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Buffs to rely on Bjorklund this season

11/12/2003 - Colorado Buffaloes

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.''