Buffs Prepare For Tough Big 12 Season

Ron KnabenbauerCorrespondent IJanuary 16, 2009

Don’t think for a moment that the CU women’s basketball team doesn’t know what they’re up against for the next two months as they begin Big 12 conference play. 

“It’s the most amazing conference,” said head coach Kathy McConnell-Miller. “We have some of the most talented coaches, the most versatile players, the best fan support, and it just gets better and better every year because we get the top recruiting classes in the country as well.”

The current Associated Press Top 25 poll shows seven Big 12 teams ranked, with Oklahoma being the highest ranked at No. 3, and Oklahoma State the lowest of the seven ranked at number 22.

Other Big 12 teams that are ranked include Baylor (5), Texas A&M (8), Texas (16), Kansas State (17), and Iowa State (20). 

For the players, that means playing against some of the nation’s best talent every night, but sophomore forward Brittany Spears said that it also means that they have to bring their best game every night as well.

“For me, I have to play hard every night, because we know we’re playing against the best, and we have to bring our best team game,” Spears said.

The Buffs have already faced two Big 12 opponents this season, falling both to number five Baylor (14-1, 2-0 Big 12) 63-50 last Saturday (Jan. 10), and to No. 22 Oklahoma State (12-3, 1-1 Big 12) on Wednesday night 79-43.

However, it was the Baylor game in which the Buffs (8-6, 0-2 Big 12) learned what kind of character they had on the team said senior center Kara Richards.

“What we learned most about our character is that we don’t stop fighting as a team,” Richards said. “We continue to strive no matter if the chips are down or if the chips are high.”

In the Baylor game, the Buffs were only down by two points with close to seven minutes left to play before the visitors from Waco, Texas began to pull away.

However, five of the eight Buffs who played did score at least seven points in the contest.

The Baylor game proved that the Buffs could keep up and have a well-rounded scoring attack against some of college basketball’s best.

Something McConnell-Miller said the team didn’t have last season.

“We’re pretty resilient and we have a very balanced attack,” McConnell-Miller said. “A year ago, you stop one player, you stop Colorado. This year we feel we have more weapons and more efficiency on offense.”

Colorado won’t be able to relax anytime soon, as they head to Austin, Texas to take on the No. 16 Longhorns (13-3, 1-1 Big 12) on Saturday before hosting No. 3 Oklahoma (13-2, 2-0) next Wednesday (Jan. 21) at the Coors Events Center.

However, for the veterans like Richards, they know anything can happen during Big 12 season.

“Anything can happen,” Richards said. “When you got a team down, you need to stay on top, and when you’re down, you keep fighting because there may be a time when the opposing team may mentally make a bad decision and you can capitalize.”