Throughout this season, the Colorado women's basketball team has done a lot of things that haven't been done in a while.
Numerous times, the phrase "for the first time since" has been written about this team.
The 19th-ranked Buffaloes (25-6) are in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2004. They have won 25 games for the first time since 1996. They won 13 games conference games for the first time since 1995. They held 12 opponents below the 50-point mark, which is the first time that has ever been done by a CU team.
So, as the Buffs prepare to play in the NCAA Tournament for the 13th time in program history -- they host Kansas (18-13) on Saturday at 4:40 p.m. in Boulder -- which team does this one most closely resemble?
"The 1988 team," said CU associate athletic director Ceal Barry, who coached the Buffs' previous 12 NCAA Tournament teams. "They were the first team to get there and they set goals similar to this team of getting an NCAA bid. Erin Carson was our senior and, similar to (current senior) Chucky Jeffery, she was our marquee senior."
Barry said the 1988 team had an uphill climb similar to this year's team. They had gone through three losing seasons in the previous four years and had not been to a national tournament since the 1982 AIAW Tournament.
This CU team has made three trips to the Women's NIT since 2004, including the past two seasons, but also went through five losing seasons.
"The only thing that I've thought is that for Linda and her staff, the first team that gets an NCAA bid after a drought is always one that is near and dear to your heart," said Barry, whose Buffs went to the NCAA Tournament 12 times in 17 seasons from 1988-2004. "There's definitely a different feeling to climb a mountain and reach a goal as opposed to being expected to be there year after year."
Relying on depth
CU has had a solid 10-player rotation throughout the season. Some basketball coaches, at various levels, will shorten their bench by a player or two, but that is not Lappe's plan.
"We'll stay consistent," Lappe said. "Against different teams, maybe different players play, depending on match-ups and how effective we think they can be against a certain team, but in general we're not going to change what we've been doing for 30-plus games."
Taking it easy
During the season, CU got used to a Friday/Sunday schedule in the Pac-12 Conference. This weekend could be a Saturday/Monday schedule for the Buffs. Because of that, Wednesday's practice wasn't as intense as usual.
"We went lighter today, just because we do have an extra day to prepare based on what we've done (throughout the season)," Lappe said. "We did a lot of cerebral things and I thought we were sharp."
Junior center Rachel Hargis, who injured her right knee on Friday, is still day-to-day, but Lappe said Hargis is improving every day. ... As of Wednesday afternoon, CU had sold 3,700 all-session passes for the weekend.
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