Brooks: Lappe’s Buffs Getting In Habit Of Sharing
BOULDER – Two games are not enough to tell her everything she wants to know about her Colorado women’s basketball team, but those two wins have let Linda Lappe know this much: The Buffs don’t have any trouble sharing, which is a trait most coaches value as much as anything.
“We’ve played together really well,” Lappe said after Monday’s practice. “Whoever scores, we don’t care. We’re trying to score as a team and we don’t care who gets the credit. That’s a great attribute to have.”
In their two wins, the No. 16 Buffs’ “share-and-care” attitude has been evident in their balanced scoring. Junior Jasmine Sborov has moved into an expanded role at guard, playing the point along with junior Lexy Kresl while senior Brittany Wilson works her back into her regular role. With her recuperation from a leg injury nearly done, Wilson’s minutes are on the rise.
“She’s getting there,” Lappe said. “She’s getting back in practice, learning how to play with the team and the team is learning to play with her. It’s a matter of not forcing things, taking what defense gives . . . she’ll make things happen as long as she waits for those things to come to her. She’s working herself back.”
But the fact that Lappe has had to groom other point guards while “B-Wil” sharpens up hasn’t been a hindrance. “Ultimately it’s going to be a blessing in disguise,” Lappe said. “Now we’re comfortable with three points. Both of them (Kresl, Sborov) will be on the floor a lot together. We’ve got a lot more versatile athletes now, running the point, sharing the ball. We knew we were going to have to be a little bit creative at that position anyway. So, to be honest, it’s helped us work on that.”
Sborov, of Round Rock, Texas, doesn’t pretend to have a command of playing the point, but she is becoming more acclimated. “The more I do it, the more I get comfortable with it,” she said. “It took me a couple of weeks to feel confident doing it. Now it’s something that’s becoming almost second nature. I know if I get the rebound I can go right up the floor. Last year I don’t know if I would have been confident in doing that . . . it’s made me a better basketball player in general.”
She leads the team in scoring (11.5 ppg), but 10 of the players Lappe has used have chipped in five or more points in each game. Kresl, of Paradise Valley, Ariz., has averaged 5 points and 4 assists a game. And as further evidence of their penchant for sharing, the Buffs have averaged just over 18 assists (37 on 48 field goals) in their two outings.
“In terms of passing and decision making,” said Lappe, “I think we’ve done a pretty good job. What we’ve focused on in practice we’ve carried into games. Our assist-turnover ratio (1.2) has been pretty solid and I like the way we’ve hit our free throws (37-of-50, 74.0 percent).”
Sborov passes off the 18 per game assist average to “trusting each other. We’ve talked a lot about building trust on and off the court and I think that’s the product of our loyalty to each other. I know if I give Ashley (Wilson) the ball she’s going to make the layup and vice versa.”
In their collective development of more varied skills, Sborov conceded that the absence of multi-talented Chucky Jeffery also was a factor. “I think so,” she said. “All of our roles have developed; more people are looked at to score more than they have in the past. Everybody understands their role individually and other people’s role. Part of being a good teammate is knowing each other’s roles and your own. If that means making a pass to someone else on the perimeter, then so be it.”
Sborov’s overall game exudes more confidence this season than at any time in her CU career. Her ball-handling skills have developed because she’s been thrust into a point guard role with Kresl, but her improvement in shooting has come from almost daily work with assistant Kelly Rae Finley.
With the goal of getting Sborov more consistent shooting from behind the arc, Finley had Sborov start at short range, move back to mid-range, then end at the three-point line. “There have been very few days that we’ve missed,” Sborov said. “She’s done wonders for me working on form. But a lot of it is just building habits.”
Sborov has attempted only two treys in CU’s two games, but she’s made one of those. Otherwise, she’s made seven of 13 field goal attempts (53.8 percent) and is perfect on eight free throw attempts.
The Buffs’ two wins couldn’t have been more different. They held on to win their opener at Colorado State, with Sborov hitting a pair of free throws in the final 27 seconds to ice a 63-59 win. She finished with a career-high 13 points, and CU led by as many as 13 in the final 10 minutes but had trouble putting away CSU.
The home opener was a different and not quite as suspenseful a story. The Buffs blitzed Alcorn State 83-33 and now await what should be more of a CSU-like test on Wednesday night at the Coors Events Center (8:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network) against unbeaten Iowa.
The Hawkeyes are 4-0, with one of the four a 97-93 overtime win against then-No. 14 Dayton. Taking down ranked teams isn’t uncommon for the Hawkeyes; they did it seven times last season.
“Iowa is going to be solid,” Lappe said. “They’re not going to beat themselves. They’re smart, they move well, cut really well, shoot the three. They’ve got multidimensional players; any of them can score on the floor.”
Getting an early season home test from a team like Iowa, added Sborov, “will be a good challenge for us. It’s a great test to see where we’re at right now. I keep forgetting how early it is in the season – we’ve only played two games. We’re really excited to play Iowa. They’ll give us different looks from what CSU and Alcorn State gave us. It’s going to be fun.”