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CU Buffs women back to work, prepping for NCAA tourney

Off week gives Colorado chance to rest, get healthy

Stanford’s Haley Jones tries to get a pass around Colorado’s Quay Miller during the semifinals of the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas. (Al Powers/Powers Imagery)
Stanford’s Haley Jones tries to get a pass around Colorado’s Quay Miller during the semifinals of the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas. (Al Powers/Powers Imagery)
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Around the country, there are numerous college basketball teams fighting for their postseason lives in conference tournaments.

The Colorado women are taking advantage of some rest this week.

CU (22-8) got back to work Wednesday as it prepares for the upcoming NCAA Tournament. The Buffs haven’t played since a 71-45 loss to Stanford in the Pac-12 Tournament semifinals on Friday in Las Vegas, and they won’t play again until March 18 or 19.

“I think that it’s always good to have a break mentally and physically because the season can take a toll on your body and your mind,” Buffs center Quay Miller said. “So being able to have those few days was relaxing. I could’ve went for a day or two more, but you never want to really stop the grind, especially if you want to make big runs in a tournament. You can’t take too many days off.”

The break is much needed for CU, which is anticipating its first NCAA Tournament invitation since 2013. The 68-team field will be set on Sunday.

In addition to the usual bumps and bruises that come from a 30-game season, the Buffs lost guards Tameiya Sadler and Sila Finau to injuries during the conference tournament, so time off is giving CU a chance to get healthy.

“That’s a lot of minutes at the same position that all of a sudden are empty or needed to replace,” CU head coach JR Payne said.

CU played its last two games without Sadler, who was taken off the court on a stretcher late in a 64-52 win against Washington on March 2. She was diagnosed with a spinal concussion and spent her last three nights in Las Vegas in the hospital.

Payne said the Buffs are hopeful that Sadler, a sophomore who started her last 12 games, can return for the NCAA Tournament.

“She’s progressing,” Payne said. “She’s been on the underwater treadmill. It’s just sort of a daily (progress) … as with an ankle sprain, you do a little bit more each day. She’ll meet with our doctors in the coming days and kind of see where she is and they can read the scans that were done in Vegas and just keep going from there.”

Finau, meanwhile, will be back, barring any setbacks. She had a significant ankle sprain in the loss to Stanford.

“Sila’s going to be fine,” Payne said. “It was a really bad ankle sprain. She’s just everyday rehabbing, progressing to get the swelling out, get the mobility back. She’ll be back in a few days.”

Finau has started all 30 games and provides solid perimeter defense, scoring punch and leadership.

“Luckily that brings back more experience and depth at that position,” Payne said of Finau returning. “But, definitely, it was difficult in the moment (during the conference tournament), especially when it was your third game in three days.”

After that stretch, the Buffs are now enjoying some rest. And, while the NCAA Tournament spot won’t be official until Sunday,  Payne isn’t worried about the Buffs’ chances.

“I feel like we’re in,” Payne said. “We’ve won eight of our last 10 games, our only losses were to No. 2 in the country (Stanford), who is rolling everyone that comes in their path.”

CU, which is at No. 29 in the NET rankings, was projected as a No. 10 seed by ESPN bracket expert Charlie Creme on Wednesday.

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