Buffs to rely on Bjorklund this season

Updated: November 12, 2003, 9:36 AM ET
Associated Press

BOULDER, Colo. -- No deception here. Tera Bjorklund is one of the nation's top centers, and she's being counted on to carry the Colorado women's basketball team to a fourth straight NCAA Tournament appearance.

"I think everybody in the country knows that if you're going to stop Colorado, you'd better figure out a way to stop Tera Bjorklund,'' coach Ceal Barry said. "Everybody knows that about us.''

The 6-foot-5 Bjorklund averaged 18.5 points and 6.8 rebounds for the Buffaloes last season, when they went 24-8 and advanced to the NCAA regional semifinal.

Colorado lost two starters off that team -- Sabrina Scott and Linda Lappe -- but shooting guard Kate Fagan and point guard Maria Billingsley return along with Bjorklund.

Forward Randie Wirt, a solid bench player who averaged 4.6 points and 4.1 rebounds last season, also returns, joining Veronica Johns-Richardson and Amber Metoyer. The 6-2 Wirt and the 5-9 Johns-Richardson likely will be the other starters this year.

The nucleus is solid, but Barry has some concerns about Colorado's reserves.

"There are the old reliables -- Randie, Kate and Tera,'' Barry said. "I know what I'm going to get from them night in and night out. Then there's a ton of question marks. But that's what's exciting about college coaching.''

Barry has been impressed with the play of sophomore Whitney Law and freshmen Emily Waner and Anna Nedovic.

The 5-10 Metoyer, who played well as a freshman last season, gives the Buffs some flexibility and might even play at center when Bjorklund is out of the game.

"I put Amber in the post the other day and really liked her in there,'' Barry said. "She played the post quite a bit in high school. She gives us a different look. We've never really run the triangle with a shorter, quicker post player.''

Because the Buffs are deep at guard, Barry also is experimenting with moving the 5-9 Fagan and the 5-11 Law into the frontcourt.

"That's kind of the beauty of the offense we run,'' Barry said.

Barry says her team is "definitely quicker than we've been the last two years,'' but she's concerned about poor shooting and turnovers in practice.

An even bigger concern is making sure the Buffs get the ball to Bjorklund.

"Losing Sabrina and Linda is like losing a little bit of Tera because they got her the ball,'' Barry said. "A post player can be as talented as you want, but if you're not getting the ball when you're open, it makes it tough.

"Our freshmen and sophomores are learning that it's important to be able to get the ball into your post player.''


Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press

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