CU women's basketball preview: Loyola Marymount

MATCHUP: Loyola Marymount Lions (7-24 last year) at Colorado Buffaloes (15-17 last year).

GAME TIME: Saturday, 2 p.m., at Coors Events Center in Boulder .

BROADCAST: Radio — 760 AM.

COACHES: Colorado — Linda Lappe, sixth year (98-69; 148-105 career); Loyola Marymount — Charity Elliott, fourth season (29-63; 211-193 career).

LEADERS (top returners from 2014-15): Colorado — Scoring: F Jamee Swan, Sr., 13.2 ppg; Rebounding - Swan, 7.9 rpg; Assists - Swan, 1.9 apg. LMU — Scoring: G Leslie Lopez-Wood, Jr., 13.5 ppg; Rebounding - G/F Sophie Taylor, Sr., 6.2 rpg; Assists - Lopez-Wood, 1.6 apg.

NOTABLE: CU is 28-0 all-time in home openers. ... The Buffs are 48-9 in regular season nonconference games under Lappe ... LMU went 1-13 on the road last season, losing its first 13. ... Fans can attend the game for just $1. Tickets can be purchased at the game or at Cubuffs.com/tickets.

After a disappointing 2014-15 season, the Colorado women's basketball team turned the page quickly.

The Buffaloes have had to wait eight months to start the next chapter, though.

On Saturday, CU will open its season by hosting Loyola Marymount at Coors Events Center.


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"We're ready to play a real game," said sixth-year head coach Linda Lappe. "We've been hard at work, really all summer, preseason and now five weeks of practice. It's a long time to practice without a game."

A loss to Cal in the Pac-12 tournament semifinals on March 7 put an end to CU's disappointing 15-17 season. It's been an offseason of change since then, as the Buffs said goodbye to five players and welcomed five newcomers.

These Buffs are sure to look different, and they're eager to see exactly how they look against the competition.

"This game will really tell," sophomore point guard Brecca Thomas said. "You'll get to see what the season is going to become. This game, I think you'll definitely see a style of play that is actually incorporated in our game plan."

That's the hope, anyway. Lappe does expect some growing pains.

She has just 10 players available to her this year, including three true freshmen and two sophomores with a combined four starts (all by Thomas) under their belts.

All that youth has been antsy to play some real games.

"At some point, you become stagnant in terms of what you can get better at (in practice) and what you need to work on," Lappe said. "It'll be fun to see us against somebody new that doesn't know us. We don't know them, so there's a lot of things you have to learn. With a young team it makes it exiting."

More so than in the past, when Lappe has had veteran teams, these Buffs are going to have to deal with new game situations on the fly.

"That'll be a huge piece is can we learn within the game?" Lappe said. "We have smart enough basketball players. We have a pretty high basketball IQ. That's what we're banking on to be able to make some in-game adjustments and be able to do some things that maybe we haven't practiced like we needed to practice."

Saturday's game offers the young Buffs a chance to get some experience and, if all goes well, a win.

"More than anything just (gaining) some success, some momentum and start to establish who we are and what our identity is," Lappe said of the nonconference slate. "We think we've already started to establish that and who we want to be this year, but until you start to play you don't really know."

Brian Howell: howellb@dailycamera.com, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.