During her brief coaching career, Colorado women's basketball coach Linda Lappe has been through a lot of situations with her teams.

She's in a new one this week, though. After Saturday's 61-47 loss to Stanford in the Pac-12 Tournament semifinals, Lappe's Buffaloes are in the midst of a 14-day layoff before the start of the NCAA Tournament, on March 23.

"It is new territory," said Lappe, whose 19th-ranked Buffaloes (25-6) are a virtual lock to be included in the 64-team NCAA Tournament field, which will be announced on Monday night. "I've never been a part of something like this where you've had so much time off in the middle of the season. A lot of it has been just asking other coaches that have done this before, just trying to get what they do."

Lappe went straight to the top of the rankings to get some advice. Not the women's rankings, but the men's. Mark Few, the head coach of the top-ranked Gonzaga men's team, gave Lappe some tips on how to get her team through the two-week break.

"(CU men's coach Tad Boyle) knows Mark well," Lappe said. "I got his contact information and he was gracious enough to answer my call and give me some insight as to what they do, because they've done it every year. One thing I always respect about Gonzaga's men, they're always ready in the NCAA Tournament. He's done it for a lot of years and kind of knows what works and what doesn't."


Advertisement

"He said it's about getting the little bit extra out of them. We'll be trying to keep getting better, even during this time. I think you have to. The most important game is the next one, so it's going to be important that we play our best from here on out. Continuing to keep the edge, but also making sure that we don't wear them down."

The CU coaches and players took three days off from Sunday to Tuesday and will get back at it Wednesday. Lappe said the team will practice Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday, while taking Saturday and Monday off.

By Monday night, they'll know the identity of their next opponent and can begin preparation for that game.

"I'm sure I'm going to learn something from this, but I think as long as we keep practicing hard when we practice and making sure that we're taking some days off, at this point in the season you're not going to get out of shape," Lappe said.

The coaches have needed the break as much as the players. They have had precious few moments to themselves this season, but have taken some time off the past few days.

Lappe used part of her break to relish the success of her team to this point.

CU has its first 25-win season since 1995-96; the Buffs had more conference wins (13) than in any season since going 14-0 during Big Eight play in 1994-95; they defeated then-No. 8 Louisville on Dec. 14; they are one of just seven teams in the country to go unbeaten against unranked opponents (24-0).

"That's what the last couple of days have been good for," Lappe said of reflecting back on the season. "That's part of your mental rest is just to be able to enjoy all the hard work you've put in and all the hard work your players and staff and support staff have put in since August when we got here.

"That is the neat thing, to understand it takes a special team to get into the NCAA Tournament and we have a really special team in a lot of different ways."

Going dancing

Lappe is now confidently talking about CU as an NCAA Tournament team, and she should. At No. 19 in both polls and having the No. 25 RPI ranking, it would be a shock if the Buffs weren't invited to The Dance.

The latest Bracketology by ESPN's Charlie Creme has CU has a No. 5 seed.

"I feel confident that we've done enough to get into the tournament for sure," Lappe said. "Now it's going to be a matter of what seed we are. To us, it doesn't matter. We're going to be happy. It's been a long time since the program has been in the NCAA Tournament. We have to make sure we're excited about whoever we play and whatever region we're in. It's kind of cool to think about having a chance to be in again."

Notable

CU has not been to the NCAA Tournament since 2004. ... Creme's bracket has CU facing San Diego State in the first round, with No. 18 Dayton facing Pacific in the other game. CU defeated San Diego State on Nov. 24 in Boulder. ... The Buffs will host three other teams during the first two rounds, on March 23 and 25. ... This will be the 10th time in 13 NCAA trips that CU will start the tournament at home. The Buffs are 12-3 in NCAA games at home (12-1 since 1993). They are 5-9 away from Boulder.

Follow Brian on Twitter:

@BrianHowell33.