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Buffs Host 21st Coors Classic

Nov 21, 2007

THE GAMES: The University of Colorado hosts the 21st Annual Coors Classic on Friday, Nov. 23, and Saturday, Nov. 24, at the Coors Events/Conference Center.

Friday, Nov. 23 (All Times MST)
Rice vs. Clemson, 5 p.m.
Siena at Colorado, 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, Nov. 24
Consolation Game, 5 p.m.
Championship Game, 7:30 p.m.

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 and is joined by Carol Callan of USA Basketball with the color commentary. Live internet audio can be accessed through Yahoo! Sports. BuffsTV, a video subscription service of CU's Official Athletic Website, will carry both of the Buffaloes Coors Classic games live.

THE BUFFALOES: Colorado began the 2007-08 campaign with a rare road trip, winning its season opener at San Francisco, 66-48 on Nov. 16 and falling at USC, 70-57, on Nov. 18. The games marked just the second time in school history that Colorado opened the season with two straight road games, the other coming in 1984-85 -- Ceal Barry's second season as head coach -- with losses at Georgia Tech and Florida State. CU's win over San Francisco moved the Buffaloes to 29-5 all-time in season openers and 5-4 when that initial game is on the road. Colorado has history on its side for its home opener on Friday. The Buffaloes are a sparkling 32-1 in their season home debuts. CU's lone loss in a home opener came against Michigan, 77-63, to kickoff the 1999-2000 season.

Freshman Brittany Spears had an impressive start to her collegiate career averaging 17 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.5 steals on the road trip. She had 15 points, seven rebounds and five steals in the opener against San Francisco. Spears' 15 points, all of which came in the first half, tied for the 10th best total in a Buffs' debut. Four of her five steals also came in the first half, a number that's even more impressive when you consider that CU's individual high for a game last year was four, twice done by Jackie McFarland and once by Kara Richards.

McFarland had a game-high 22 points against San Francisco, with most of her output coming in the second half helping the Buffaloes pull away from the Dons. The All-Big 12 forward was held to seven points and seven rebounds against USC, but she still walked away from the weekend averaging 14.5 points and 7.5 rebounds while shooting 56.5 percent from the field (13-of-23).

Colorado's bench displayed signs of its great potential on the West Coast swing, especially against the Dons. The Buffs' bench outscored the USF 26-6, led by freshman guard Britney Blythe who had 11 points in her collegiate debut which was about five miles from where she starred in high school at St. Ignatius Prep. Sophomore forward Aija Putnina had six points and a team-high nine rebounds against San Francisco and flipped her numbers against USC, registering nine points and six rebounds. Sophomore guard Bianca Smith also had a productive weekend off the bench scoring five points against USF and then recording nine points and a career-high four steals at USC.

Colorado enjoyed a +5.0 rebound margin over the first two games and had four players average four or more during the trip. McFarland and Putnina each averaged 7.5 per game while Spears had an even 7.0 per contest while senior guard Susie Powers corralled six against USC and averaged 4.0 per game. The Buffaloes turned the ball over more than they would have liked at 21 per game, but had a solid weekend of getting the ball back as well. CU forced 38 turnovers in the two games, recording 21 steals. The Buffaloes had 11 steals against San Francisco and 10 against USC, marking the first time since the middle of the 2004-05 season that CU had double-digit steals in back-to-back road contests (10 at Missouri on Jan. 18, 2005 and 10 at Oklahoma State on Jan. 22, 2005).

THE COACH: Kathy McConnell-Miller begins her third season as Colorado's head coach. She is 23-39 in her first two seasons with the Buffaloes and has an overall eight-year head coaching record of 114-127.

ABOUT THE SAINTS: Siena is 1-3 overall, coming off a 57-47 win at Long Island on Nov. 19 for its first win of the season. First team All-Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference forward Laura Menty led the Saints with 21 points and nine rebounds. Menty is averaging a team-best 18.5 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. Much of her damage has come at the free-throw line as the 72 percent foul shooter has already made 26 free throws in four games, nearly half the team total (55). Senior guard Melissa Menzer is second on the team in scoring at 13.5 points per game and has 13 of the Saints' 16 3-point field goals this season (13-of-31, .419). Siena is averaging 59.2 points per game and hitting 40.5 percent from the floor (83-of-205).

ABOUT THE TIGERS: Clemson is 2-3 overall and coming off a 74-56 setback against No. 25 Vanderbilt at home on Nov. 20. Senior D'Lesha Lloyd came off the bench to score 17 points to lead the Tigers. Lloyd is one of six Tigers averaging between 9.0 and 10.5 points per game. True freshman guard Sthefany Thomas has the most total points for Clemson, scoring 51 over the first five games of the season (10.2 ppg) while backcourt mate sophomore Christy Brown is averaging slightly more (10.3 ppg) in one less game. Sophomore forward LeLe Hardy paces Clemson with 7.6 rebounds per game while scoring 9.0 per contest. The Tigers have struggled from the field early on, hitting just 36.5 percent from the floor and only 23.7 percent from 3-point range. Defensively Clemson is averaging 13.2 steals per game.

ABOUT THE OWLS: Rice is off to the best start among Coors Classic teams sitting at 5-1 after a 49-39 win over Arkansas-Little Rock in its home opener on Nov. 20. The Owls' lone loss this season came at UCLA, 79-71, on Nov. 18. Senior Valeriya Berezhynska and junior Maudess Fulton account for over half of the Rice offensive attack. The 6-4 Berezhynska tops the Owls with 20.2 points and 8.6 rebounds per game. Fulton, a 5-10 guard, is averaging 16.2 points per game and has a team-best 10 3-point field goals. The Owls are averaging 66 points per game while holding the opposition to just 57.3 points per game. Rice's defense has held opponents to 37 percent from the floor.

SERIES RECORDS: This will be the second meeting between Colorado and Siena. The only other meeting was a 98-78 Colorado win in the first round of the 2001 NCAA Tournament, played in Nashville. This would be the third meeting between Colorado and Rice, with the Buffaloes winning both games at the Coors Events Center. CU and Rice last met in the 2002-03 opener, a 85-66 Buffs win. The other meeting was a 53-49 CU win in the championship game of the 1997 Coors Classic. Colorado and Clemson would meet for the first time.

Kathy McConnell-Miller has never faced Siena or Clemson as a head coach. McConnell-Miller is 5-8 against Rice, all while she was head coach at Tulsa.

The Buffaloes are 2-0 all-time against Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference teams, once against Siena and a home win over Manhattan during the 2004-05 season. CU is 11-2 against current Conference USA teams and 3-3 against squads from the Atlantic Coast Conference.

CU IN COORS CLASSIC: Colorado is 33-7 all-time in the Coors Classic and has won 12 of the 19 tournament titles contested. No team champion was crowned at the 2006 Classic as the tournament switched to a true "Classic" format where Colorado and Wyoming played Nevada and Charlotte on consecutive nights. The front range teams went a perfect 4-0 in the Classic. CU defeated Nevada 80-60 the first night and handled Charlotte 78-65 on day two. Wyoming defeated Charlotte 77-55 and Nevada 80-71. The 2007 Coors Classic will return to the traditional format with a consolation and championship game scheduled for Saturday.

FAMILIAR FACES, FAMILIAR PLACES: Colorado's Latvia connection of junior Dina Piterniece and sophomore Aija Putnina welcome an old friend and fellow Lativa native Liga Alpe-Luka, a senior guard for Siena. Piterniece and Alpe-Luka played on the same junior national team that claimed a bronze medal at the 2005 U20 European Championships. Putnina and Alpe-Luka played together at the World University Games. Colorado assistant Tom McConnell was an assistant men's coach at Marquette (1986-99) at the same time current Siena head coach Gina Castelli was an assistant women's coach at Marquette. Castelli is in her 18th season as the Siena head coach. Sophomore guard Bianca Smith is from Missouri City, Texas, located about 20 miles from Rice.

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 moved into sole possession of fourth place on CU's all-time rebounding list during the season-opening win over San Francisco. She broke her tie with Sabrina Scott (1999-03) and now has 785 in her career. Also during the San Francisco game, McFarland passed Jeannie Raikes (1976-80) for 12th on CU's all-time scoring list. McFarland now has 1,349 points in 89 career games (15.2 ppg) and is just 38 points away from breaking into the top 10. McFarland needs 12 free throws made to climb into the Buffs' career top five in that category.

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 will continue action at the Coors Events Center with a nonconference game against Northern Colorado on Wednesday, Nov. 28, at 7 p.m.