Way back in October, when practices first started, the Colorado women's basketball team talked about its depth and the role it could play in the team's success.

Since then, CU head coach Linda Lappe and her staff have done a great job in cultivating that depth in preparation for the postseason. Because of that, the No. 18 Buffaloes (24-5) could be a real factor in the Pac-12 Tournament this week at Seattle's KeyArena.

The Buffs get a first-round bye on Thursday and will play either Washington (19-10) or Oregon (4-26) in Friday's quarterfinals. That game will start at 9:30 p.m. MST.

"We expect a lot of players to be able to play significant minutes for us throughout the next week hopefully," Lappe said. "Everybody has done their work and done their jobs up until this point and now we need everybody to come through to their best. That's what is fun about this time of year is that everybody is ready to do that."

Along with third-seeded UCLA, the fourth-seeded Buffs may have the deepest rotation in the conference. During the regular season, nine players averaged at least 13.9 minutes per game. Senior Meagan Malcolm-Peck and freshman Ky Weston both averaged nearly 10 minutes per game.

To win the Pac-12 Tournament title, the Buffs will need to win three games in three days, which places great importance on that depth.

"We're really fortunate to have such a deep bench that people can come in and play as many minutes as coach Lappe needs them to play," said Jasmine Sborov, who averages 17.7 minutes per game. "We're hoping to play three games in three days, so we're really going to need every ounce of energy that everybody has, so every second on the floor really matters."

CU's bench players don't just rack up the minutes; they also contribute in significant ways.

"You always know the person who is coming in, whether it's for you or whether they're going to be playing next to you, you have complete confidence in every player on our team," sophomore Lexy Kresl said. "There's no drop-off with our substitutions."

From the start of the year, Lappe has known the importance of having fresh legs on her players. It has helped the Buffs get to 24 wins to this point, and will be crucial in adding to that total.

"It wasn't necessarily by design as much as it was we have a lot of players that have earned a lot of playing time," Lappe said. "This year, it's been a lot of different players at a lot of different times. That's been fun."

CU could see the benefit of its depth right away on Friday night. The Buffs will face an opponent that had to play the night before. Lappe said her team can't get too confident in that aspect of the matchup, however.

"It will be (important), but it doesn't mean you win the game," Lappe said. "You still have to execute. You don't just win because you feel good. You've got to make sure we use that to our advantage. That's what we've worked so hard for. But understand we still have to go out and play hard.

"I hope what it's going to allow us to do is to play even harder than we have even the past few games."

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