CU women's basketball preview: Washington

MATCHUP: Washington Huskies (10-2, 1-0 Pac-12) at Colorado Buffaloes (5-6) .

GAME TIME: Saturday, 1 p.m. at Coors Events Center in Boulder.

BROADCAST: Radio — KKZN (760 AM). TV — Pac-12 Network.

COACHES: Colorado — Linda Lappe, sixth year (103-75; 153-111 career); Washington — Mike Neighbors, third year (53-25).

LEADERS: Colorado — Scoring: F Jamee Swan, Sr., 14.9 ppg; Rebounding: Swan, 7.9 rpg; Assists: G Kennedy Leonard, Fr., 5.3 apg. Washington — Scoring: G Kelsey Plum, Jr., 28.1 ppg; Rebounding: F/C Chantel Osahor, Jr., 10.4 rpg; Assists: Plum, 4.0 apg.

NOTABLE: CU is 22-18 all-time in conference openers, including 1-3 since joining the Pac-12. ... The Buffs are 5-2 at home this season. ... CU leads the series 8-7, but the Buffs have lost the last four to the Huskies. ... Washington opened Pac-12 play on Tuesday with a 79-64 win against rival Washington State. ... Plum, who led the Pac-12 in scoring last year, currently leads the entire country in points per game. ... Washington is seeking a fifth-consecutive 20-win season. ... This is the first of a two-game home set to start conference play. The Buffs host Washington State (9-3, 0-1) on Monday at 8 p.m.

Jamee Swan's teammates gave her some grief for a comment she made recently, referring to the young players on the Colorado women's basketball team as puppies.


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The ribbing was all in good fun, though, and as CU prepares to kick off Pac-12 play, Swan joked, "The puppies are fired up."

CU (5-6) will host Washington (10-2, 1-0 Pac-12) on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Coors Events Center. The Buffs are hoping to take the lessons they learned during a tough nonconference slate and turn them into conference wins.

"I've never felt as prepared going into conference as we do right now," said head coach Linda Lappe, who is in her sixth season at CU.

Lappe said the schedule, which ranks as the 21st toughest in the country according to RPIRatings.com, has allowed CU to already work on issues that don't typically come up until February.

Now, it's time to put that into action.

Following a 77-68 loss at Wyoming on Dec. 21, the Buffs took five days off for the holidays. Many of them, including Lappe, got completely away from the game for at least a day or two. Since returning on Sunday, the Buffs have been sharp.

"This has been the best week of practice we've had," said Swan, the team's lone senior. "There's a different mentality coming from our freshmen, all the way up to me. There's a huge want and motivation going into Pac-12."

Lappe was extremely pleased with how her players returned to Boulder re-energized and ready to go.

"You just have to be more consistent," she said. "That's what we haven't shown this year."

Lack of consistency in practice has led to inconsistent play on game nights, too.

"As we get to understand why consistent practices are important, it's going to lead to some success in the league," Lappe said.

The Buffs have the opportunity to open with two home games — they also host Washington State (9-3, 0-1) on Monday — and it's an important two-game set for a team that seeks a successful conference season.

"We're prepared," Lappe said. "All we need is the score to be the right way. We've got to see some of that success."

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