Colorado basketball fans might see a different side of Lauren Huggins on Saturday night.
A 3-point specialist to this point in her career, the junior may get to show off a few other skills when the Buffaloes host South Carolina-Aiken in an exhibition game at Coors Events Center.
“It gives us an opportunity to work on the things that we’ve been doing in practice and expand our games even further,” Huggins said. “For me, it’ll probably be an opportunity to get to the basket and work on pull-up jumpers more so than anyone has ever seen thus far.”
In CU’s only live tuneup before the season tips off on Nov. 14, Huggins and the Buffs are hoping for a chance to put a lot of their work into action. And while there may be opportunities for players to test themselves in different ways offensively, head coach Linda Lappe will be looking at her defense.
“I want to see a defensive presence, first and foremost,” Lappe said. “We’ve worked hard on the defensive side of things, being aggressive and being able to be in the right positions and really playing team defense.”
Last season was CU’s worst on defense in Lappe’s five seasons as head coach, and it’s no surprise they finished with their first losing record (15-17) under her watch. That led to an offseason focused primarily on defense.
“I want to see carry-over from what we’ve started to instill during the preseason,” Huggins said. “I think everyone is going to see a lot of defensive intensity and getting in the lanes and boxing out and that type of stuff.”
Lappe said she also wants to see the Buffs get out in transition, which is a byproduct of playing good defense. She’s also hoping to see her players be precise in the areas they’ve worked the most.
“With a young team, I had to really pick what’s the most important thing to get accomplished (early in the season),” Lappe said. “The things we’ve worked on a lot, I want to see those things be really sharp.”
Lappe said this week she’s nowhere near determining a starting lineup or a standard rotation, and therefore, there won’t be anything to read into who she starts against USC-Aiken. Mainly, Saturday night is an opportunity for everybody to get a decent chunk of court time in front of some fans and against an opponent.
“We’re very excited,” Huggins said. “You could see within our scrimmage against Idaho State (last week), it was nice to play someone other than ourselves and our practice players. But to actually go through pregame warm-ups and actually put on our uniforms and have people come and watch us play is really exciting. Everyone gets to see how hard we’ve been working.”
Former Holy Family High School standout Kassy Johannsen is the starting center for USC-Aiken. The senior will be playing in her hometown for the first time since high school. … CU is 25-0 all-time in exhibition games. They have won those games by average of about 32 points. … The Buffs official opener is Nov. 14 at 2 p.m. against Loyola Marymount.
Brian Howell: email@example.com, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.