Thoughts of going home and spending the summer with family and friends were appealing to Emma Clarke.
Thoughts of going through the long flights to and from Perth, Australia, and then having to get re-acclimated to the altitude kept her in Boulder.
Now, with the start of the Colorado women’s basketball team quickly approaching – the Buffs host NJIT in the opener on Nov. 10 – Clarke is pleased with her choice.
“It was very beneficial,” the sophomore guard said after a recent practice. “I worked out every day of the week. I lost like 16 pounds. It was really good. I didn’t really have much off time, as much as I thought I was going to have, but it was so good.”
As a freshman last year, the 6-foot-1 Clarke played in all 30 games for the Buffs (12-18, 2-16 Pac-12), averaging 15.8 minutes, 4.6 points and 3.2 rebounds per game.
With a full offseason in Boulder under her belt, Clarke knows she can do even better.
“I definitely feel like I’m more ready, definitely readier than any other season that I’ve been in, because my pre-season has been so long,” she said. “I’m working on my game every day. Yeah, I’m really excited for this year.”
Head coach JR Payne is excited for Clarke’s sophomore year, too, because she’s a different player.
“She very much transformed her body from last season to now,” Payne said. “So she’s really lean, she’s really strong. She’s put in a lot of time in the gym, she’s shooting the ball really well and she’s confident. I expect Emma to have a really great season this year. And she’s worked very hard to earn that confidence.”
Clarke said she feels quicker on the court and believes she is better at drive to the rim, delivering passes and playing defense.
As for her role this year, Clarke said it’s really going to be determined by her continued work ethic.
“Just giving my best effort would probably be my role – same as everyone else’s role,” she said.
Guard Quinessa Caylao-Do is the only senior on the Buffs’ roster, so it’s no surprise how the rest of the team treats her.
“A lot of people on the team call me a mom,” she said with a laugh.
Coming off her best year in Boulder, Caylao-Do is embracing the leadership role for a team that desperate needs it.
“I think it’s a good experience for me, just from a leadership standpoint, to be able to step up,” she said. “I think it’s a good challenge, because I think it will help me work on being more of a leader. I think I’m still vocal, but I think there are still things I can work on.”
Caylao-Do, who has started 52 games the past two years – including all 30 last year – averaged career highs in points (11.1), rebounds (4.2), assists (1.7) last year while posting the best shooting numbers of her career. She hit 38.8 percent of her shots, including 37.3 from 3-point range and 60 percent of her free throws.
CU coaches believe Caylao-Do’s potential is even greater.
“Quinessa is the type of player that, I told her … ‘You’re someone that we always use as a shining example in our recruiting efforts as to what hard work looks like. If you’re willing to put in the work, if you’re willing to invest, like you have, yeah, you can turn yourself into anything you want to be.’ From a basketball standpoint, Q’s work ethic is second to none.
“Her teammates naturally look to her as like, ‘Okay, that’s what success looks like.’”
Caylao-Do and junior Mya Hollingshed are the only players on the team that started all 30 games last season. Clarke and junior Annika Jank also played in all 30 games. … The Buffs will host Regis in an exhibition at 7 p.m. on Nov. 4 at CU Events Center.