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CU Buffs’ Jaylyn Sherrod showing progress in freshman season

Guard leads the Buffs in assists with 5.7 a game

Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer
Colorado’s Jaylen Sherrod passes out of the key past Utah’s Lola Pendrande during the January 17, 2020 game in Boulder. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

Long after the fans had cleared out of CU Events Center and the visiting Utah Utes were on their way home, Jaylyn Sherrod returned to the court.

With her phone providing the music, Sherrod spent several minutes shooting and working out alone after she and the Colorado women’s basketball team were dealt an 84-69 loss last Friday.

“That Utah game, I took a lot of responsibility in that loss,” the freshman point guard said this week. “When they started going (on a run), I didn’t really rally my team the way I was supposed to and I had just a lot on my  mind about that game, so why not just shoot it out?”

The postgame workout – the first time she or any Buff has done that this season – seemed to do the trick.

“I think it did,” she said with a smile. “I talked to coach (JR Payne) after that game and got a lot of stuff out, cleared the table and started off fresh going into this Cali run.”

Sherrod and the Buffs (13-4, 2-4 Pac-12) are looking to rebound from the disappointing defeat when they hit the road this week. They will visit No. 6 Stanford (16-2, 5-1) on Friday, followed by a date at California (8-9, 0-6) on Sunday.

For the Buffs, it’s an opportunity to get back on the winning track, even though it’s never an easy trip; the Buffs are 1-11 in the Bay Area since joining the Pac-12 in 2011-12.

“I think the biggest thing is refocusing on ourselves and what we do well and what we need to improve; and focusing maybe a little bit less on our opponent because everyone’s really good,” Payne said. “We need to sort of refocus on us and focus on our execution on both sides of the ball and things like that.”

For Sherrod, it’s another step in her development. A product of Birmingham, Ala., Sherrod is beginning to establish herself as one of the Buffs’ key players while getting a weekly lesson in Pac-12 hoops.

“I think she’s adjusting as well as any freshmen could, mostly because of the way that she was raised and the type of fearless mindset that she has,” Payne said.

Sherrod didn’t become a starter until the Buffs’ seventh game of the season, but leads the Buffs in assists (5.7 per game) and ranks third in scoring (10.1). In the Pac-12, two-time conference player of the year Sabrina Ionescu of Oregon is the only player with more assists.

With 97 assists on the season, Sherrod is likely to hit the century mark this weekend and she’s on pace for an assist total that would rank among the top five in program history.

During Pac-12 play, Sherrod is posting 11.5 points and 6.5 assists per game.

“It’s a lot faster (than non-conference play), but I think I am adjusting,” she said. “I’m doing better defensively and just knowing how the speed of the game is now.”

Fearless and competitive, Sherrod has enjoyed playing against the Pac-12’s best guards.

“This is the best conference in the nation, so the best guards, the best post players night in, night out,” she said. “You’ve just got to study the scout and be prepared for it. Every night is a challenge. That’s what I came here for. I knew it was going to be a challenge and I knew that I could rise to the occasion.”

The loss to Utah was a reminder to Sherrod that there is plenty more room for growth.

CU led by four at halftime, but Utah went on a 20-2 run early in the third quarter and the Buffs never recovered. It certainly wasn’t Sherrod’s fault, but she believes she could have done more to lead her team through it.

“I think it has been a learning process,” she said of balancing being a freshman with the need to step up as a leader. “But I think finally it’s coming together for me. All year the challenge of being more vocal and leading has been on me and I think I’m doing pretty good adjusting to it.”

Payne and the Buffs’ coaches have challenged Sherrod to be more vocal with the team, especially in those rough patches when a leader is needed most. Payne has no doubt the freshman will develop in that area.

“She takes a lot of ownership for the way that we perform,” Payne said. “She always wants to get better. She always wants to hear how she can do better. She wants to be coached and I think that’s part of what makes her so great.”

Sherrod has improved as the season has gone along and her solo workout last Friday night proved she’s eager to continue her progression.

“With the responsibility that my coaches have put on me and my teammates, I don’t want to let them down,” she said.

CU women’s basketball preview: Stanford

MATCHUP: Colorado Buffaloes (13-4, 2-4 Pac-12) at No. 6 Stanford Cardinal (16-2, 5-1)

GAME TIME: Friday, 8 p.m. MT, at Maples Pavilion in Stanford, Calif.

BROADCAST: TV – Pac-12 Networks. Radio – 630 AM

COACHES: Colorado – JR Payne, 4th season (57-54; 158-167 career). Stanford – Tara VanDerveer, 34th season (931-198; 1,083-249 career).

LEADERS: Colorado  – Scoring: F Mya Hollingshed, Jr., 13.7 ppg; Rebounding: G Aubrey Knight, So., 6.8 rpg; Assists – G Jaylyn Sherrod, Fr., 5.7 apg. Stanford – Scoring: G Kiana Williams, Jr., 13.1 ppg; Rebounds: G Lexie Hull, So., 6.2 rpg; Assists: Williams, 3.7 apg.

NOTABLE: The Buffs have lost two in a row, including an 84-69 loss to Utah on Jan. 17 in Boulder. … Hollingshed has averaged 18 points and six rebounds in her last two games, while connecting on 56 percent of her shots (15-of-27). … Sherrod needs 13 assists to tie Linda Lappe for fifth-most by a freshman in CU history. Lappe had 110 in 1998-99. … Freshman center Charlotte Whittaker has missed the last three games with a leg injury, but Payne said it’s possible Whittaker returns this week. “It is, for the first time (since the injury), a possibility,” Payne said. “She’s definitely progressing.” … CU has lost 28 consecutive games to Associated Press Top 25 teams. … CU is 4-19 all-time against Stanford, including 0-14 since joining the Pac-12. The Buffs are 0-10 all-time at Maples Pavilion. … Stanford had a five-game winning streak snapped with an 87-55 loss at No. 4 Oregon on Jan. 16, but bounced back with a 61-58 win against No. 7 Oregon State. … Stanford is 10-0 at home this season. CU is 5-2 on the road. … The Cardinal have two freshmen from Colorado on the team: Discovery Canyon graduate Ashten Pretchel (6.4 ppg, 4.6 rpg) and Regis grad Francesca Belibi (6.0 ppg, 4.9 rpg).