CU women’s hoops preview
MATCHUP: No. 15 Stanford Cardinal (20-6, 10-4 Pac-12) at Colorado Buffaloes (6-19, 1-13 Pac-12)
GAME TIME: Friday, 8 p.m., at Coors Events Center
BROADCAST: Radio — KKZN (760 AM). TV — Pac-12 Networks.
COACHES: Colorado — Linda Lappe, sixth year (104-87; 154-123 career); Stanford — Tara VanDerveer, 29th year (821-172; 973-223 career).
LEADERS: Colorado — Scoring: F Jamee Swan, Sr., 13.4 ppg; Rebounding: Swan, 6.9 rpg; Assists: G Kennedy Leonard, Fr., 4.4 apg. Stanford — Scoring: G Lili Thompson, Jr., 14.6 ppg; Rebounding: F Erica McCall, Jr., 9.4 rpg; Assists – Thompson, 3.6 apg.
NOTABLE: CU is looking to snap a four-game losing streak. … After connecting on 39.9 percent of their 3-pointers during non-conference play, the Buffs are hitting 3s at just 29.3 percent in Pac-12 games. … CU is expected to have junior Lauren Huggins back after she missed Sunday’s game at Oregon with the flu. … Swan needs 20 points to join CU’s all-time list of top 20 scorers. … Leonard has 110 assists on the year, tying her with Lappe for the fourth-best total by a CU freshman.
Most of the arena had cleared out after a Colorado volleyball match, but the Coors Events Center was hardly quiet.
The CU women’s basketball team got louder with each stair that Jamee Swan climbed. She was drenched in sweat, and probably a few tears, as she spent close to 30 minutes paying for a mistake.
Swan had yet to play a game for the Buffaloes, but her new teammates took turns running with her to give her encouragement on that night three-and-a-half years ago.
“It was not the highlight (of my career), but it was something that made me realize that the girls around me really did care about me,” she said.
It was also a turning point moment for Swan, now a senior who this weekend will play her final two home games in a CU uniform.
“I messed up when I was 18 and looking back on it I can say that it was the stupidest thing I could have done at that time,” she said. “I just could have been smarter. I think if that didn’t happen to me, I don’t think I would have grown as much as I have.”
The Buffs (6-19, 1-13 Pac-12) will host No. 15 Stanford (20-6, 10-4) on Friday night and California (12-13, 3-11) on Sunday in Swan’s last games at Coors Events Center. CU has two road games after that before going into the Pac-12 Tournament.
The 6-foot-2 Swan is likely to become just the seventh player in CU history to reach both the 1,200-point and 750-rebound marks for her career. She enters this week with 1,175 points and 736 rebounds.
As a player, she’s gone from filling a small role as a freshman to becoming a dominating force in the paint as a junior and senior.
“When she came in, she was just a piece of what we did, but now she’s someone we need to rely on every single game,” head coach Linda Lappe said. “I think she’s become much more versatile.”
Lappe said Swan’s biggest area of growth has come in the classroom, while teammate Lauren Huggins has said she’s enjoyed seeing Swan grow as a person.
“It’s been so much fun,” said Huggins, who has been Swan’s roommate the past four years. “On and off the court, Jamee is a great person. Being able to come in with her and grow and develop as basketball players and people, it’s great to have that person who is always by your side.”
Huggins and Swan joined Kyleesha Weston to form Lappe’s 2012 recruiting class. Weston left after her freshman year and now plays at MidAmerica Nazarene University. Huggins had to take a redshirt year because of injuries and has a year to play. That leaves Swan as the lone senior.
“Being that I am the only senior, I’m going to have a lot of people to thank,” she joked.
The Buffs will thank Swan, too. While CU’s record has declined every year of Swan’s career — from an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2013 to this year’s last-place record — Swan has become a better player, a better teammate and a good friend to many of the Buffs.
“She’s made a big impact on each and every one of us,” Huggins said.
Lappe said he wants Swan to finish strong and make sure she leaves CU “not having any regrets and really feeling good about what she was able to accomplish.”
Swan, however, said she doesn’t need to do anything over the next couple of weeks to feel good about her career. She has no regrets.
“I think that I’ve gotten better over the years and no matter what the outcome is, I feel like I’ve become a better person,” she said.
“I’m very happy with my choice of coming to the University of Colorado and learning who I am as a person and being able to play in front of my family and friends. I’m very happy with my career.”
Brian Howell: firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.