3:06 pm - Thursday September 26, 3946

Brooks: CU Women Open With KU In NCAA Tourney

 The Colorado women’s basketball team took an epic step forward this season, but the NCAA Tournament brings a trip back in time – at least in terms of the Buffaloes’ first opponent.

 

CU is matched against former Big Eight/12 Conference foe Kansas in its first game on Saturday, approximately 4:40 p.m., at the Coors Events Center. The Buffs (25-6) are a fifth seed, the Jayhawks (18-13) a 12th seed. A win would send CU against the winner of Saturday’s No. 4 South Carolina vs. No. 13 South Dakota on Monday night, at 7:30 p.m., at the CEC. South Carolina and South Dakota State will tip at 2:10 p.m. on Saturday at Coors.

 

“I’m excited to play a Big 12 opponent; we spent a lot of years in the Big 12 and the Big Eight,” said coach Linda Lappe, who in her third season guided the Buffs to their first NCAA Tournament appearance 2004 and the 13th in school history.

 

Lappe initially believed another former Big 8/12 conference foe – Nebraska – might wind up matched against her team. She said she was “excited for that opportunity (but) Kansas is going to be a tough opponent; I think anybody who makes it into the NCAA is going to be high level competition.”

 

During their final years in the Big 12, the Jayhawks had the Buffs’ number – a 7-1 record against them in their last eight meetings. In Lappe’s first season (2010-11) at CU, KU won all three games (two regular season, one postseason tournament).

 

CU senior guard Chucky Jeffery can recall KU’s domination before the Buffs said goodbye and headed for the Pac-12.

 

“Oh yeah, we remember,” Jeffery said at a Selection Show gathering Monday afternoon. “As soon as our name and Kansas came up on the screen, we all looked at each other like, ‘This is our time right here’. So we’re excited to have them come and play on our home floor, it’s definitely going to be a good game.

 

“I think, like coach Lappe said, we are a better team on our home floor so they (Kansas) can bring as many fans as they need, but I think we are going to have a pretty good turnout and play well.”

 

The Buffs were one of four Pac-12 teams to make the NCAA Tournament, joining Stanford, California and UCLA. Those teams were responsible for CU’s five conference losses, with the Cardinal ousting the Buffs from the league’s postseason tournament. Stanford is a No. 1 seed, Cal a No. 2 and UCLA a No. 3.

 

Lappe said her team’s seeding in the 64-team field was near what she anticipated: “We were expecting a five or six, right in that area, so we’re happy with that. The committee took a look at what we did all season long and I felt like that was a great seed with the wins we were able to get and having no bad losses.

 

“I know the committee takes a lot of things into consideration so you never quite know where you are going to be, but we are happy with that seed. It shows the committee gives us a lot of respect.”

 

The Buffs’ 25 wins are the women’s program’s most since the 1995-96 team finished 26-9. CU’s all-time NCAA Tournament record is 17-12, which includes an 8-2 mark in first-round games (9-3 in opening games, reflecting two first-round byes).

 

When Boulder was chosen for a first-round site, CU’s goal was to be included in the four-team field. Lappe called playing at the CEC, where her team was 15-0 this season, “a huge advantage; it’s a place we’ve had success all year, we’ve had great fan support. Being able to have our fans come out and support us, I think it is going to be one of the best first and second round games in terms of attendance that you are going to find out there.

 

“I think having that support always helps you, but you can’t take that for granted, you still have to come out and you still have to play well. But to be able to sleep in our own beds and to be in our comfort zones and not have to travel will be something that really helps us out, and obviously I like the altitude as well.”

 

By the time they tip off in Saturday’s first game, the Buffs will be on the last day of a 14-day break. They haven’t played since March 9, when they lost 61-47 to Stanford in the semifinals of the Pac-12 tournament in Seattle.

 

Lappe said the layoff can be viewed in “a few different ways. We’ve used it as some time to get some rest, and get some time away, so I think that is going to be very beneficial for us. I think we feel good, our legs are going to feel great. Obviously there’s that period of time if you have a long layoff where you haven’t competed, but we have practiced hard, we have a great group of practice guys that come in everyday and help us out.

 

“The most important part is what we do this week. This week will be like any normal week, we have four days to practice and then we will be getting ready to play on Saturday, so it’s a pretty typical week in terms of what were used to in the Pac-12.”

 

Jeffery, the team’s leading scorer (13.9 ppg) and rebounder (8.3 rpg), will close out her home career with an NCAA appearance she’s dreamed of.

 

“It means a lot,” she said. “It just shows how far we have come as a program, and how great the coaches have been at turning it around. And it’s all a tribute to my team, we have good players and we play together and we’ve had a great season. It’s just really satisfying to go out as a senior like this, and I just want to thank my teammates and my coaches for that.”

 

In the days preceding Monday’s Selection Show, Jeffery and the Buffs engaged in their own “bracketology” and tried to determine who they might play and the other two teams that would land at the CEC.

 

“We’ve been trying to figure that out for a long time, looking at the brackets and stuff like that, but you can’t really know,” she said. “We were way off (on their projections), we thought we were going to be up with Notre Dame, but we were off. We’re excited though.”

 

If the Buffs win their two home games, the Irish still could be in their future. Notre Dame is the No. 1 seed in the Norfolk bracket but plays its opening games in Iowa City. CU and Notre Dame would play in a Sweet 16 game on March 30.

 

The Buffs reaching the NCAA Tournament has caused a quandary for the family of CU redshirt freshman forward Arielle Roberson. Her brother, Andre, is a junior forward on the CU men’s team, which plays Illinois Friday in Austin, Texas, in the men’s tournament.

 

In high school in San Antonio, Arielle said she and Andre competed in the playoffs at the same time, creating a similar dilemma in the Roberson family. She called this week’s NCAA play at different sites “a great opportunity for both (of us), but it’s another competition in the family – who’s coming to who’s game.”

 

Maybe this is what they can hope for: Arielle and the CU women win two in Boulder and advance to Norfolk, Va.; Andre and the CU men win two in Austin and advance to Washington, D.C. That’s close enough for a close family to commute.

Press Conference Quotes

University of Colorado Head Coach Linda Lappe

General
“Well on behalf of our team, our coaching staff, and all of our support staff, we are extremely thrilled to be to the NCAA tournament, it’s been a few years and were very proud of the work that our players have been able to do all season long in allowing us to have the opportunity today to see our name up on the screen and to be included in a really fantastic tournament. We’re just so excited to be able to host, and I would like to thank our administration and [athletic director] Mike Bohn in particular for putting out the bid to host two years ago and having confidence in our team that at this point we had a great shot to be included in that, and I would like everybody to give a round of applause for the administration and Mike Bohn. When we started the season, we talked about making sure that we didn’t watch four other teams play in our gym (during the NCAA Tournament), so we are happy that we get to be one of those four teams. It doesn’t go without saying that we put in a lot of hard work. We started at the end of last season, the day after last season was over we started preparing for this moment. I can’t be happier for our seniors to have this opportunity to play in the NCAA Tournament, and it is not something they will ever forget. To be included as one of the best teams in CU history is pretty phenomenal. The work that they have done from when they got here as freshmen until now as seniors has meant a lot to our program and they are going to leave a lasting legacy. And then for all of the rest of our players being able to come in and understand what it takes to be one of the best teams in the country is very admirable, and they had to trust a lot in terms of what our staff was telling them and what it was going to take to do that. So, I want thank our players for all the hard work they have put in all season from the end of last season as soon as that last game was over until now. It’s been a lot of sweat and hard work on the Coors Events Center, on the track, outside on the football field, or wherever. Wherever we could run, we were running. They have worked extremely hard for this.”

On The Matchup With Kansas
I’m excited to play a Big 12 opponent, we spent a lot of years in the Big 12 and the Big Eight. I thought it might be Nebraska originally and was excited for that opportunity. Kansas is going to be a tough opponent; I think anybody who makes it into the NCAA is going to be high level competition. But, we’re excited for it, we haven’t played a Big 12 opponent in a couple years, we did play Oklahoma State last year, but it will be good to play the Jayhawks, I’m glad we have them in are arena, and we’ll get our players prepared.”

On Playing At Home      
“It’s a huge advantage, it’s a place we’ve had success all year, we’ve had great fan support. Being able to have our fans come out and support us, I think it is going to be one of the best first and second round games in terms of attendance that you are going to find out there. I think having that support always helps you, but you can’t take that for granted, you still have to come out and you still have to play well. But to be able to sleep in our own beds and to be in our comfort zones and not have to travel will be something that really helps us out, and obviously I like the altitude as well.”

On Having A Long Layoff            
“I think you can look at it a few different ways. We’ve used it as some time to get some rest, and get some time away, so I think that is going to be very beneficial for us. I think we feel good, our legs are going to feel great. Obviously there’s that period of time if you have a long layoff where you haven’t competed, but we have practiced hard, we have a great group of practice guys that come in everyday and help us out. The most important part is what we do this week. This week will be like any normal week, we have four days to practice and then we will be getting ready to play on Saturday, so it’s a pretty typical week in terms of what were used to in the Pac-12.”

On Their Seeding             
“We were expecting a five or six, right in that area so we’re happy with that. The committee took a look at what we did all season long and I felt like that was a great seed with the wins we were able to get and having no bad losses. I know the committee takes a lot of things into consideration so you never quite know where you are going to be, but we are happy with that seed. It shows the committee gives us a lot of respect…I think there was a little bit of angst, but you never know, I still figured we would be in that five to six area.”

On Preparing The Team              
I think it’s a process, this is the fun day and then right after this our staff will get to working and scout the three opponents that will come here. But after this, it’s back to normal, this is a very typical week and we’re going to have practice like we have had for six straight months. Our players will know what to expect, they are going to have the tendency to get really amped up with a lot of emotion and a lot of energy, and some of that is ok but in the end you have to look at this like you would any other game. It’s an important game, we know that, but at the same time we can’t do too much, you can’t over think or over prepare, you just have to do what we have been doing for a really long time. That is the best way I know how to go about this whole process, is just do what you’ve been doing, we talked about you have to dance with what brought yah, and that’s exactly what we’ll do and our team will be ready to go.”

On Playing On Such A Big Stage               
“We have talked about that. We’re representing ourselves, we’re representing the University of Colorado, and we’re representing the Pac-12. I think the Pac-12, especially with UCLA, Colorado, Stanford, and Cal, those are four really good teams and we have to make sure that we all do our part and getting people to recognize what this conference is made of, maybe even more than they already do. I feel like the committee really respected the Pac-12, we all got really good seeds, we are in great positions, everyone of else and now it’s just about going out and proving that we deserve to be in this tournament just like everybody else.”

 

Univeristy of Colorado Student-Athletes

Senior, Guard, Chucky Jeffery

On Her Emotions
“We are all just excited and it’s great we have this opportunity.”

On Trying To Figure Out Who They Were Going To Play
“We’ve been trying to figure that out for a long time, looking at the brackets and stuff like that, but you can’t really know. We were way off (on their projections), We’re excited though.”

On Losing To Kansas In The Past            
“Oh yeah, we remember. As soon as our name and Kansas came up on the screen, we all looked at each other like ‘this is our time right here’. So we’re excited to have them come and play on our home floor, it’s definitely going to be a good game. I think, like coach Lappe said, we are a better team on our home floor so they (Kansas) can bring as many fans as they need, but I think we are going to have a pretty good turnout and play well.”

On Finishing Her Career In The NCAA Tournament       
“It means a lot, it just shows how far we have come as a program, and how great the coaches have been at turning it around. And it’s all a tribute to my team, we have good players and we play together and we’ve had a great season. It’s just really satisfying to go out as a senior like this, and I just want to thank my teammates and my coaches for that.”

 

Freshman, Forward, Arielle Roberson

On Her Emotions
“We’re all really excited, I don’t think we were too nervous, once we finally saw our names on the big screen reality set in and we know we are in. It is just a special moment for all of us, especially with our three seniors leaving this year. I think the best word to describe it, is there is no word, I really can’t describe it.”

On Both Her and Her Brother Playing In the NCAA Tournament             
“I don’t think it is anything we have talked about. In high school we both played in the playoffs during the same time, but I think this is definitely a great experience, and it’s a great opportunity for both, but it’s another competition in the family; who is coming to who’s game, so that’s what we’re talking about.”

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