Buffs Open Big 12s With Cyclones
THE GAME: The University of Colorado is the No. 9 seed in the 2008 Big 12 Championship tournament and will face No. 8 Iowa State University in a first round game on Tuesday, March 11, at 11 a.m. MST, at the Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Mo.
BROADCAST: All Colorado women's basketball postseason games will be broadcast on KKZN AM 760. Mike Rice, in his second season, will have the play-by-play with Carol Callan of USA Basketball providing the color commentary. Live internet audio can be accessed through Yahoo! Sports. Tuesday's first round games will be televised by Metro cable outlets in the Kansas City area while the quarterfinals through the championship game will be carried live nationally on Fox Sports Net.
OPENING TIPS: Some facts about Colorado and the Big 12 Championship:
- Colorado is 8-10 in Big 12 tournament games.
- Colorado won the inaugural Big 12 Tournament in 1997 as the No. 3 seed defeating No. 5 Kansas State, 55-54, in the championship game.
- Colorado has five conference tournament titles in its history, four of which came in the old Big Eight Conference.
- This is the seventh time in the 12-year history of the Big 12 Championship that Colorado is seeded lower than No. 5.
- Colorado has been the No. 9 seed once before, in 1999 when the Buffs lost their first round game to No. 8 Kansas State 55-51.
- Colorado is 3-3 in Big 12 Championship first round games (seeded fifth or lower).
- The No. 9 seed is 7-11 all-time in the Big 12 Championship and 7-4 against the No. 8 seed. Last season Colorado, as the No. 8 seed, broke a four-game win streak by the No. 9 seed in the 8-9 game with a 71-67 win over Texas Tech. Neither the No. 8 or 9 seed has gone on to upset the No. 1 seed in the quarterfinals (0-11).
COLORADO BIG 12 CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY (8-10):
1997 No. 3 Seed
Quarterfinals: Colorado 56, Iowa State 39
Semifinals: Colorado 64, Texas 50
Championship: Colorado 54, Kansas State 44
1998 No. 8 Seed
First Round: Colorado 71, Oklahoma 66
Second Round: Texas Tech 81, Colorado 51
1999 No. 9 Seed
First Round: Kansas State 55, Colorado 51
2000 No. 10 Seed
First Round: Colorado 83, Missouri 68
Quarterfinals: Texas Tech 76, Colorado 60
2001 No. 4 Seed
Quarterfinals: Colorado 83, Missouri 72
Semifinals: Oklahoma 102, Colorado 93
2002 No. 3 Seed
Quarterfinals: Iowa State 58, Colorado 56
2003 No. 4 Seed
Quarterfinals: Colorado 73, Oklahoma 68
Semifinals: Texas 62, Colorado 47
2004 No. 3 Seed
Quarterfinals: Oklahoma 63, Colorado 56
2005 No. 12 Seed
First Round: Iowa State 64, Colorado 62
2006 No. 11 Seed
First Round: Nebraska 67, Colorado 59
2007 No. 8 Seed
First Round: Colorado 71, Texas Tech 67
Quarterfinals: Texas A&M 62, Colorado 45
THE BUFFALOES: Colorado is 16-13 overall and finished ninth in final regular season Big 12 standings at 5-11. The Buffaloes fell one game short of equalling their 2007 Big 12 record, but have clinched their first winning season since the 2003-04 team went 22-8 and advanced to the program's last NCAA Tournament. Colorado clinched a winning overall mark by defeating Missouri 63-47 in the regular season finale on Mar. 5. The road traveled by the Buffaloes has been an up and down one this year. Colorado owns an 11-game win streak and a six-game losing streak this season, marking the first time in school history the Buffaloes have endured streaks of six games in both directions during the same season.
Senior All-America candidate Jackie McFarland leads the Buffaloes at 17.8 points and 8.1 rebounds per game while shooting 57 percent from the field (172-of-304). Her numbers have remained solid during league play averaging 18.2 points and 8.1 rebounds while shooting 55 percent (95-of-172). She is second on the team in assists (2.6 apg) and third in free-throw percentage (.775) and blocks (1.1 bpg). She is the first player in school history to score 500 points in three different seasons and joins Lisa Van Goor as the only Buffs to record 1,800 points and 1,000 rebounds. McFarland is just 22 points shy of reaching Tera Bjorklund (2000-04) for second place on CU's all-time scoring list. She reached the 1,000 rebound plateau against Missouri, becoming the third CU player to reach that mark. The All-Big 12 forward once again can be found among the leaders in most league statistical categories ranking second in field-goal percentage and minutes, third in scoring, fourth in free-throw percentage, fifth in rebounding and 12th in blocks.
Freshman Brittany Spears is making a name for herself as well. She earned her third Big 12 Rookie of the Week honor on March 3 after averaging 15 points and 12.5 rebounds in road games with No. 8/8 Baylor and Nebraska. Her 401 points are the fifth most by a CU freshman. Her 13.8 points per game average is on pace to be the best by a CU freshman since All-American Shelley Sheetz averaged 14.1 in 1991-92 and the best by any first-year player since Isabelle Fijalkowski averaged 16.1 in 1994-95, her lone season in Boulder. An all-around performer, she is only the second player in team history to record 40 blocks, 40 assists and 40 steals in the same season (Raegan Scott did it as a junior in 1995-96 and as a senior in 1996-97). Spears has the third most blocks (44) and rebounds (220) by a freshman in team history and is tied for fifth in steals on the all-time freshman list. Her scoring (13.8 ppg), rebounding (7.6 rpg) and blocks (1.5 bpg) top all freshmen in the Big 12 while she is second in steals (1.8 spg) and free-throw percentage (.857) and fourth in assists (1.8 apg).
In the backcourt, senior guard Susie Powers averages a team-best 3.6 assists per game. Her 104 assists this season are the most by a Buffs player since Mandy Nightingale had 161 (4.7 apg) during the 2001-02 season. Powers, who had a career-high 10 assists in the win over Pepperdine, is second in the Big 12 with a 1.9 assist-to-turnover ratio (104 assists-54 turnovers) and also ranks ninth in the Big 12 in assists.
Sophomore Aija Putnina, who has started the last 26 contests, is averaging 7.4 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game. Putnina, who registered her fourth double-double of the season with 14 points and 15 rebounds against Texas, is ninth in blocks and 15th in rebounding on the Big 12 charts. She owns two of CU's top three single-game rebounding performances this season, also nabbing 15 against Northern Colorado on Nov. 28. Her 38 blocks on the season are the fourth most by a sophomore in team history.
Sophomore Bianca Smith, who entered the starting lineup for the first time this season against Oklahoma State, ranks third on the team in scoring at 10 points per game. She leads the team in 3-pointers with 70, which is tied with Kate Fagan (2002-03) for fourth on CU's single-season list, and is hitting 41 percent from downtown (24-of-58) over the last eight games. A formidable "Sixth-Woman" candidate in the Big 12 this season, Smith was named Big 12 Player of the Week on Dec. 10 after averaging 19.0 points and hitting 57 percent from the field in games against No. 22 (AP)/21 (WBCA) Wyoming and No. 20/17 Vanderbilt.
Junior Hannah Skildum, who started 16 games earlier in the season, provides a strong defensive presence to Colorado's back court and averages 3.1 points and 1.7 rebounds per game and is coming off a seven-point performance off the bench against Missouri. Whitney Houston and Britney Blythe have also seen extended minutes in the Colorado backcourt. Houston's minutes have increased over the past 10 games and is averaging six points per contest during that span. Blythe, played key minutes off the bench in Colorado's win over Kansas, scoring eight points and grabbing three rebounds but has missed seven of the last 10 games.
Colorado has several front-court options off the bench. After seeing limited minutes for a good portion of the season, 6-4 junior center Kara Richards has played strong down the stretch. She is averaging 6.4 points and 5.2 rebounds over her last five appearances (she didn't play in the Kansas State game). She had a season-high 11 rebounds against Missouri. Junior Caley Dow has been crashing the boards lately pulling down six in each of the last two contests. Freshman Courtney Dunn had six points and five rebounds off the bench against No. 10 Oklahoma and has five or more rebounds in six games.
Colorado is averaging 66.2 points per game while holding opponents to 60.9 per contest. Overall CU is shooting 42 percent from the field and is the Big 12's top free-throw shooting team at 75 percent. CU is outrebounding teams by 3.6 boards per game and ranks second in 3-point field goals (6.8 3mpg) and third in blocked shots (5.4 bpg) on the Big 12 charts. In league play, Colorado is scoring 63.1 points per game and shooting 40 percent from the field.
ABOUT THE CYCLONES: Iowa State finished the regular season at 18-11 and tied with Texas for seventh in the Big 12 at 7-9. Texas gained the edge for the No. 7 seed over Iowa State with its 59-56 win in Austin on Jan. 16. The Cyclones had won two straight before falling to Nebraska, 55-45, in Lincoln in their season finale. ISU is the best 3-point shooting team in the Big 12 in terms of both made (7.5 per game) and average (.362). On the defensive end, Iowa State has given up the fewest points in the league (55.1 ppg) and tops the Big 12 in rebounding defense at 32.5 per contest.
Sophomore Alison Lacey leads Iowa State by averaging 14.5 points and 3.9 assists per game. She leads the Big 12 by hitting 41 percent from 3-point range and her 2.6 3-pointers per game rank second on the league charts. Freshman Kelsey Bolte averages 10.1 points and 5.3 rebounds while hitting 41 percent from 3-point range. Junior forward Jocelyn Anderson has moved into the starting lineup replacing Nicky Wieben who suffered a knee injury during the Texas game on Jan. 16. Anderson is averaging 6.8 points and 5.4 rebounds per game with a team-best 63 blocks.
SERIES RECORDS: This will be the 61st meeting between Colorado and Iowa State with the Buffaloes holding a 36-24 series edge. The Cyclones have held the upper hand in recent years, winning eight of the last nine contests, including a sweep of the 2008 regular season series. Colorado holds a 6-3 series lead on a neutral court, but the Cyclones have a 2-1 edge in Big 12 Championship meetings and have won the last two. CU and Iowa State last met in the Big 12 Championship in 2005 -- the last time the tournament was held at Municipal Auditorium -- where the No. 5 Cyclones needed a last-second 3-pointer to defeat the No. 12 Buffaloes, 64-62, in what would be the final game for legendary CU coach Ceal Barry. Kathy McConnell-Miller is 1-5 against Iowa State, with all six games coming while at Colorado
COLORADO AND IOWA STATE, LAST 10:
Date Result Date Result
1/30/08 (A) L, 45-65 1/21/06 (H) L, 71-86
1/13/08 (H) L, 77-84 2OT 3/8/05 (N) L, 62-64
2/17/07 (A) L, 55-74 2/2/05 (A) L, 76-103
1/10/07 (H) W, 81-67 1/8/05 (H) L, 64-76
3/2/06 (A) L, 46-56 2/11/04 (H) W, 72-67
JONES CUP REUNION: Colorado's Jackie McFarland and Iowa State's Heather Ezell will battle against each other on Tuesday, but the two were teammates this last July with the U.S. William Jones Cup. McFarland averaged 9.7 points and 4.5 rebounds and led Team USA in field-goal percentage (.571) during the six-game tournament while Ezell averaged 8.7 points and two assists as Team USA brought home a bronze medal from the six-game tournament held in Taipei, Taiwan.
SMITH, SPEARS EARN BIG 12 WEEKLY HONORS: Colorado has been recognized with Big 12 weekly honors four times this season, a school record for the Buffs in the 12 years of the league.
Freshman forward Brittany Spears has been named Big 12 Rookie of the week three times, including this past week by averaging a double-double in road games at No. 8 (AP)/8 (WBCA) Baylor and Nebraska. Spears, who also earned honors on Jan. 7 and Feb. 11, is the first CU player to earn three separate Big 12 weekly awards in the same season. Sophomore guard Bianca Smith was named the Big 12 Women's Basketball Player of the Week on Dec. 10.
In her most recent honor, Spears averaged 15 points, 12.5 rebounds and two steals against Baylor and Nebraska. She scored 16 points and had a career-high 14 rebounds against the Lady Bears and added 14 points, 11 rebounds and four steals against the Huskers.
The week of Feb. 5-11, she averaged 19 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.0 blocks while hitting 48 percent from the field in games against Nebraska and No. 10 (AP & WBCA) Oklahoma. Her other honor came right before the beginning of the Big 12 season as she helped Colorado register its 10th straight win by scoring 16 points and grabbing seven rebounds in a 65-53 decision over Pepperdine on Jan. 4.
Smith averaged 19 points, two assists and two rebounds off the bench while leading Colorado to wins over No. 22/21 Wyoming and at No. 20/17 Vanderbilt. Against Wyoming, Smith scored 16 points on 5-of-8 from the floor with three assists as Colorado broke a three-game losing streak against the Cowgirls. Smith had a then-career high 22 points on 7-of-14 from the field with three rebounds, one steal and one assist as the Buffs handed the Commodores just their second loss in 23 home games.
SMITH'S RECORD NIGHT FROM -3': Sophomore Bianca Smith tied three different school 3-point field goal records during CU's 67-52 win over Texas on Feb. 16. Smith tied school marks for 3-pointers made in one game with seven, and also 3-pointers made and attempted in one half by hitting 5-of-9 in the first 20 minutes. It's the fifth time a CU player has had seven 3-pointers in one game, done by four players (Kate Fagan did it twice). Veronica Johns-Richardson was the last to do it, against Northern Colorado on Dec. 29, 2004. Smith's five first half 3-pointers matched efforts by Shelley Sheetz at Tennessee on Dec. 20, 1993 and Fagan at Syracuse on Dec. 31, 2002. Her nine first half 3-point attempts matched Sheetz's nine at Tennessee.
Smith, who finished with a career-high 26 points on that night and followed that performance up with five more 3-pointers in the win over Kansas State, continues to move up the ladder on CU's single season and career 3-point charts. Her 70 3-pointers this season tie Kate Fagan (2002-03) for fourth on CU's single-season list and leaves her just nine shy of Fagan's single-season school record of 79 set in 2003-04. She has 102 career 3-pointers ranking eighth on CU's all-time list and needs eight to pass Alexis Felts (1994-98) for seventh. Smith's 190 3-point attempts this season are the second most in team history and she needs just two attempts to break Mandy Nightingale's school record of 191 set in 2001-02. Her 282 career attempts rank eighth.
AWARDS PILING UP FOR McFARLAND: Jackie McFarland was named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America team for the third straight year, this time as a first team member, announced by the College Sports Information Directors of America on Feb. 26.
McFarland earned second team honors in 2006 and 2007. She is Colorado's third three-time Academic All-American joining Jim Hansen (Football, 1990-92) and Kelly Smith (Cross Country/Track & Field, 1996-98).
Sporting a 3.86 GPA, McFarland is working on a concurrent degree program which will allow her to earn her MBA while completing her undergraduate degree in accounting. McFarland won CU's Scholar-Athlete Award in the spring of 2007 for having the highest GPA in her class. McFarland is a three-year team captain and is actively involved in CU's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.
SAAC is the governing body for student-athletes at CU which assists in the development and implementation of programs that motivate student-athletes to strive for and be recognized for academic excellence and community involvement.
McFarland is currently one of 10 finalists for the 2008 Lowe's Senior CLASS Award. She was one of 30 original nominees for the Senior CLASS Award that was pared down to 10 finalists by a national media committee.
The award - presented annually to the NCAA Division I Student-Athlete of the Year in eight sports - focuses on the "Four C's" of classroom, character, community and competition. An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, the award was launched during the 2001-02 season to honor the attributes of college basketball seniors who remain committed to their university and pursue the many rewards that a senior season and complete college education brings.
McFarland is a 2008 Naismith Award semifinalist and she was tabbed as a preseason first team All-Big 12 selection and one of the top five power forwards in the country by ESPN.com.
Fans nationwide can vote on the Senior CLASS Award finalists from now through March 21. Fan balloting, available on the award's official website www.seniorclassaward.com, will be combined with votes from coaches, media and sponsors to determine the recipient of the award. Winners will be announced during the NCAA Men's and Women's Final Four.
BLOCK PARTY: Colorado is blocking shots at a near-record pace. The Buffaloes rank third in the Big 12 at 5.4 blocks per game. CU's 157 blocks rank third on the team's single-season list and sit five shy of the school record 162 set in 2000-01. Freshman Brittany Spears leads the way with 44 blocks while sophomore Aija Putnina is second with 38 and senior Jackie McFarland, who is fourth in all-time blocks at CU, is third this season with 33. It's the first time in team history that the Buffaloes have three players with 30 or more blocks in one season.
CU's high for a game this season was 13 against Dartmouth, the second highest single-game total in team history, trailing only the school record 16 set against Sam Houston in a 99-60 win on Dec. 14, 2000. CU followed up that performance with 12 against Iowa State on Jan. 13. The Buffaloes, who have three games this season with 10 or more blocks, rank 13th in the NCAA in blocked shots through games of Mar. 2.
3-POINTERS FALLING: Colorado is second in the Big 12 Conference and ranks 16th in the nation (through games of March 2) at 6.8 3-point field goals per game. The Buffaloes have established new single-season team marks for 3-point shooting. CU has 198 3-point field goals made breaking the old mark of 196 set in 2001-02. The Buffs have blown away the old 3-point attempts mark. CU has 627 attempts, shattering the old school record of 501 originally achieved in 2001-02.
The Buffaloes have a school single-season record eight games with 10 or more 3-point field goals. The previous season high was five in the 34-game 2001-02 season. CU had a season-high 14 against Colorado State, its second best single-game total (CU had 16 against Buffalo on Jan. 3, 2004). That came during a string of netting 10 or more 3-pointers in four straight games for the first time. The Buffs had 10 3-pointers against Wyoming and Northern Colorado and 13 against Rice. Against UNC, the Buffs set a school record for 3-point field goal attempts in one half with 21 in the first stanza and finished the game with 36 attempts, just one shy of the school record of 37 set against Buffalo on Jan. 3, 2004.
Individually, it hasn't been one player doing the damage. For the first time in school history, CU has six different players with 10 or more 3-pointers. Sophomore Bianca Smith leads the team with 70, Brittany Spears is second with 45 followed by Susie Powers (24), Jackie McFarland (14), Whitney Houston (12) and Hannah Skildum (12).
NUMBERS FOR McFARLAND: Jackie McFarland notched her eighth double-double of the season by scoring 25 points and grabbing 14 rebounds on Senior Day against Missouri. Her eight doubles tie for second in the Big 12 this season and her 14 rebounds allowed her to move past Erin Scholz (1993-97) for second place on CU's career list for double-digit rebounding games with 47. She is second on CU's career list for double-doubles with 45, a number that ranks fifth all-time in the Big 12. McFarland is second on CU's all-time list with 97 double figure scoring games and has reached double-digits in 89 of her last 95 games.
McFarland is third on CU's all-time scoring and rebounding lists sporting 1,836 points and 1,000 rebounds. She is 22 points away from catching Tera Bjorklund (2000-04) for second place and became the third player in team history to reach 1,000 rebounds during the Missouri game. She is one of only two players -- joining Lisa Van Goor -- to have 1,800 points and 1,000 rebounds in a career.
McFarland is CU's all-time leader in free-throws made with 541, and ranks second in free-throw attempts (705), fourth in blocked shots (133) and field-goals made (634) and sixth in minutes (3,730).
She is the only player in team history to score 500 points in three different seasons. McFarland is four free throws made away from breaking her own single-season school record of 161 set in 2006-07. She was 12-of-12 from the line against Missouri which ties for the second-best single game performance in team history.
In terms of career averages, she is on pace to rank third in scoring (15.8 ppg), fifth in rebounding (8.7) and eighth in field-goal percentage (.536).
DEFENSE WINS: Colorado has enjoyed some impressive defensive numbers at times this season.
The Buffaloes have held seven opponents under 50 points in 2007-08; 29-vs. Texas Southern, 38-vs. Southern Utah, 41-vs. Kansas, 43-vs. Dartmouth, 47-at Colorado State, 47-vs. Missouri and 48-at San Francisco. CU had held their opponent under 50 points just three times total in the previous three seasons. It's also the first time the Buffs have held two Big 12 opponents under 50 points in the same season since 2002-03.
CU yielded less than 50 points in three-straight games -- Texas Southern, Dartmouth and Southern Utah -- the first such streak since 2003-04. The Buffs' six sub-50 point defensive performances are the most in one season since the 2002-03 squad registered nine.
Colorado had a historic performance from a defensive perspective against Texas Southern. The Buffaloes held the Lady Tigers to just 29 points, which ties for the fourth-lowest total in team history (equals a 79-29 win over Iowa State on Feb. 19, 1993). It was just the fifth time in CU history the Buffs have held an opponent under 30 points (the ISU game in 1993 being the last). CU allowed just 13 second-half points, tying for the second-lowest second-half total in team history (also done in the ISU game and against Utah State on Jan. 28, 1981). The Buffaloes forced Texas Southern into 32 turnovers, the most since forcing 35 against Detroit Mercy on Nov. 24, 2002.
Colorado's season-long defensive efforts are on pace to rank among some of the best in team history. The Buffs have allowed opponents just 37.9 percent shooting from the field, which would rank third in the CU record book behind the 1980-81 (.358) and 1981-82 (.375) teams. CU has allowed just 60.9 points per contest which would rank eigth on the single-season charts and their +3.6 rebounding margin would rank 10th.
CAPTAINS EARN ACADEMIC ALL-BIG 12: Team captains lead not just on the court, but in the classroom too. Colorado's three team captains -- Caley Dow, Jackie McFarland and Susie Powers -- each earned spots on the 2008 Academic All-Big 12 Women's Basketball team the league office announced on Mar. 5. Dow and McFarland were first team honorees, while Powers was selected to the second team.
Dow, a 6-2 forward, earned her second-straight first team honor. She is averaging 2.7 rebounds and just under two points for the Buffaloes while hitting 47 percent from the field. Dow is a Spanish for the Professions major and active in the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC).
Powers, who has started 57 of 59 career games in a CU uniform, is recognized by the Big 12 for the second-straight season. A Spanish and education major, she was a first team Academic All-Big 12 pick in 2007.
McFarland picks up her third Academic All-Big 12 award. She is a three-time Academic All-American.
PLAYING WELL AGAINST RANKED TEAMS: Colorado is 3-4 this season against ranked opponents. The three wins are the most by the Buffaloes since sporting a 3-7 mark against the nation's Top 25 in 2003-04.
Colorado's 73-68 win over No. 15 Kansas State marked the highest ranked team the Buffaloes have beaten since defeating No. 15 Notre Dame, 67-63 on Nov. 15, 2003. It's the highest ranked team the Buffs have beaten as an unranked team since knocking off No. 12 North Carolina 86-67 in the second round of the 2003 NCAA Tournament in Boulder.
Colorado had its biggest week in early December in several years in terms of success against ranked teams.
Colorado's 69-55 win over No. 21/22 Wyoming on Dec. 5 snapped a 23-game Buffs' losing streak to ranked teams. The Buffaloes last win over a ranked opponent had been a 69-59 decision at No. 24 Baylor on Jan. 7, 2004 where CU was ranked No. 14 at the time. The win was Colorado's first against a ranked team while being unranked since the NCAA Tournament win over UNC.
The Buffaloes kept the momentum going four days later with a 62-51 win at No. 20/17 Vanderbilt. The win gave CU's its first two-game win streak against ranked teams since knocking off No. 23 Washington and No. 24 Baylor in 2003-04. It was the first pair of wins over two ranked teams in back-to-back games since the 2002 NCAA Tournament when the Buffs defeated No. 22/24 LSU in the second round and No. 5 Stanford in the Sweet 16. It was Colorado's first win on the road over a ranked opponent since the Baylor game in 2004. It was CU's first win over a ranked opponent as an unranked team since defeating No. 12 Texas in Austin, 60-56, on Feb. 26, 1997.
Colorado's losses against the Top 25 this year have been competitive, if not downright close calls. No. 10/10 Oklahoma used a strong second half to pull away 82-66 on Feb. 9 in Norman as did No. 21/18 Oklahoma State in an 81-72 decision on Feb. 2 in Boulder and No. 8/8 Baylor in a 76-62 decision in Waco on Feb. 27. CU led No. 19/16 Texas A&M for most the game before a late comeback allowed the Aggies to leave Boulder with a 72-68 decision on Jan. 16.
RANKING OF OUR OWN: Colorado did not receive votes in either the AP or WBCA Top 25 polls released this week. CU had at least received votes for six-straight weeks from Dec. 10 through Jan. 22. The Buffaloes were ranked in four straight AP polls, peaking at No. 23 on Jan. 1 and Jan. 8. The Buffaloes debuted in the 2007 AP poll at No. 25 on Dec. 24 for their first national ranking since finishing No. 17 (AP)/No. 24 (WBCA) in the final 2003-04 polls. Colorado has a rich tradition in the AP poll, making 158 appearances since 1980. The Buffs were ranked in 75 straight polls from Mar. 15, 1992 to Dec. 9, 1996 and 30 straight from Jan. 22, 2001 to Mar. 22, 2002.
With Colorado's early-season AP ranking, Buffs head coach Kathy McConnell-Miller became the 22nd person in NCAA Division I women's history to play for and coach an AP ranked team. McConnell-Miller was a four-year letterwinner at Virginia (1986-90) where she played in four NCAA Tournaments with the Cavaliers including a pair of Sweet 16 appearances and the 1988 Elite Eight.
DEFENSE IN THE KANSAS GAME: Colorado's 59-41 win over Kansas was won, in large part thanks to its defense. The 41 points allowed to the Jayhawks tied for the third lowest against a Big 12 opponent during the regular season. Three of the four lowest totals have come against the Jayhawks:
35 -- Colorado 70, at Kansas 35, Jan. 16, 2002
40 -- Colorado 69, at Texas A&M 40, Feb. 8, 1997
41 -- at Colorado 59, Kansas 41, Jan. 22, 2008
41 -- at Colorado 80, Kansas 41, Jan. 29, 2002
The 18-point margin of victory was also the highest by a Kathy McConnell-Miller led team in a Big 12 game, beating the previous margin of 14 against Iowa State on Jan. 10, 2007 (81-67).
YOUTH SERVED: Colorado's freshman class was key in the Buffaloes win over Kansas combining for 31 points, the most by a freshman class since the trio of Whitney Houston (25), Candace Rucker (6) and Aija Putnina (3) combined for 34 in a 70-68 overtime loss at Kansas last season. Brittany Spears led the way with 14 points while Courtney Dunn pitched in a career-high nine points and Britney Blythe had eight off the bench.
DOUBLE OT: Colorado went double-overtime for just the fifth time in school history and the first time at the Coors Events Center with its 84-77 loss to Iowa State on Jan. 13. It was the first double-overtme for CU since the Buffaloes defeated the Cyclones 68-66 at Iowa State on Jan. 18, 1997, and the Buffs fell to 16-20 all-time in overtime and 2-3 in double-overtime. Seniors Jackie McFarland and Susie Powers each played 48 minutes in the game, tying a school record initially set by Tracy Tripp against Oklahoma State on March 6, 1989.
BIG 12 OPENERS: Colorado evened its record in Big 12 Conference openers at 6-6 by defeating Missouri 70-58 on Jan. 9. It was Colorado's first season-opening Big 12 win on the road since the Buffs beat Baylor to begin the 2004 league slate. The 12-point margin was also the Buffs highest in a conference road opener since a 67-53 win at Missouri to open the 1993 Big Eight schedule. Colorado, now 20-14 in all-time conference openers, are 16-9 in home league openers since 1983 and 6-5 in the Big 12 era.
OPENING NIGHT STAR: Colorado freshman Brittany Spears joined some elite company in her Big 12 debut. Her 24 points were the second-most in team history for a freshman in her first league game. Only CU Athletic Hall of Fame member and 1995 All-American Shelley Sheetz had more points in a conference debut as she scored 25 during a 75-69 loss at Nebraska on Jan. 15, 1992. Her seven rebounds tie current teammate Jackie McFarland for the most by a freshman in a road opener since 1994. McFarland had seven in an 84-62 setback at Nebraska on Jan. 5, 2005.
NUMBERS ON 11 STRAIGHT: Colorado saw its 11-game win streak end against Iowa State, but the run was the seventh longest in team history and the most consecutive victories since the 1994-95 team matched a CU All-Sports record 25 straight wins (shared with the 1939-41 baseball team). Here are the Buffs' all-time best win streaks:
Wins Season Record Noteable
1. 25 1994-95 30-3 NCAA Elite Eight, 14-0 in Big Eight
2. 20 1988-89 27-4 NCAA 1st Round, 14-0 in Big Eight
3. 15 1992-93 27-4 NCAA Elite Eight, 15-0 season start
4. 14 1991-92 22-9 NCAA 1st Rd, Big Eight Tourney Champs
5. 12 1981-82 28-8 AIAW National 1st Round
12 1980-81 28-5 First of two 9-plus winning streaks in -81
7. 11 2007-08 -- First 11-plus streak since 1994-95
8. 9 2003-04 22-8 NCAA 1st Round
9 1993-94 27-5 NCAA Sweet 16
9 1992-93 27-4 NCAA Elite Eight, Big Eight Champs
9 1980-81 28-5 First AIAW National Appearance
9 1978-79 22-9 3rd place in AIAW Regional
PERFECT DECEMBER: Colorado registered a perfect 7-0 record for the month of December for the first time since 2003-04, and for just the sixth time in team history. The Buffaloes matched the 1980-81 and 1981-82 teams which were both 7-0 in December. The 1992-93 team had a program best December mark of 9-0, while the 2002-03 squad was 6-0 and 5-0 in 2003-04. CU is 118-54 (.686) all-time in the month of December.
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.
HOME AT THE CECC: Colorado is traditionally tough at home with a 319-97 all-time record at the Coors Events/Conference Center (.767). The Buffaloes have won 10 or more games in a season at the CECC in 20 of the previous 30 years including this season, after notching win No. 10 against Texas on Feb. 16. The Buffaloes have enjoyed five undefeated seasons (1980-83, 1992-94) at the CECC.
ON THE ROAD: Colorado is 4-8 on the road this season and had won three straight for the first time since 2003-04 before falling at Kansas State on Jan. 19. The four wins doubles the team road win total from the previous two seasons combined (1-10 in 2006-07 and 1-9 in 2004-05). CU's 82-47 win over Colorado State was significant on several fronts. The 35-point margin was the Buffs' highest on the road since a 70-35 win over Kansas on Jan. 16, 2002 and it was also their largest win over Colorado State (regardless of venue) since a 112-48 win on Nov. 16, 1979. The 82 points were the most CU has scored on an opponents home court since the Buffs' last trip to Moby Arena, an 86-83 loss to the Rams on Nov. 30, 2005. Colorado broke Vanderbilt's 10-game home winning streak and handed the Commodores just their second loss in 23 home games, the other coming last season against eventual national champion Tennessee.
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.
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 were part of the Big 12's national package with FSN: Jan. 13 against Iowa State at home and Jan. 26, at Texas Tech. FSN Rocky Mountain is televising seven CU home games which began with Wyoming on Dec. 5. CU's game at Colorado State on Dec. 1 was televised by The Mtn. Network.
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.
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.
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).