When asked what she expects out of herself as a freshman with the Colorado women’s basketball team, Lizzie Holder shrugged her shoulders and laughed.
“I have no idea, honestly,” the 6-foot-1 guard from Stillwater, Minn., said. “Wherever they need me, I’ll be there.”
Like most freshmen in college basketball, Holder is going through the adjustment period from being the star in high school to the newcomer without a defined role.
“It’s definitely been really different – kind of like lower on the food chain,” she said. “It’s been hard, but I think mental toughness has grown immensely since I’ve gotten here.
Holder and the Buffs are in the early stages of preseason practices with the season about a month away. She isn’t surprised by the adjustment she’s going through and that has probably helped her adapt.
At Stillwater, she averaged 14.0 points and 6.5 rebounds as a senior, earning first-team all-conference honors. She was also all-conference in tennis.
CU lost some key players to graduation, but also returns six of the nine players from the regular rotation from last year’s NCAA Tournament team that went 22-9.
Five of the six guards from last year’s rotation are back, so finding playing time won’t be easy for Holder.
“It’s exactly what I expected,” Holder said. “So it was nice coming in and not being super surprised, mostly because I have friends (in college) and I’ve talked to them about what it’s really like. As far as the coaching staff, it’s 100% what I would have expected. They haven’t changed at all from what they were in the recruiting process.”
Head coach JR Payne and her staff were honest with Holder about what this season might be like for her. But, having veterans in front of her doesn’t mean Holder is content with taking a back seat.
Holder has the skills and athleticism to push for playing time and she’s taking coaching lessons to heart.
“Don’t give up on a play, that’s the biggest thing,” Holder said of what she’s learned. “One of the things that (associate head coach Toriano Towns) and JR harp on a lot is to never give up, which I like. Hustle and effort and heart win games.”
In high school, Holder displayed her scoring and rebounding ability, but she knows hustle could be her ticket to playing time this year. She also believes her defense could help the Buffs right away.
“Defense, all around,” she said. “Hustle, effort, diving for loose balls, as well as I like to shoot the 3. Other than that, just, like, positive energy and supporting the team in any way they need, whether that be on the court or off.”
Already, Holder said she has grown mentally and emotionally, and has improved her skills since coming to CU in the summer. Now, she’s eager to get on the “get on the court as much as I can” and contribute to a team aiming for a second consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance.
“When I committed, I had no idea whether (the program) was on the up or not and I just went off of what the girls and what the coaching staff were like, and Boulder,” she said. “Now that we’re winning, it makes it even more fun. I think it brings the team closer, just having that common goal and knowing that we could reach it, because we did last year.”