CU women's hoops preview
TODAY: The Arizona Wildcats (4-13, 0-6) at Colorado Buffaloes (11-6, 1-5) in a 7 p.m. game at the Coors Events Center.
TV — No television. Free video at http://pac-12.com/videos/university-colorado. Radio — KKZN (760 AM), with Mike Rice on play-by-play and Carol Callan providing color commentary.
STORYLINES: The Buffs have lost four straight and six of the past eight. ... CU is 0-6 this season when being outrebounded and 11-0 when winning the rebounding effort. ... The Buffs have fallen to 79th in the nation in scoring defense allowing 62.6 points per game. ... Texas Tech is the only team from a major conference Arizona has beaten this season. ... Nine of the Wildcats' 13 losses have been by single-digit margins and two came in overtime. ... Arizona is the lowest scoring team in the Pac-12 at 60.4 points per game.
KEY STAT: Both teams are averaging 16 turnovers a game. The team that takes care of the ball better might be best positioned to win this one.
COACHES: Linda Lappe is 75-43 in her fourth season at CU and 125-79 as a head coach. Niya Butts is 78-96 in her sixth season at Arizona.
Colorado— G Ashley Wilson, 5-8, Sr. (5.8 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 1.9 apg); G Brittany Wilson, 5-7, Sr., (10.6 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 2.8 apg); G Haley Smith, 6-0, Fr. (1.3 ppg, 1.3 rpg, 0.7 apg); F Arielle Roberson, 6-2, So. (13.7 ppg, 7.9 rpg); F Jen Reese, 6-2, Jr. (12.2 ppg, 5.7 rpg). Arizona — G Candice Warthen, 5-5, Jr. (11.9 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 2.7 apg); G Carissa Crutchfield, 5-8, Sr. (8.2 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 3.4 apg); G Kama Griffitts, 6-0, Sr. (10.4 ppg, 4.4 rpg,); F Breanna Workman, 6-1, Fr. (6.5 ppg, 4.0 rpg); F LaBrittney Jones, 6-1, Fr. (7.3 ppg, 6.1 rpg).
SERIES: CU leads 10-3, including wins in the past seven meetings and all four games since the Buffs joined the Pac-12. Arizona's last win the series came in Tucson in 1988.
UP NEXT: The Buffs will host No. 14 Arizona State at 1 p.m. on Sunday.
Nothing helps a struggling team like seeing an opponent you own next up on the schedule.
The Colorado women's basketball team has lost four in a row and fell out of the top-25 rankings this week after 25 consecutive weeks being ranked. The Buffs clearly have issues to address and some on-court chemistry problems to fix. Fans might expect the players and coach Linda Lappe to be in panic mode considering they harbored hopes of competing for a Pac-12 Conference title this season, but the Buffs are home Friday night for a game against Arizona.
CU hasn't lost to Arizona since 1988 and the Wildcats are winless in conference play. Thus, panic is not a part of the equation in preparing for this one.
CU hasn't won since Jan. 5 at UCLA. It has dropped six of its past eight games. Two of those losses came against teams that played in the Final Four last season and another came against perennial national power Stanford.
But it was a surprise that the Buffs dropped both games last week on a trip to Washington State and Washington. Those are the kinds of games the Buffs have to win if they want to be a factor in the Pac-12 race. This weekend's games against the Wildcats and No. 14 Arizona State are, too.
"We've had three really good days of practice," Lappe said. "We've had specific focal points to get us going in the right direction and we feel the team has responded really well."
Oregon and Arizona are the only teams in the conference with longer losing streaks than the Buffs. Both have lost their first six Pac-12 games and Arizona is the lowest scoring team in the conference, which might be a problem facing the Buffs usually stingy defense.
The Buffs will be focused on tightening up on the defensive end. They have allowed an average of 73.7 points per game during their four-game losing streak.
Rebounding has been another area where the Buffs have taken a step back. They climbed to No. 11 in the polls in late-December and early January by outrebounding all but one of their first 11 opponents. But they have been out-rebounded in five of the past six games, losing all five of the games when they've come on the short side of the rebounding ledger.
"What rebounding shows us is our tenacity, our grit, our fight," Lappe said. "We've been doing a better job boxing out and keeping the offense off the glass but haven't done a good job with us getting offensive rebounds."
Lappe said her program is based on playing stingy defense and rebounding well and when the team doesn't play that was it loses its identity.
Lappe said its no coincidence the Buffs' four-game losing streak has coincided with the loss of junior guard Jasmine Sborov, who is out indefinitely with a broken bone in her right foot.
In her final four games before the injury, Sborov had become one the team's best rebounders, averaging seven per game in that span.
"She also brings a lot of intangibles that you can't really measure or look at a stat sheet for," Lappe said.
Junior forward Jen Reese thrives when the Buffs are in sync, particularly on the offensive end because she is most effective when the offense is running as designed. Reese has been somewhat inconsistent lately offensively, which Lappe said is more of a team problem.
Reese said the Buffs trust each other off the court and need to learn to do a better job trusting each other on the court. Not doing so has led to the losing.
"Hopefully, that changes this weekend," Reese said. "We haven to change it now or I don't know when we're going to. This is our last chance to fix things. I feel like the last three days of practice we have fixed a lot of things.
"We dug ourselves a hole. We're digging out each and every day and I feel like this weekend will help a lot."