Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
During her first five seasons as the women’s basketball coach at Colorado, Linda Lappe always walked away from nonconference play with a good record.
This season, her Buffaloes are struggling to find the win column.
Yet, as Lappe and the Buffs (4-5) head into the final week of nonconference play, she maintains her team is prepared for Pac-12 play.
“We’ve seen a lot of different types of basketball,” Lappe said after CU’s 79-75 loss to undefeated Missouri on Saturday. “We’ve had a pretty tough nonconference schedule, especially for a young team. There hasn’t been a lot of easy ones to learn a lot from. But I feel like we are prepared.”
While the Buffs have seen a variety of styles of opponents, they haven’t beaten their better foes. They’ve got wins against Loyola Marymount, Northern Colorado, Massachusetts and Northern Arizona. They’ve also got losses to Colorado State, Long Beach State and three SEC opponents: Kentucky, Florida and Missouri.
Lappe’s hope, is that facing the SEC teams has helped the young Buffs.
“I just told our team Missouri is like (Pac-12 favorite) Oregon State and they’re like (perennial power) Stanford,” Lappe said. “We’ve now faced a team that they’re very similar to those types of teams. Kentucky and Florida were a lot like the more athletic teams in the conference (such as California).”
So far, the Buffs are 0-3 against those teams that are similar to Pac-12 foes, and they are currently the only team in the Pac-12 with a losing record.
Senior Jamee Swan is on board with Lappe’s thinking, though, believing that playing a close game against undefeated Missouri bodes well for CU.
“It was a lot of fun to play against a team of that caliber,” Swan said. “It’ll set us up for greatness for the Pac-12.”
CU starts the Pac-12 schedule on Jan. 2 when Washington comes to Boulder.
CU hasn’t taken a losing record into conference play since the 2005-06 season. To avoid that this year, the Buffs need to beat Presbyterian on Saturday and win at Wyoming on Monday.
Do that, and Lappe could consider the nonconference a success.
“If we have another good week like this last one, I really like where we’re sitting going into conference play,” she said.
The Buffs had a 48-9 nonconference record in Lappe’s first five seasons, including a three-year stretch of going 32-1 from 2011-13. … In program history, the Buffs have been below .500 going into conference play just four times. They never won more than 10 games in any of those seasons.
Brian Howell: firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.