Buffs Open Big 12 With Baylor
THE GAME: The University of Colorado opens the 2009 Big 12 Conference schedule by hosting No. 6 (AP)/5 (WBCA) ranked Baylor University on Saturday, Jan. 10, at 4 p.m. at the Coors Events/Conference Center.
TICKETS: Saturday is Youth Day where all kids tickets are $1. Activities such as face painting and making your own poster highlight the free youth events and an autograph session with the Buffaloes will follow the game.
BROADCAST: Saturday's game will be televised live on FSN Rocky Mountain. Marc Stout will call the play-by-play with legendary CU coach Ceal Barry providing the color commentary and Alanna Rizzo with the sideline reports. Saturday's game can be heard live on KKZN AM 760 with Mike Rice giving the play-by-play and Carol Callan of USA Basketball with the color commentary. Live internet audio of all CU basketball games is available through Yahoo! Sports.
OPENING TIP: Kathy McConnell-Miller is after her 50th win as Colorado's head coach and leads her team into a challenging start to the Big 12 season. The Buffaloes play four straight games against Big 12 Southern Division teams, all four of which are currently ranked in both the Associated Press and WBCA Coaches polls.
THE BUFFALOES: Colorado is 8-4 overall enjoying a season-best five-game winning streak. The Buffaloes capped off their nonconference schedule on a high note, winning the 2009 Paradise Classic in Honolulu, with wins over Pepperdine and Hawaii. It was Colorado's first two wins away from Boulder in nearly a year as the Buffaloes had dropped 10 straight way from Boulder, and nine in a row on an opponents home court since defeating Missouri, 70-58 in Columbia on Jan. 9, 2008. Now CU returns to the Coors Events Center where recent success has resulted in 20 wins in its last 27 appearances.
Sophomore Brittany Spears leads Colorado and ranks third in the Big 12 in scoring at 18.9 points per game. Spears was named MVP of the Paradise Classic after averaging 16 points, seven rebounds and three blocks 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 fourth in the Big 12 in minutes (33.0 mpg), seventh in rebounds (7.8 rpg), eighth in blocks (1.2 bpg) and 10th in field-goal percentage (.471), free-throw percentage (.712), 3-point field goals made (1.8 3mpg) and 3-point percentage (.362).
Senior center Kara Richards had a strong nonconference season, averaging 12.8 points and 5.7 rebounds over the first 12 games. Richards ranks second in the Big 12 in field-goal percentage (.622) and 13th in free-throw percentage (.640). Richards was named to the Rainbow Classic All-Tournament team averaging 14 points and seven rebounds while hitting 71 percent from the field (12-of-17). During CU's five-game winning streak, she is averaging 14.4 points per game and hitting 66 percent from the floor (29-of-44). Richards, who has already more points and rebounds than she had in 30 games as a junior, 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 10.9 points per contest and has picked up the pace as of late. She's averaging 15.4 points over the last five games and has made 18 of 31 field goal attempts during that span (.581). Named to the Paradise Classic All-Tournament team, Smith had a game-high 23 points against Hawaii on 6-of-7 from 3-point range, a personal best from downtown in terms of accuracy. She's third on the team in rebounding at 5.6 per game, a substantial improvement from her career 1.7 average entering this season. Smith has six or more rebounds in eight of 12 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 (2.1 spg) and assists (4.3 apg). She tops all Big 12 freshmen in scoring (9.3 ppg), steals and assists and overall in the conference rankings she is sixth in assists and eighth in steals. Fressle is averaging 10.8 points and 6.3 assists over the last four games and has four or more assists in six of the last seven contests.
Sophomore Britney Blythe has been the starting point guard during CU's five-game winning streak with sophomore Kelly Jo Mullaney coming off the bench. Blythe, who is more of a natural point guard, has averaged 2.4 rebounds and 2.0 assists as a starter. Mullaney has also responded well to coming off the bench. She has made 15 of her last 27 field goal attempts spanning the last seven games. She is fifth on the team in scoring (5.3 ppg) and is second in assists with 28.
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 fifth among freshmen in the Big 12 in rebounding at 3.9 per game and is fourth in field-goal percentage (.545). Senior guard/forward Hannah Skildum is averaging 2.8 points and 2.3 rebounds, pitching in six points in the win over Hawaii. 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 eight games, eclipsing 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 67.5 points per game while allowing 60.9 to opponents, and just 55.8 over the last five games. The Buffaloes are shooting 43 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 36.5 percent from the floor and 25.3 percent from 3-point range, a mark that ranks 15th in NCAA Division I. The Buffaloes will need to continue to get better on the boards. Colorado gives up nearly four rebounds a game to its opponents.
Colorado's numbers are much better at home. The Buffaloes are averaging 74.6 points per contest while only giving up 58.4 an outing. From the field the Buffaloes are hitting 45 percent of their shots at home and actually hold a rebounding edge of just under two per game over the opposition.
ABOUT THE LADY BEARS: No. 6/5 Baylor is 12-1 overall and has won six straight since suffering its only loss of the season, a 59-58 setback to Wisconsin in the final game of the Paradise Jam in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. This will be just the third true road game for the Lady Bears, but they have won the other two, both by double-digit margins. Baylor averages 76.9 points per game while giving up only 53.7, the second best margin in the Big 12 (+23.2). The Lady Bears are the nation's best rebounding team in terms of margin, grabbing 16 more per game than their opponents. BU is also the Big 12's top rebounding team at 47 per game. The Lady Bears shoot 45 percent from the field and 67 percent from the free-throw line.
Junior center Danielle Wilson leads Baylor averaging 15.1 points, 8.2 rebounds and 3.2 blocked shots per game. Baylor's all-time leading shot blocker, she currently ranks second in the Big 12 in that category and is also among the league leaders in rebounding (fourth), scoring (sixth) and field-goal percentage (sixth). Senior forward Rachel Allison, a 2008 All-Big 12 first team pick, is second on the team with 13.7 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. Junior guard Jhasmin Player is averaging 9.8 points and 5.1 rebounds while hitting 53 percent from the field.
SERIES RECORDS: This will be the 17th meeting between Colorado and Baylor with the series deadlocked at eight games apiece. Baylor has won the last four in the series, including a 76-62 win in Waco on Feb. 27, 2008. Colorado holds a 5-3 edge over the Lady Bears in Boulder, but Baylor has won the last two. CU's last win over Baylor came in Waco as the Buffaloes claimed a 69-59 decision on Jan. 7, 2004. The Buffs last win in Boulder came the year before, a 66-59 win on Jan. 29, 2003.
Kathy McConnell-Miller is 0-2 against Baylor as a head coach, both previous meetings with Colorado.
COLORADO AND BAYLOR, LAST 10:
Date Result Date Result
2/27/08 (A) L, 62-76 1/29/03 (H) W, 66-59
2/21/07 (H) L, 67-75 2/20/02 (A) L, 69-80
2/22/06 (A) L, 40-86 2/3/01 (H) W, 85-66
2/26/05 (H) L, 65-84 2/23/00 (A) L, 90-91 OT
1/7/04 (A) W, 69-59 2/20/99 (H) L, 52-62
ON THIS DATE: Colorado is 6-5 all time on Jan. 10 including a 3-2 mark at home. Colorado is 159-128 all-time in the month of January.
CU IN BIG 12 OPENERS: Colorado is an even 6-6 in Big 12 openers and has won its last two. The Buffaloes are 5-7 in their first Big 12 home game of the season. CU lost a double-overtime game against Iowa State to kick off the 2008 Big 12 home season. Colorado is 3-3 when opening the overall league season at home. The Buffaloes are 20-14 all-time in conference openers, including the Big Eight and Intermountain Conferences.
CHALLENGING START TO LEAGUE PLAY: Barring a major shakeup in the national polls, Colorado will open its Big 12 schedule with four straight games against ranked teams, a first in team history. After facing No. 6/5 Baylor, the Buffaloes travel to No. 21 Oklahoma State on Jan. 14 and No. 8/12 Texas on Jan. 17 and then return home to host No. 4/3 Oklahoma on Jan. 21. Colorado opened the 2002 Big 12 season with three straight games against ranked league opponents. The Buffaloes, who were ranked themselves between No. 14-21 during that stretch, lost all three of those matchups, falling to No. 3 Oklahoma, No. 21/20 Texas and No. 14/18 Kansas State. That stretch was the final three games of a five-game span against ranked opponents as the Buffaloes ended nonconference play with a loss at No. 20 Florida and win over No. 21/22 LSU. CU's upcoming four straight games against ranked teams would be the most since that same five-game stretch during the 2001-02 season. The Buffaloes would go on to play a school record 16 games against ranked teams that season, winning six. CU's tough schedule paid dividens that season as the Buffaloes won 14 of their final 16 games, advancing to the 2002 Elite Eight.
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 begins. After starting the season by hitting just 12 of her first 49 3-point attempts (.245), she has rebounded to hit 18-of-31 (.581) over the last five games. Smith had a career night in terms of accuracy in the win over Hawaii hitting 6-of-7 from 3-point range en route to a season-high 23 points. She ranks seventh on CU's career list for 3-point field goals made (142) and attempted (389). Smith needs eight 3-pointers to move into CU's career top five.
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.
WEATHER BITES BOTH BUFFS & BEARS: Colorado and Baylor both had games cancelled due to weather issues during the non conference season, although the teams' experiences were drastically different.
Colorado's home 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.
Baylor on the other hand was the team caught out in the cold. After defeating Oregon in Eugene on Dec. 20, the Lady Bears were supposed to travel and play California two days later. Unfortunately, due to icy conditions the Bears' were stranded in Portland and were not able to make the trip to Berkeley.
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. Eight of CU's opponents are ranked in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll and seven are ranked in the Associated Press lineup (Iowa State is second among teams receiving votes) -- Texas A&M, Baylor and Oklahoma are in the top 10 of both while Texas joins the trio in the AP Top 10.
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 will play its first Big 12 road game of the season, taking on No. 21 Oklahoma State on Saturday, Jan. 14, at 6 p.m. MST in Stillwater, Okla.