| MESSAGE BOARD
RECORD: 22 - 8
REGION: East SEED: 6
COACH: Ceal Barry CONFERENCE: Pac-12
Road to the Final Four ...................................................................................
A model of consistency, the Buffs have finished 11-5 in the Big 12 for four consecutive years. Seniors Tera Bjorklund, Randie Wirt and Kate Fagan have been there for that run and are the leaders this season. Bjorklund is one of those rare "pure centers'' and she's been a pretty consistent scoring presence all her career. Wirt was the most improved player in the Big 12 this season and really helped Bjorklund inside, with both rebounding and a good face-up game. But the Buffaloes were killed on the boards by Oklahoma in their Big 12 quarterfinal loss, and they'll have to be a more high-energy team in that regard to make a successful NCAA run.
|PLAYER TO WATCH|
The 6-foot-5 senior center, a two-time All-Big 12 first-team selection, ranks second on Colorado's career scoring chart with 1,843 points. Bjorklund, one of only three Buffs in program history to earn all-league first-team honors in more than one season, ranked second in the Big 12 in scoring this season (18.3 points) while also grabbing a career-best 7.3 boards per game. She's also tops in the classroom, too, and is a three-time Academic All-Big 12 award winner to go along with being a finalist for all three major national player of the year honors (Wade Trophy, Naismith and Wooden). Bjorklund, however, will be eager to back it all up when the NCAA Tournament commences. Last time out, she was just 3-for-12 for 15 points -- despite a two-point effort in the first half -- as the Buffs lost in the Big 12 quarterfinals.
ANALYSIS BY ESPN'S STACEY DALES-SCHUMAN
Once again, Ceal Barry has done a commendable job at maximizing her talent. And the evolution of this year's Buffalo squad has been a pleasant surprise. After losing key components Sabrina Scott and Linda Lappe to graduation, there was some question as to where Colorado might fall in the grueling Big 12 mix. As it turns out, the Buffs have faired just fine.
While their season might be a surprise to some, the Buffs are not at all surprised by the leadership and consistency of 6-foot-5 senior center Tera Bjorkland. She sits at the top of the conference in both scoring and rebounding, but wasn't even included on the All-Big 12 preseason first team. Bjorkland is a handful for any foe -- she can run the floor, withstand constant physical beating and score with precision. Most noteworthy however, is her exemplary level of fitness -- she's about the most well-conditioned post player you'll find.
It's no secret that Bjorkland magnetizes attention, and that's exactly what makes Colorado so dangerous. While opposing defenses are forced to pay serious attention to Bjorkland inside, foes must also respect Colorado's accurate 3-point bombers.
We knew Kate Fagan could streamline the trey, but we didn't know that freshman guard Emily Waner would be such a difference-maker, too. Though not gifted with lightning-quick speed, when at their best, the Buffalo guards demand respect on the perimeter, especially moving and cutting in the infamous triangle offense.
If, however, Colorado is going to be successful in the NCAA Tournament, it needs more offensive consistency from the Buffs' guard play in terms of attacking off the dribble and creating increased scoring options.
Besides hitting shots and showcasing the sound help-defense we have come to expect from Colorado, the Buffs must also have continued contributions from senior power forward Randie Wirt. She is perhaps the team's most improved player and her mid-range game is essential to how Colorado fairs in the NCAA tourney.
Ultimately, Colorado must have balanced scoring and the Buffs must perform well defensively against potentially faster and more athletic teams.
It's all about basketball intelligence for Ceal Barry and the Buffs. Fortunately, that's exactly what Barry is known for.