Colorado coach Linda Lappe inserted sophomore forward Jamee Swan into the starting lineup three games ago because she liked the way Swan was rebounding.

Swan, a 6-foot-2 product of Marana, Ariz., has handled the role well to this point, but she has a notable opportunity to reward her coach for the decision even further this weekend against No. 19 Cal and No. 4 Stanford.

The Buffs play host to the Bay Area powers, which are two of the biggest teams CU will face this season. The Buffs lead the league in rebounding margin, but they haven't faced many opponents with the size and athleticism the Bears and Cardinal can put on the court.

Cal is up first tonight at 8 p.m. (Pac-12 Network), CU is winless in the last five meetings against the Bears all of which have come since the Buffs joined the Pac-12 Conference. Cal's only two losses this season came in the same week back in mid-November at home against No. 2 Duke and on the road at George Washington.

Lappe and her players haven't been shy about saying they believe they have the makings of a team capable of winning the Pac-12 title this season. Considering they have been ranked as high as No. 11 in the polls, they're justified in that thinking, but this weekend brings an opportunity to prove it.


"We feel like we have a little bit of a chip on our shoulders in terms of people still thinking that maybe we shouldn't win," Lappe said. "I think when we think about this weekend, we're thinking about it in a way where it's a great opportunity and it's going to be a lot of fun."

Swan and her teammates understand this weekend could be pivotal in how the Pac-12 plays out. It's the only time in the regular season the Buffs will play Cal and Stanford. CU doesn't make a return trip to the Bay Area this year.

"Because it's our only time playing them, I think that both us and Cal and Stanford are going to play harder knowing that it's the only time we get to play each other until the Pac-12 tournament," Swan said.

Swan said she has done what her coaches have asked of her to break into the starting lineup ahead of senior Rachel Hargis. She said she's trying to become more consistent. She has formed a pattern over the past month of making a big statistical impact in one game and then not showing up much in the box score the next.

She is averaging 4.9 points and 4.8 rebounds but has flirted with a double-double in two of the past three games. She hasn't put back-to-back strong outings together since late November.

"I think a lot of that is youth," Lappe said. "It's tough for young players to be consistent, but as she gets into the second semester of her sophomore year, that is the expectation now for her to start to understand what it means to bring it every day in practice, to bring it every game, to limit mental errors and to do what she does.

"Sometimes as players, you try to do more things than you're good at."

Regardless of who is on the floor for CU tonight, Lappe's team will be focused on limiting easy transition baskets, limiting touches in the paint for Cal 6-3 forward Reshanda Gray, who is averaging 16.8 points and rebounding.

Colorado also can't afford to fall into a half-court game offensively.

"I think it's all about us," senior guard Brittany Wilson said. "We've got to play smarter than them. We've got to play harder than them and we've got to outrebound them and we'll be fine. As long as we take care of our business, we'll be great."

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