, it is one little coach's personal opinion, a little bit shortsighted at times, because that consistency within a program, I think, means a lot, you know? And obviously, you have to have the right person for the job.

Q. Coach, you have a history, a great relationship and great history with Pat Summitt. As we continue to -- I won't say growing our women's sport, because we already have continued to grow it from where it has come, how can we this year continue to talk about basketball and carry on Pat Summitt's legacy? What can we do to continue that?
CHARLI TURNER THORNE: Wow. That's a great question. Obviously we've actually been working to try to have a game. We tend to put on some events at ASU. We can talk about our Kick the Beat (phonetic) game, if you want to, but we hosted the first-ever outdoor women's basketball game at Chase Field where the Diamondbacks play in 2000. And Pat Summitt, so visionary, such an unbelievable coach giving back, agreed to play little Arizona State who wasn't on the map yet. And it was an incredible event that put us on the map. It didn't fit her schedule at all. So personally I'm forever indebted to Pat. And we wanted to do an Alzheimer's game. So we're still working on that. Possibly with LSU, because they still have Mickie and Tasha there on staff.

But we've been trying to do something with more than a game or a huge event where we can create some awareness and education. But I think just Pat Summitt was the consummate professional. And I think just continuing, I don't know a lot of people -- she didn't get those fans because they won. She got those fans because she continued to go to the cafeteria and talk to students. She was so incredibly hard working. She was so passionate about what she did. And it was grass roots to women's basketball. They're not going to just show up. They're not. She knew it. And she worked hard at it through her entire career. As a coach, and as a women's basketball coach across the country. We have to keep that in mind and continue to honor. Everyone says what she did for us, well, continue to do what she did so we can continue to grow our game is the best way we can honor her.

Q. Speaking of coaches like Cal's coach getting a contract extension, and you have an influx of coaches like at Colorado now and the coach that upset Stanford last year and Utah performing better than people thought, what are your thoughts on having this influx of young, dynamic coaches in the league, and what it means for role models?
CHARLI TURNER THORNE: I think a lot of all three of those coaches. I think sometimes you can bring a young coach in and maybe they're ready, maybe they're not. I think obviously JR and Lynn were very, very successful Division I coaches, and coming in, it wasn't any surprise to any of us coaches how well Lynn did. And we're very confident she's going to continue to grow that program, and same with JR who did a tremendous job. That's her third Division I job. So she's very accomplished. And Adia, I mean, I think former Pac-10 Player of the Year, has all of the roots and the background, and she is a really impressive young lady. From when I had to coach against her when she was a player at U of A until now, she put together an amazing staff because she's a younger coach. But for me, I'm old. I've been around a long time. So seeing the younger coaches, it's exciting and fun, and a lot of us will be passing on the torch here some day. I'll just say this, just young women who I like saying that too. Because I hear too much, too often these days. I don't have a family. I love doing this. I love seeing talented young women want to take on the challenges that coaching requires.

Q. From a national perspective, is it sort of interesting to not have to be a dominant presence like UConn was the last couple of years where everybody starts the season and says, well, UConn, and let's see what everybody else can do. It seems much more wide open this year?
CHARLI TURNER THORNE: I think it does, don't you guys? I think it's incredibly exciting that there rally isn't maybe a for sure number one in your preseason polls. Or a team that people perceive to be unbeatable. So I know just even in our conference it's great for basketball.

It's great when across the country the media is looking at more teams than just one or two.

Q. Besides the awesome cow drop your coach told us about earlier, what is the biggest life lesson you've taken away from head coach Charlie Turner-Thorne?
KELSEY MOOS: I think the biggest life lesson is to value all the relationships. Arizona State has been an amazing opportunity. The relationships that we have established in the four years, I mean, they're ones that you're going to remember for the rest of your life. So I think that's one of the biggest things Charlie tried to instill in us is just find those people who are positive influences on your life and cherish those memories forever, and just continue to build strong relationships wherever you go.

SOPHIE BRUNNER: I would have to agree with Kelsey on that one, just relationships, and that's the main thing that's going to be lasting throughout your life. A lot of things will change. Jobs, work and stuff like that, that will all change. But the relationships you have now are going to last for a long time as long as you keep up with them. So that's the main one. The second one, I think, is just balancing. So having a good balance in your life between family and basketball and just not getting too caught up in basketball and the things that are attached to it, and sometimes getting a break from that, and just knowing your balance in life.

Q. Sophie, can you just talk about being a returning All-Conference player, and how much the team asked you to do? There is a dossier of things that with your skill set that you're required to do as a senior, and the great player that you are?
SOPHIE BRUNNER: I don't really look at it like that. I just look at it whatever I can do for my team to help them win is what I try to do every day. So if that's rebounding, if that's scoring for that particular game. If that's helping lead the younger players, then I'll do that. I don't really get caught up in scoring and stuff like that. I just do what my team needs me to do, and focus on that.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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