The Buffs women are working with a small squad, but they expect to pull out a win against the DU Pioneers.
Having won their first home game against Regis on Nov. 12 with a score of 76-38, the women are preparing for their first road game of the season, Tuesday night at Denver University’s Magness Arena.
“There’s a level of nervousness going into every game,” said Head Coach Linda Lappe, who made her CU coaching debut in the game against Regis.
Lappe said coaches “deal with nerves and motivate the players without overwhelming them.”
One of the biggest challenges the Buffs will face early in the season is performing with a small team.
Senior guard Chelsea Dale is taking the fall semester off for academic reasons, while sophomore guard/forward Brenna Malcolm-Peck is off the court due to a hyper-extended left knee.
On Nov. 12, top freshman recruit Shae Kelley also left the lineup. Kelley told Lappe she would no longer be playing basketball for CU due to personal reasons.
Lappe said the diminished roster will not necessarily put the team at a disadvantage, but the freshmen will certainly have to step up.
“They will have to be on the fast track as far as learning offenses and defenses and making the transition from high school to college,” Lappe said.
Sophomore guard Chucky Jeffery, who earned her second career double-double during the Regis game with 13 points and 12 rebounds, said the extra pressure put on the freshmen early in the season will make them better prepared for conference games later on.
“[They’re] all getting a lot of minutes now, so they won’t be nervous when conference comes,” Jeffery said. “It’s a good thing we’re all in shape.”
A small team is not the only challenge the women’s team will face against Denver, though.
Although Colorado won 84-57 the last time the two teams matched up in December 2009, the Pioneers’ starting squad includes four returning varsity players.
Junior forward Kaetlyn Murdoch, who was the leading scorer in DU’s last game against Wyoming, will be a threat on offense.
Senior forward Brittany Spears, who led the team in scoring with 20 points against Regis, said one of the Buffs’ weaknesses has been offensive turnovers.
“This week, there’s been an emphasis on not making compound mistakes,” Spears said.
Another focus for the team is improving their attack.
“We’ve been working on executing the offense,” Jeffery said. “DU runs the same defense as Regis, and we know that the defense drives the offense.”
Both Spears and Jeffery will act as role models for some of the inexperienced athletes on the team as they head into their first away game.
“The players on the team look up to me,” Jeffrey said. “I’m already attached to the freshman from their visits. I’m like a big sister.”
Spears said she shares a similar mentality.
“I’m a senior now, so I have to be positive,” she said. “We have more a positive energy [than last year], and we play off each other’s energy.”
Lappe also aspires for some long-term goals for the rest of the season.
“[We’ll work on] staying out of foul trouble, being in position on D, making sure we’re the aggressors and not getting out-hustled,” she said.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Caryn Maconi at Caryn.email@example.com.