Buffs Have High Expectations for Upcoming Season
BOULDER—Colorado women's basketball returned to the court last week, officially starting the 2021-22 season. The Buffaloes finished the 2020-21 season with their best Pac-12 record since the 2012-13 season and look to continue the upward trend.
Fresh off an anything but normal 12-win season and a trip to the quarterfinals of the WNIT, head coach JR Payne and company are feeling the potential for greatness in just a few practices.
"I think we have the potential to be a really good basketball team," Payne explained. "We have players that can shoot the ball. We have a lot of veterans and people who were injured that are now healthy. There's a lot of potential in this group. It's our job to make sure that we're maximizing our potential daily. If we can do that, we have a chance to be really good. I strongly feel that we're all committed to doing that."
Colorado is led by Mya Hollingshed who is returning for a fifth and final season in Boulder. The 2021 All-Pac-12 selection posted a career-high 15.4 points per game last season and was second in the Pac-12 with a career-best 7.8 rebounds per game.
Along with Hollingshed the Buffs have a senior class that includes career Buffs Aubrey Knight, Peanut Tuitele and Lesila Finau. Senior Tayanna Jones also returns for her second season at CU, after transferring from Georgetown.
The senior leadership on this season's team has experienced both the highs and the lows in the process of establishing and growing the Buffs' program. Colorado went from two Pac-12 conference wins in the 2018-19 season to an even .500 record (8-8) in the shortened 2020-21 season a year ago.
"It's very different from when I first got here," Finau explained. "I didn't know what to expect as a freshman. It's just a whole different culture. Peanut, all the seniors and I have been trying to build this culture. I feel like we know that we can win now. We can go far, so everyone is taking it [practice] seriously right now."
Monday was just the team's fourth official practice, but the team has been working throughout the summer. Coach Payne has been encouraged from the early returns.
"We have great chemistry in our locker room," Payne noted. "We have a lot of selfless teammates. We have people that are willing to coach each other. People that are willing to be coached. I think those are sort of the main ingredients to seeing success this year."
Junior Jaylyn Sherrod is back to full strength for the Buffs after playing in just 12 games last season. Sophomore Frida Formann, who led the Pac-12 with 2.7 3-point field goals per game last season, will look to build upon her rookie season. The Buffs also landed a pair of Washington transfers in junior Quay Miller and sophomore Tameiya Sadler. Sophomore Maura Singer has been a full participant this fall and hopes to get her first action as a Buff in the upcoming season, along with redshirt freshman Sophie Gerber.
Sophomore Kylee Blacksten played in 20 games and earned one start in her first year. Sophomore Allysa Lafontaine also saw action in seven games last season.
The Buffs also added the 2021 Sports in Kansas 6A Player of the Year in freshman Kennedy Taylor and the Colorado 5A Player of the Year Kindyll Wetta.
CU will get back on the court on Nov. 1 hosting Colorado Mines in exhibition play. The Buffs will start the year on the road against Oklahoma State on Nov. 10.