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Buffs Open With West Coast Swing

Nov 15, 2007

THE GAMES: The University of Colorado will open the 2007-08 season with a West Coast road trip to the University of San Francisco and the University of Southern California this weekend. The Buffaloes will tip off the season against the Dons on Friday, Nov. 16, at 8 p.m. MST at the War Memorial Gym in San Francisco. CU will then face the Trojans on Sunday, Nov. 18, at 2 p.m. MST at the Galen Center in Los Angeles.

BROADCAST: All Colorado women's basketball regular and post season games are broadcast live on KKZN 760 AM, Boulder's Progressive Talk station. Mike Rice, in his second year, will handle play-by-play duties. Live internet audio can be accessed through Yahoo! Sports.

EXHIBITION: Jackie McFarland had 17 points and eight rebounds to lead Colorado to a 58-31 exhibition win over the Colorado School of Mines Nov. 8 at the Coors Events Conference Center.

Colorado opened the game on a 12-0 run, holding Colorado Mines with out a field goal until the 13:41 mark of the first half. The Buffaloes hit eight of their first 14 shots and increased their lead to 23-7 on a Britney Blythe field goal with 8:25 remaining.

Colorado Mines cut the lead to nine at 28-19 with 2:08 left in the half, but the Buffaloes scored the final five points of the half and never let the lead back below 10 points.

Freshman Brittany Spears had 10 points, five rebounds and four steals for the Buffaloes while senior guard Susie Powers had nine points on three 3-point field goals. Blythe finished with six points while fellow point guard Whitney Houston had four points and a team-best four assists.

The Buffaloes defense held Colorado Mines to just 25 percent from the field and forced 24 turnovers. Emily Dalton led the Orediggers with 14 points. Brecca Gaffney and Peanut Eickelman had six rebounds each.

THE BUFFALOES: Colorado returns eight letterwinners and five players that started at least 13 games from its 2006-07 squad that finished 13-17 overall and tied with Texas and Texas Tech for seventh place in the Big 12 Conference at 6-10. The Buffaloes enjoyed their best overall and league showing since 2003-04, which was also CU's last appearance in the NCAA Tournament. CU's six Big 12 wins surpassed the total from the previous two seasons combined (3-13 in 2005-06 and 2-14 in 2004-05).

Senior forward Jackie McFarland returns as one of the top players in the Big 12. A 2007 All-Big 12 first team selection and Associated Press honorable mention All-American, McFarland averaged 17.8 points and 10.8 rebounds for Colorado as a junior while ranking third in the nation and leading the Big 12 in field goal accuracy at 60.5 percent. She is complemented in the post by junior Kara Richards who led the Big 12 in field-goal percentage during conference only games at 60 percent and trailed only McFarland on the overall Big 12 charts, giving CU the top two shooters in the league. Richards averaged 7.0 points and 4.7 rebounds as a sophomore.

The Buffs' front court rotation includes junior Caley Dow, sophomore Aija Putnina and redshirt freshman Courtney Dunn. Putnina saw the most time of the post trio last season averaging just under three points a contest and ranked second on the team in overall rebounds with 113 (4.3 rpg). All three players can play either up top, or with their backs to the basket.

Sophomores Whitney Houston, Bianca Smith and senior Susie Powers return to the CU back court. Houston, primarily a point guard, came on strong at the end of last season, starting the final 11 games and finishing the season third in team scoring (7.9 ppg). Powers, CU's best defensive player a year ago, can play both guard positions and did so in just about every game last year. Smith will put most of her time in at shooting guard and is the Buffaloes top returning 3-point shooter. She had 32 as a first-year player, the most by a CU freshman since 2003-04.

True freshmen Britney Blythe and Chelsea Dale will bring their individual expertise to the floor. Blythe is a true point guard with a good ability to see the floor while Dale is a pure shooter with great range.

The Buffaloes will be looking to replace Jasmina Ilic, their second-leading scorer last season (12.4 ppg), at the small forward/wing position. Junior Hannah Skildum is the lone returner with a wealth of experience at that position and she was one of the first players the bench last season. Skildum averaged 3.1 points last season, but scored in double digits in two of her final three games. Although inexperienced at the Division I level, three up-and-coming players will give the Buffaloes depth at that spot. Odessa College transfer Dina Piterniece, comes in and is eligible right away as a junior. She had 200 3-pointers in her two seasons at Odessa, helping her team to a junior college national championship last season and a runner-up finish in 2005-06. Freshman Brittany Spears, an all-state performer out of Pasadena, Calif., is one of CU's most athletic players and redshirt junior RyAnne Ridge, is eligible to play after sitting out the 2006-07 after transferring from the University of Tulsa.

THE COACH: Kathy McConnell-Miller begins her third season as Colorado's head coach. She is 22-38 in her first two seasons with the Buffaloes and has an overall eight-year head coaching record of 113-126.

ABOUT THE DONS: San Francisco will make its home debut against CU after returning from a season-opening road trip to Colorado where the Dons split a pair of games. USF dropped a 75-51 decision at the University of Northern Colorado on Nov. 11 but rebounded for a 101-96 triple overtime win at Colorado State University on Nov. 13. Senior forward Dominique Carter led the way for USF on the road trip averaging 18 points and 6.5 rebounds over the two games. Sophomore guard/forward Heidi Heintz is averaging 13.5 points and six rebounds per game.

USF is coached by a very familiar face to Colorado fans. Former CU assistant and Colorado Sports Hall of Fame member Tanya Haave is in her second year at USF with a career record of 11-22. Haave spent four years as an assistant under Ceal Barry from 2001-05.

ABOUT THE TROJANS: Southern California will also have its home regular season opener against Colorado. USC began regular season play with a 69-63 overtime loss at UC-Santa Barbara on Nov. 11. Junior guard Brynn Cameron had a team-high 18 points with three assists while sophomore guard Morghan Medlock added 17 points and four rebounds. The Trojans also had an exhibition game against the U.S. National Team on Nov. 13, dropping an 88-64 decision.

SERIES RECORDS: This will be the fifth meeting between CU and San Francisco with the series tied at 2-2. Colorado defeated San Francisco 62-56 in the 2006-07 season opener at the Coors Events Center. This will be CU's first trip to USF since a 66-56 win on Dec. 10, 1995.

Kathy McConnell-Miller is 1-0 against USF, with the game coming last season.

CU has an overall record of 13-3 against current West Coast Conference squads, with two of the losses coming to USF.

This will be the fourth meeting between Colorado and USC, with the Buffaloes holding a 2-1 edge. The Trojans defeated Colorado, 76-57, last season at the Coors Events Center. The Buffaloes lone trip to L.A. to face USC ended in a 69-67 CU win on Dec. 20, 2003.

Kathy McConnell-Miller is 0-1 against USC, with the loss coming in last season's meeting.

Colorado is 35-23 all-time against the Pac-10 Conference, but has lost its last three.

BUFFS IN OPENERS: Colorado is 28-5 (.848) all-time in season openers and will begin the season with a road game for just the ninth time in 34 seasons. CU is 4-4 opening the season on the road and this West Coast swing will mark just the second time in team history that Colorado has opened the season with two straight road games. The Buffaloes began the 1984-85 season -- Ceal Barry's second has head coach -- with losses at Georgia Tech and Florida State. On three other occasions, Colorado has started seasons with two or more games away from home, all in preseason tournaments involving neutral court games, the last coming in 2004-05 when the Buffaloes opened against Loyola Marymount and Nevada in Reno. Colorado is 16-17 (.485) in its first road game of the year and has lost the last four road openers. This will be the second straight year CU opens with San Francisco. Colorado defeated the Dons 62-56 on Nov. 10, 2006, at the Coors Events Center.

FAMILIAR FACES, FAMILIAR PLACES: Colorado has four players and one coach from the state of California and all five hail from either the San Francisco Bay area or the greater L.A. area. Freshman guard Britney Blythe is scheduled to make her collegiate debut about five miles from where she went to high school as she graduated from St. Ignatius Prep in San Francisco. Redshirt freshman Courtney Dunn is from just across the Bay Bridge in Berkeley. Sunday will be a homecoming for freshmen Chelsea Dale and Brittany Spears as well as assistant coach Aisha Veasley. Spears is a former all-state player out of Pasadena and Dale is an all-CIF performer from Palos Verdes Estates. Coach Veasley is a Los Angeles native and knows all about playing against USC as she was a four-year letterwinner for UCLA from 1994-98.

Dunn played AAU basketball with USF sophomore forward Ashley Guerra and USC freshman guard Jacki Gemelos and also played against USF's Shay Rollins and Necolia Simmons as a prep. Blythe played against USF's Donnisha Taylor in both AAU and high school. Spears, a Pasadena High graduate, went up against USC sophomore Morghan Medlock as a prep. Medlock graduated from Narbonne High in Pasadena.

CAPTAINS NAMED: Seniors Jackie McFarland and Susie Powers and junior Caley Dow will serve as team captains for the 2007-08 season. McFarland is a captain for a third straight season, Powers is in her second year as captain and Dow is a captain for the first time. CU team captains are voted on by players prior to the first regular season contest each year.

PITERNIECE OUT 1-2 MORE WEEKS: Junior forward Dina Piterniece will have to wait 1-2 more weeks to make her CU debut as she continues to recover from a broken toe suffered during practice on Oct. 19. The injury is to the third metatarsal on her left foot. Piterniece is expected to make a significant contribution to the CU lineup this season after a two-year career at Odessa where her teams went 66-3, winning the 2007 junior college national championship and a second place finish in 2006.

McFARLAND PRESEASON ALL-BIG 12; BUFFS PICKED 11TH: Senior forward Jackie McFarland has been named to the 2007-08 Preseason All-Big 12 Conference Women's Basketball team by a vote of league coaches.

McFarland is CU's second preseason All-Big 12 honoree as former Buffaloes standout Erin Scholz was named to the 1996-97 squad. She joins Nebraska forward Kelsey Griffin, Oklahoma center Courtney Paris and Texas A&M guards A'Quonesia Franklin and Takia Starks on the five-member preseason team. All five players were first team All-Big 12 picks last winter.

A native of Derby, Kan., McFarland topped the Big 12 and ranked third in the nation in field-goal accuracy in 2006-07 at 61 percent. She was second in the Big 12 in scoring (17.8 ppg) and rebounding (10.8 rpg) and led the league in minutes at 36.4 per game.

McFarland, a 2007 Associated Press honorable mention All-American, is one of just five players in Colorado history with career numbers totaling 1,300 points and 700 rebounds and just one of three players to record back-to-back 500 point seasons. She is already in Colorado's career Top 10 for rebounding (fourth at 770), free throws made (sixth at 383) and blocked shots (sixth at 100) and is on pace to enter the Top 5 in all three categories as well as scoring and field goals made.

She was one of just two players in the Big 12 with 18 or more double-doubles in 2006-07 and missed five additional double-double opportunities by either a single point or rebound. Her 18 double-doubles were equal to or more than 10 of the 12 conference teams. McFarland's 37 career double-doubles are tied with Scholz (1993-97) for second on CU's all-time list.

Her 325 rebounds were a school-record for a junior and the fifth best single-season total in team history. McFarland's 10.8 rebounding average was the school's third best single-season mark while her 17.8 scoring average listed as sixth.

Despite returning eight players from a team that finished tied for seventh last season, the Buffaloes were picked to finish 11th in the Big 12 in 2007-08 in annual preseason coaches poll.

Defending co-champion Texas A&M was picked to win the 2008 title with seven first place votes and 117 points overall, just edging out the league's other co-champion, Oklahoma who had the other five first place votes and 115 points. The Big South held down the top five spots in the poll as Baylor was third with 97 points followed by Texas (86) and Oklahoma State (66). Iowa State was the top North school (64) followed by Nebraska (56), Kansas State and Texas Tech (54 each), Kansas (43), Colorado (29) and Missouri (11).

MORE NUMBERS FOR McFARLAND: Jackie McFarland has 37 career double-doubles and 38 double-digit rebounding games. Her 37 double-doubles have her tied with Erin Scholz (1993-97) for second on CU's all-time list.

McFarland's first rebound of 2007 will give her sole possession of fourth place on CU's all-time rebounding list as she enters the season tied with Sabrina Scott (1999-03) at 770.

McFarland needs 14 free throws made to climb into the Buffs' career top five in that category and 67 points to enter Colorado's career top 10 in scoring.

TOUGH SCHEDULE: Colorado once again faces a tough schedule with no less than 16 games against 2007 NCAA or WNIT tournament teams. The Buffaloes will travel to perennial NCAA women's powers Southern California and Vanderbilt during the non-conference season as well as region rival Colorado State. Colorado will host 2007 WNIT Champion Wyoming and will also see Rice, Clemson and Pepperdine at the Coors Events Center. Texas A&M, Oklahoma State and Texas come to Boulder this year out of the Big 12 South along with the Buffs' usual Big 12 North opponents.

HOME AT THE CECC: Colorado is traditionally tough at home with a 307-92 all-time record at the Coors Events/Conference Center (.769). The Buffaloes have won 10 or more games in a season at the CECC in 19 of the previous 29 years including, 2007-08 when the Buffaloes went 11-5 at home with four of the five losses coming to ranked teams. The Buffaloes have enjoyed five undefeated seasons (1980-83, 1992-94) at the CECC.

BUFFS ON TV: Colorado's schedule features 10 games that will be televised either regionally or nationally, nine of which will be carried by Fox Sports Net. Two games are part of the Big 12's national package with FSN: Sunday, Jan. 13 against Iowa State at home and Saturday, Jan. 26, at Texas Tech. FSN Rocky Mountain will televise six CU home games beginning with Wyoming on Dec. 5. FSN Midwest will televise CU's game at Kansas State on Jan. 19, which could potentially be picked up by FSN Rocky Mountain as well. CU's game at Colorado State on Dec. 1 will be televised by The Mtn. Network.

UP NEXT: Colorado hosts the 21st Annual Coors Classic Friday, Nov. 23, and Saturday, Nov. 24, as the Buffaloes welcome Siena, Clemson and Rice to the 2007 Classic. Rice and Clemson will kickoff the classic at 5 p.m. on Friday followed by CU against Siena at 7:30 p.m. The Classic returns to its traditional tournament format this year with a consolation game scheduled for Saturday at 5 p.m. followed by the championship game at 7:30 p.m.