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Buffs Say Aloha To Paradise Classic

Jan 2, 2009

THE GAME: The University of Colorado closes out the nonconference portion of its schedule with a pair of games at the Paradise Classic in Honolulu, Hawaii. The Buffaloes will face Pepperdine University on Saturday, Jan. 3, at 6 p.m. MST. CU will then face the host University of Hawaii on Sunday, Jan. 4, at 8 p.m. MST. Both games will be played at the Stan Sherriff Center on the Hawaii campus.


BROADCAST: Both games of the Paradise Classic can be heard live on KKZN AM 760 with Carol Callan of USA Basketball giving the play-by-play. Live internet audio of all CU basketball games is available through Yahoo! Sports.


OPENING TIP: Colorado will look to build on its season-high three game winning streak but will have to do so in unfamiliar territory, which has not been kind recently. The Buffaloes have lost 10 straight games away from Boulder dating back to a 70-58 win at Missouri on Jan. 9, 2008.


THE BUFFALOES: Colorado is 6-4 overall moving two games above .500 for the first time since winning the first two games of the season after defeating Idaho State University, 73-57, on Dec. 30 in its last home nonconference game of 2008-09. The Buffaloes will try and take some of that momentum on the road, playing their first neutral site game of the year against Pepperdine. CU will also be looking to break a nine-game losing streak on an opponents home court when the Buffaloes face Hawaii on Sunday.


Sophomore Brittany Spears leads Colorado and ranks second in the Big 12 in scoring at 19.5 points per game. She has five games of 20-plus points, including a 21 point performance in the win over Saint Louis on Dec. 22, where she had one of the better shooting nights of her young career hitting on 8-of-10 from the field including all three 3-point attempts. She has three double-doubles this season, most recently scoring 14 points and grabbing a team season-high 13 rebounds against Idaho State on Dec. 30. She has the highest individual scoring output in the Big 12 this season, notching 36 against UMass in the first round of the Coors Classic, a Classic record and tying for the third best total in team history (Jasmina Ilic scored 36 against Nebraska on Jan. 4, 2006). Spears, who was named to the Coors Classic All-Tournament Team, ranks fifth in the Big 12 in minutes (32.2 mpg) and rebounding (8.0 rpg), eighth in 3-point field goals made (1.8 3mpg) and percentage (.353), 10th in field-goal percentage (.466), 12th in free-throw percentage (.709) and 15th in blocked shots (0.9 bpg).


Senior center Kara Richards is off to her best start since her freshman year, averaging 12.6 points and 5.4 rebounds over the first 10 games. Richards tops CU in field goal percentage at .610 (47x77) and would rank among the leaders of the Big 12, but she doesn't have the minimum five field goals made per game to qualify. Richards, who is averaging 14.7 points over the last three games, has already surpassed her point total for her entire junior season where she had 97 in 30 games. She needs six rebounds to match her rebounding total from last year as well. Richards has eclipsed the 20 point mark twice this season, including a career-high 25 in the win over Colorado State, which included a personal best 9-of-9 performance from the free throw line.


Junior guard Bianca Smith is third on the team in scoring at 10.3 points per contest, but has picked up the pace as of late. She's averaging 16.3 points over the last three games and is also getting it done on the defensive end with 16 rebounds and eight steals during that span. She's second on the team in rebounding at 5.7 per game, a substantial improvement from her career 1.7 average entering this season. Smith has six or more rebounds in seven of 10 games including a career high 12 -- all defensive -- against Arkansas-Pine Bluff, her first double-digit rebounding total.


True freshman guard Alyssa Fressle has given the Buffaloes good all-around play. Fressle leads CU in steals (2.4 spg) and assists (3.7 apg) and ranks third and ninth respectively in the Big 12 in those two categories. She tops all Big 12 freshmen in scoring (9.0 ppg), steals and assists and overall ranks 13th on the league charts for assist-to-turnover ratio (1.1). Fressle is averaging 11 points and five assists over the last two games and has four or more assists in four of the last five contests.


Colorado tweaked its lineup at the point guard position, as sophomore Britney Blythe has started the last three games in place of sophomore Kelly Jo Mullaney. Blythe, who is more of a natural point guard, has averaged 3.7 points and 2.7 assists as a starter. She was held scoreless against Idaho State, but had scored 18 of her 21 points on the season in previous three games, as she also came off the bench to pitch in seven at Seton Hall. Mullaney has also responded well to coming off the bench. She had eight points and five rebounds in 27 healthy minutes against Idaho State. Mullaney has made 10 of her last 19 field goal attempts spanning the last five games. She is fifth on the team in scoring (5.2 ppg) and is third in assists with 19.


Colorado's bench continues to be active and had its best game of the season in the win over Idaho State, accounting for 22 of the team's 73 points. Freshman forward Julie Seabrook recorded her first career double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds against Idaho State. She ranks fourth among freshmen in the Big 12 in rebounding at 4.4 per game and is second in field-goal percentage (.571). Senior guard/forward Hannah Skildum is averaging 2.8 points and 2.5 rebounds per game and has also dished out 13 assists. Sophomore center Courtney Dunn is providing minutes at the low post, averaging 2.7 points and 2.4 rebounds per game. Senior forward Dina Piterniece has played in seven games, matching her total from last year, pitching in seven points and four rebounds. Colorado's bench has grown by one as sophomore guard Chelsea Dale returned from ankle surgery to make her season debut in the closing minutes against UMKC.


Colorado is averaging 68 points per game while allowing 62.1 to opponents. The Buffaloes are shooting 42 percent from the field and 68 percent from the free throw line. Colorado's field goal percentage defense has been good, limiting opponents to just 37 percent from the floor and 26 percent from 3-point range, but opponents are enjoying a 3.8 rebound per game edge over the Buffaloes.


Colorado struggled to score in its only two road games of the season, averaging just 41.5 points while making only 27 percent from the field and 20 percent from 3-point range.


ABOUT THE WAVES: Pepperdine is 6-6 overall and will be playing its first games since a 82-54 home loss to the University of Kansas on Dec. 23. The Waves will meet Hawaii on Friday before facing the Buffaloes on Saturday. Pepperdine is averaging 62.1 points per game while shooting 38 percent from the field and 63 percent from the free-throw line. The Waves have held opponents to just under 61 points per contest and have averaged a solid 11.3 steals per game.


The Waves are led by All-West Coast Conference center Miranda Ayim who is averaging 11.6 points and 5.2 rebounds per game while hitting 50 percent from the field. She is the only active Waves player averaging double figures in points. Freshman guard Jazmine Jackson is averaging 8.9 points and 3.6 games off the bench. Senior guard Nakeya Isabell leads Pepperdine in assists (5.8 apg) and steals (2.3 spg) and is also the team's top free throw shooter at 82 percent. Pepperdine was bit by the injury bug earlier in the season losing sophomore guard Katie Menton, who averaged 10.7 points in six games, to a season-ending knee injury.


ABOUT THE RAINBOW WAHINE: Hawaii is 3-8 overall, but has won three of its last five after losing six straight to start the season. The Rainbow Wahine will face Pepperdine on Friday, in their first action since defeating Washington State, 65-59, on Dec. 22. Hawaii averages 60 points per game while giving up 67 to its opponents. The Rainbow Wahine are shooting 41 percent from the field, 30 percent from 3-point range and 70 percent from the foul line.


Sophomore guard Keisha Kanekoa tops Hawaii in scoring at 13.6 points per game and also has a team-best 44 assists. Junior guard Megan Tinnin is averaging 10.6 points per contest and is Hawaii's top 3-point threat with 21 on the season. Junior forward Dita Liepkalne leads Hawaii in rebounding at 7.7 per game while averaging 8.8 points per contest.


SERIES RECORDS: This will be the third meeting between Colorado and Pepperdine with the Buffaloes winning both prior contests, including a 65-53 win in Boulder on Jan. 4, 2008. Hawaii and Colorado will meet for just the second time. The Buffaloes won the previous matchup, 74-72, on Dec. 3, 1988 in Honolulu.


Kathy McConnell-Miller is 1-2 as a head coach against Pepperdine, 1-0 with Colorado. She is 6-8 against Hawaii with all 14 meetings coming while she was at Tulsa.

ON THIS DATE: Colorado is 6-1 all time on Jan. 3 and 1-0 in neutral site games, defeating Iowa in Miami, 72-70 in 1993. The Buffaloes are 5-3 in games played on Jan. 4, including a win over Pepperdine in Boulder last year.


Colorado is 157-128 all-time in the month of January. The Buffaloes were 3-5 in January 2008.


BALANCED SCORING ATTACK: Colorado had its most balanced scoring attack in over two years as five players scored in double-digits during the Buffs 73-57 win over Idaho State. Brittany Spears and Kara Richards each had 14 points, Julie Seabrook and Bianca Smith each had 12 and Alyssa Fressle had 11. It was almost six in double-digits as Kelly Jo Mullaney had eight off the bench. It was CU's first game with five in double-digits since a 77-71 win at Kansas on Feb. 1, 2006. Current CU senior Hannah Skildum was one of the five with double digits in that game, scoring 11 off the bench as a freshman.


SEABROOK LEADS STRONG BENCH EFFORT: Freshman Julie Seabrook recorded her first career double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds in the win over Idaho State. Seabrook, who surpassed her previous career best in rebounds (5) with six in the first half alone, corralled eight offensive rebounds in the win, the most on that side of the ledger for CU since Jackie McFarland had eight against Oklahoma on Jan. 20, 2007. Seabrook's 12 points off the bench were the most by a Buff this season and the team's 22 bench points tied for the best output of the season, matching the effort in the season-opening win over UCF.


MORE ON SPEARS SCORING: Sophomore Brittany Spears' scoring numbers have been impressive over the first 10 games and ranks among the best totals in team history. Her 195 points and 19.5 points per game average ranks sixth on CU's all-time list through the first 10 games off the season. Spears trails only former teammate and CU's second all-time leading scorer Jackie McFarland who is on the list twice, Tera Bjorklund also on the list twice, and Jamillah Lang who set Colorado's single-season record for scoring average at 19.2 per game.


CU All-Time Best Through Nine Games

Player (season)                                    Points              Avg.

1 Tera Bjorklund (2003-04)                      215                   21.5

2 Jackie McFarland (2005-06)     211                   21.1

3 Jamillah Lang (1993-94)                       207                   20.7

4 Tera Bjorklund (2002-03)                      199                   19.9

5 Jackie McFarland (2006-07)     198                   19.8

6 Brittany Spears (2008-09)       195                   19.5


MORE SMITH FROM DOWNTOWN: Bianca Smith, who set a CU single season record with 80 3-point field goals last year, is beginning to heat up once again from downtown as the Big 12 season nears.  After starting the season by hitting just 12 of her first 49 3-point attempts (.245), she has rebounded to hit 11-of-20 (.550) over the last three games. Smith had a career night in terms of accuracy in the win over UMKC hitting 6-of-8 from 3-point range en route to a game-high 21 points. She ranks seventh on CU's career list for 3-point field goals made (135) and attempted (378). Smith needs 15 3-pointers to move into CU's career top five.


SOUTHERN GAME CANCELLED: Colorado's game with Southern University scheduled for Friday, Dec. 12, was cancelled due to inclement weather. A rare southern snow storm, which left 3-5 inches in and around the Baton Rouge area the morning of Dec. 11, shut down many businesses, schools and flights. Southern's travel plans were cancelled and the Jaguars were not able find travel alternatives to Boulder for the Dec. 12 date.  The game will not be rescheduled in 2008-09.


CU women's basketball season ticket holders and fans who purchased single game tickets for the Southern contest can redeem their tickets for any other game remaining on the women's schedule. For more information, contact the CU Athletic Ticket Office at 303-49BUFFS or 800-87BUFFS.


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.


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 RETURNS: 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.


Sophomore guard Chelsea Dale, who underwent successful surgery to stabilize ligaments in her right ankle in early September, made her season debut against UMKC, playing in the final two minutes of the game. She saw action in 12 games as a true freshman in 2007-08.


BUFFS PICKED 11TH...AGAIN: For the third straight season Colorado was picked to finish 11th in the annual 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 and Associated Press polls and four -- Texas A&M, Texas, Baylor and Oklahoma, are in the top 10 of both.


HOME AT THE CECC: Colorado is traditionally tough at home with a 328-100 all-time record at the Coors Events/Conference Center (.766). 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 opens Big 12 Conference action against No. 7 Baylor on Saturday, Jan. 10, at 4 p.m. at the Coors Events/Conference Center. The game will be televised live on FSN Rocky Mountain.