CU women’s basketball preview: Stanford
MATCHUP: Colorado Buffaloes (12-12, 3-10 Pac-12) at No. 17 Stanford Cardinal (17-8, 11-2)
GAME TIME: Sunday, 4 p.m. MT, at Maples Pavilion in Stanford, Calif.
BROADCAST: TV — Pac-12 Network. Radio — KHOW 630 AM
COACHES: Colorado — JR Payne, 2nd season (29-28 at CU; 130-141 career). Stanford — Tara Vanderveer, 32nd season (878-188 at Stanford; 1,028-239 career)
LEADERS: Colorado — Scoring: G Kennedy Leonard, Jr., 15.1 ppg; Rebounding: F Annika Jank, Fr., 7.4 rpg; Assists: Leonard, Jr., 6.7 apg. Stanford — Scoring: G Brittany McPhee, Sr., 17.4 ppg; Rebounding: F Kaylee Johnson, Sr., 7.5 rpg; Assists – G Marta Sniezek, Jr., 4.4 apg.
NOTABLE: CU is coming off a heart-breaking 78-76 loss at Cal on Friday, in which the Buffs missed a shot at the buzzer. … The Buffs are 1-8 in their last nine games. … Stanford has won five in a row, including 70-49 against Utah on Friday. … Stanford is 10-2 at home this season, while CU is 5-5 on the road. … The Buffs have lost 13 in a row against teams ranked in the Associated Press Top 25, dating back to Nov. 19, 2016. … They have 33 consecutive road games to Top 25 opponents, dating back to a 62-51 win at No. 20 Vanderbilt on Dec. 9, 2007. … Stanford leads the all-time series 17-4, including 9-0 at Maples. CU is 0-12 against the Cardinal since joining the Pac-12. … Leonard needs 12 points to reach 1,300 for her career and is 10 assists away from the 500 mark.
Whenever Mya Hollingshed walks through the women’s basketball offices at Colorado, everybody knows she’s there.
“It’s like a fun tornado that comes through,” Buffaloes’ head coach JR Payne said. “She brings that light-hearted spirit about her, which we love.”
The 6-foot-4 freshman guard/forward from Houston is a bundle of energy who is already becoming a fan favorite with her signature glasses and propensity to dance at literally any given time.
While she hasn’t quite made the same impact on the court, she’s getting there.
In the past couple weeks, Hollingshed has produced two of her best games as a Buff and showing signs of being a key piece to the puzzle for CU (12-12, 3-10 Pac-12) down the stretch.
“It’s been great because the stuff I’ve been working on in practice and on my off time has really come to play in the game,” she said. “I’ve been really getting up shots from the 3. I’m trying to put up a lot of shots so that way when it comes to the game I get it and shoot and don’t hesitate.”
Coming off the bench all season, Hollingshed is averaging 6.2 points and 3.8 rebounds, and she has been, by far, CU’s best 3-point shooter at 46.8 percent (22 of 47).
Her production hasn’t been consistent, but without forward Janea Bunn — who has missed six games for personal reasons and whose status for the remainder of the year is up in the air — Hollingshed is getting more of an opportunity.
She responded with a season-high 22 points against Oregon State on Jan. 28, and then had 16 points and a season-high nine rebounds against Utah last Sunday.
“I think what you’re seeing in Mya is that she’s starting to get it,” Payne said. “To me it comes down to she’s playing harder, she knows what she’s doing more now, she’s defending better than she was, she’s rebounding with more tenacity.”
Hollingshed said the speed of the college game wasn’t a shock to her because “we played fast and scrappy” in AAU ball. The real adjustment has been in learning how to make basketball more of a job than ever before.
“I just had to focus up, because high school to college is totally different,” she said. “There’s a lot you have to learn in a short amount of time, because the season comes quick and games come faster. You just have to learn everything, but once you get the hang of everything, everything settles down.
“In the summer, it was a good lesson because it helped me get into a groove of learning what school and basketball is like at the same time.”
On the court, Payne and her staff fell in love with Hollingshed’s potential when they recruited her.
“She’s so long and so skilled in a lot of ways and you just see the potential that’s in there,” Payne said.
“I think if she can really learn to buy into and develop a great worth ethic, along the lines of (former Buff) Haley Smith — if you have that type of internal motivation, I really think the sky is the limit for her. I think she can do anything she wants to do with the game of basketball, if she really finds that.”
Hollingshed admits that she’s a “very nonchalant player” and that coaches are trying to get her to be more aggressive. She shows that aggressiveness at times, but said, “I have to play at that level at all times.”
If she does, Hollingshed just might become a tornado that’s not so fun for the Pac-12.