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Buffs Host Coors Classic Nov. 28-29

Nov 27, 2008

THE GAME: Colorado hosts the 22nd Annual Coors Classic, Friday-Saturday, Nov. 28-29, at the Coors Events/Conference Center:


Friday, Nov. 28

Drexel vs. Minnesota, 5 p.m.

UMass at Colorado, 7:30 p.m.


Saturday, Nov. 29

Consolation, 5 p.m.

Championship, 7:30 p.m.


BROADCAST: Colorado's Coors Classic games can be heard live on KKZN AM 760. Mike Rice will deliver play-by-play with Carol Callan of USA Basketball providing color commentary. Live internet audio of all CU basketball games is available through Yahoo! Sports. Colorado's games will also be streamed live on through the BuffsTV subscription service.


OPENING TIP: Colorado is 34-8 all-time in the Coors Classic and has won 12 of the 20 titles contested (No championship awarded in 2006).


THE BUFFALOES: Colorado is 2-1 and looking to rebound from its first loss of the season, as the Buffaloes fell to No. 16(AP)/11(WBCA) Virginia, 77-43, on Nov. 24 in Charlottesville. The 43 points was a sudden change after Colorado had averaged 89.5 points and shot nearly 50 percent in its first two games. Against Virginia, the Buffaloes were held to 25 percent from the field and recorded its lowest point total since scoring 40 in a loss at Baylor on Feb. 22, 2006.


The Buffaloes return to the Coors Events Center where they have  won eight of their last nine games overall and 13 of their last 14 against nonconference opponents.


Sophomore Brittany Spears has led CU through the first three games averaging 17.0 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.3 steals. She tied her career high with 24 points against Colorado State and is the first CU player to hit 20 points in the first two games of the season since Jamillah Lang in 1993-94, who scored 20 or more in her first four contests. Spears also notched her eighth career double-double in the Colorado State game, pulling down a team season-high 10 rebounds.


Senior center Kara Richards has had an equally impressive start to her season. She's averaged 15 points and 6.3 rebounds over the first three games while hitting a Big 12 Conference best 67 percent from the field (16-of-24) and 81 percent from the free-throw line (13-of-16). Richards scored a career-high 25 points in the win over Colorado State, which included a personal best 9-of-9 performance from the free throw line. Her 45 points in three games his nearly half of her junior season point total of 97 in 30 games.


Junior guard Bianca Smith has averaged 10.7 points and 7.0 rebounds in the early season totals. The scoring is not a surprise for Smith, but the rebound numbers are vastly improved. She held a career 1.7 rebound per game average coming into this season, but had a personal-best eight rebounds against Colorado State, bettering her previous career high of six which she reached in the season opener against UCF and against Marquette in the final game of the 2007-08 season. She followed that up with seven rebounds against Virginia.


Sophomore point guard Kelly Jo Mullaney has had a solid start running the Buffaloes offense. She's averaging 8.7 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game. Mullaney scored 14 points and dished out six assists in win over Colorado State, a team which she played for in 2006-07. True freshman guard Alyssa Fressle has started the season's first three games averaging 7.3 points, 2.0 rebounds and 2.7 assists per contest.


Colorado's bench, albeit short due to injuries, has been very productive. The bench has averaged 15.3 points per game for Colorado, led by freshman forward Julie Seabrook who has averaged 5.3 points over the first three contests while hitting 6-of-9 from the field. Senior Hannah Skildum leads the team in assists with nine, tying a career high with five against UCF, and is second in the Big 12 Conference in assist-to-turnover ratio at 4.5. She is also averaging 4.3 points and 3.3 rebounds per game. Sophomore center Courtney Dunn has four 3-point field goals in three games and had five rebounds off the bench against Virginia.


ABOUT THE MINUTEWOMEN: UMass is 2-2 on the young season and is coming off a 54-45 setback at Maine on Nov. 23. The Minutewomen were selected 12th in the Atlantic 10 Conference Preseason Poll after losing five letterwinners, including a pair of 1,000-point scorers in 2008 All A-10 performers Kate Mills and Pam Rosanio. UMass is averaging 63 points per game while hitting 38 percent from the field and 58 percent from the free throw line.


UMass is led by senior guard Stefanie Gerardot who is averaging 18.5 points per game and had a career high 29 in the season-opening loss at Vermont (83-69). Sophomore Teya Wright is UMass' top rebounder at 7.8 per game and averages 10 points per contest while shooting 68 percent from the floor (15-of-22). Sophomore guard Cerie Mosgrove averages 9.5 points per game and leads the Minutewomen with 11 3-point field goals.


ABOUT THE GOLDEN GOPHERS: Minnesota has the best record of the Coors Classic entrants at 4-1. The Gophers won their own preseason tournament, the Subway Classic, last weekend defeating American (79-62) and Yale (87-63). Minnesota's lone loss was at then No. 2(AP)/2(WBCA) ranked Stanford, the 2008 NCAA runner up. The Gophers are averaging 71.8 points per game while their defense is holding opponents to just under 59 points. Minnesota is shooting 43 percent from the floor and has been very dangerous from downtown making 41 percent through five games.


Senior guard Emily Fox, a preseason All-Big Ten selection, leads Minnesota by scoring 14.2 points per game. Fox, a Highlands Ranch, Colo., native, is 12th in Minnesota history in scoring with 1,110 career points. Junior guard Katie Ohm is second on the team in scoring at 13.4 points per game and is hitting 46 percent from 3-point range (13-of-28). Junior forward Ashley Ellis-Milan is Minnesota's top rebounder at 7.4 boards per game and she ranks fourth on the team in scoring at 7.2 per contest.


ABOUT THE DRAGONS: Drexel is 2-2 overall and enters the Coors Classic coming off a 44-35 win over Bucknell on Nov. 25. The Dragons are averaging 58 points per game while giving up only 55. Drexel shoots just 39 percent from the field, but is a dangerous team to put on the line. The Dragons have made 36-of-43 free throw attempts this season for a sold 84 percent.


All-Colonial Athletic Association forward Gabriela Marginean has accounted or 51 percent of the Dragons' offense this year as she is averaging 29.5 points per game. She scored 33 of Drexel's 44 points in the win over Bucknell and she also leads the Dragons in rebounding at 8.8 per game and she is a 92 percent free throw shooter on the season (23-of-25).  Sophomore guard Jasmina Rosseel, an All-CAA Rookie team member in 2008, is second on the team in scoring at 9.0 per game and leads the Dragons in assists with 11. Freshman guard Kamile Nacickaite averages 7.8 points and 6.5 rebounds off the bench.


SERIES RECORDS: This will be the first meeting between Colorado and UMass. The Buffaloes have met Minnesota four times, with the Gophers holding a 3-1 series lead. Most recently, Minnesota claimed a 95-61 win over Colorado in Minneapolis on Nov. 23, 2003. CU's lone win against Minnesota came in the Gophers only appearance in Boulder, a 76-69 decision on Dec. 30, 1985. Colorado and Drexel have met once, a 70-46 CU win on Dec. 27, 1993, at the Rutgers Holiday Tournament in New Brunswick, N.J.


Colorado is 8-0 all-time against teams currently in the Atlantic 10, and the Buffaloes will face one more of UMass' conference foes, hosting Saint Louis on Dec. 22. CU is 3-1 against the Colonial Athletic Association, including its win over Drexel. The Buffaloes are 5-14 all-time against the Big Ten. It's only CU's second game against a Big Ten team since the 2001-02 season; CU's loss to the Gophers in Minneapolis in 2003 and a 92-83 home win over Iowa on Dec. 2, 2001.


Kathy McConnell-Miller has not faced UMass, Drexel or Minnesota as a head coach.


CU IN COORS CLASSIC: Colorado is 34-8 all-time in the Coors Classic and has won 12 of the 20 tournament titles contested. The Buffaloes will be looking for their first team title since 2003, placing third in 2005 and 2007 and second in 2004.  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, with the Buffaloes and Cowgirls winning both their games.


SCORING EARLY AND OFTEN AT COORS: The Buffaloes offense started the season red hot, breaking the 80-point mark in their first two games (89.5 ppg). It was the first time CU opened the season with back-to-back 80-plus point games since the 2002-03 campaign when the Buffs began with home wins over Rice (85-66) and Detroit Mercy (86-43). The 179 combined points were CU's most since 2000-01 when the Buffs scored 189 in wins over Albany (93-43) and Howard (96-45).


AGAINST RANKED TEAMS: Colorado is 50-108 all-time against ranked teams, after falling to No. 16/11 Virginia on Nov. 24. CU had one of its more successful years against ranked teams in 2007-08, sporting a 3-4 records. Prior to the 2007-08 season, the Buffs had suffered 23 straight losses against ranked opponents from 2004-07.


ON THIS DATE: With their overall success as hosts of the Coors Classic, which has traditionally fallen on the weekend after Thanksgiving, it's no surprise the the Buffaloes are a combined 20-3 on the dates of Nov. 28-29 and a perfect 16-0 at home (8-0 on each night). The Buffs are 9-2 overall on Nov. 28 and 11-1 on Nov. 29.


Colorado is 101-30 all-time in the month of November, including an 81-13 mark at home.


BUFFS IN OPENERS: Colorado improved to 30-5 (.857) all-time in season openers and an outstanding 33-2 (.942) all-time in home openers. Colorado has never lost its overall season opener when played at home (23-0).


HOUSTON TO MISS SEASON, DALE OUT UNTIL LATE DECEMBER: Junior guard Whitney Houston will miss the 2008-09 season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee on Sept. 24 during team individual workouts. She had successful surgery in October and will be able to use her redshirt season and have  two years of eligibility remaining.


Houston has averaged 6.1 points and 1.8 assists for the Buffaloes in 59 games over the past two seasons. She was a starter in 20 of those and was in the mix for the starting point guard position once again. Houston was CU's leader in scoring (4.3 ppg) and assists (1.4 apg) among those that primarily came off the bench in 2007-08 and averaged 6.5 points and just under two assists over the final 15 games.


Additionally sophomore guard Chelsea Dale underwent successful surgery to stabilize ligaments in her right ankle in early September. Dale, who saw action in 12 games as a true freshman in 2007-08, is currently in rehabilitation and is expected to return in December.


BUFFS PICKED 11TH...AGAIN: For the third straight season Colorado was picked to finish 11th in the annaul Big 12 Conference Preseason Coaches Poll.


Oklahoma was picked to win the 2009 title with seven first place votes and 124 points overall. Texas, earning one first place vote, edged out Iowa State for second place with 95 points. The Cyclones, who actually claimed a pair of first place votes came in third with 93. Baylor was fourth with 89 (and one first place vote), followed by Texas A&M (85), Oklahoma State (79, and one first place vote), Kansas State (71), Nebraska (56), Kansas (41), Texas Tech (36), Colorado (18) and Missouri (15).


The Buffaloes have fared better than the Big 12 coaches preseason prediction each of the last three seasons under Kathy McConnell-Miller:


Season                                Preseason                 Actual

2008-09                               11th                             ??

2007-08                               11th                             9th

2006-07                               11th                             t-7th

2005-06                               12th                             11th


TOUGH SCHEDULE: Colorado once again faces a tough schedule with no less than 17 games against 2008 NCAA or WNIT tournament teams. Seven of CU's opponents are ranked in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll: Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Baylor, Virginia, Texas, Oklahoma State and Iowa State. Six of those seven are ranked in the first regular season Associated Press poll, with Iowa State the second team listed in the others receiving votes category. Kansas State, Nebraska, Texas Tech and Minnesota recevied votes in the coaches poll while K-State joined ISU in the AP receiving votes group.


HOME AT THE CECC: Colorado is traditionally tough at home with a 324-98 all-time record at the Coors Events/Conference Center (.768). The Buffaloes have won 10 or more games in a season at the CECC in 20 of the previous 30 years including a 15-6 mark in 2007-08. The Buffaloes have enjoyed five undefeated seasons (1980-83, 1992-94) at the CECC.


BUFFS ON TV: Colorado's schedule features seven games that will be televised either regionally or nationally, all at home and on FSN Rocky Mountain. The Buffaloes will host Nebraska on Saturday, Jan. 31 in a nationally televised contest on FSN. Other games on CU's FSN Rocky Mountain schedule are Colorado State (Nov. 19), Baylor (Jan. 10), Oklahoma (Jan. 21), Texas Tech (Jan. 28), Iowa State (Feb. 7) and Missouri (Feb. 28).


UP NEXT: Colorado continues nonconference action by hosting the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Tuesday, Dec. 2, at 7 p.m. at the Coors Events Center.