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Aubrey Knight staying positive for CU Buffs

Colorado women’s basketball player hopes to lead team through latest challenge caused by coronavirus pandemic

Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer
Colorado’s Aubrey Knight is hoping she and the Buffaloes make the most of their extended offseason after the Pac-12 postponed the start of basketball season until at least January.

Aubrey Knight has gone through more learning experiences than she imagined when she chose to play basketball at Colorado.

A shoulder injury near the end of her freshman year forced her to spend that offseason rehabilitating.

Then, she played three games the next year before another shoulder injury shut her down for the season.

This year, Knight was eager to take part in her first full offseason of workouts with the Buffs, but the coronavirus pandemic has prevented that.

“Coming in, I never would have expected that I would have had two surgeries and sit out a year, let alone be playing during a global pandemic,” the fourth-year junior said. “I think that all of this has definitely been able to help me grow.”

As she did throughout her injuries, Knight is staying positive, despite the fact that the coronavirus prevented the Buffs from going to the Women’s NIT in March, has limited summer workouts and will cause next season, normally tipping off in early November, to start at least two months late. The Pac-12 recently put all sports competitions on hold until January.

“I can kind of push my teammates because I understand how it feels to have your season canceled or not be able to play a season,” she said. “I think this is really beneficial for us in that aspect and I can kind of give my teammates a little bit of that wisdom that I have that a lot of them haven’t experienced.”

Knight was the Buffs’ spark off the bench last season, averaging 7.5 points and 6.2 rebounds in 23.8 minutes per game.

She was hoping to spend the summer building off of that, but workouts were limited because of the coronavirus. She is hoping, however, to use the next few months to make up for it.

“This is kind of the offseason that I haven’t been able to get to kind of get stronger and really develop, which I’m excited about,” she said.

“I think one of the biggest things is being a more consistent player – just being more of an offensive threat and just working on my shooting ability. And then kind of just growing on my leadership aspects, trying to bring this team to hopefully winning a championship.”

CU went 16-14 last season, posting its best winning percentage (.533) in coach JR Payne’s four seasons. The Buffs were expecting an invitation to the Women’s NIT when the coronavirus caused the cancellation of all NCAA postseason tournaments.

The Buffs return seven of nine players from the regular rotation, including Knight, and she said the loss of the postseason will serve as motivation when the next season is played.

“This will be my fourth year … and we haven’t played postseason and so to have that in our sights of, ‘OK, we’re about to go play postseason,’ and then have it ripped under us was a huge bummer,” she said. “So I think that we’re all pretty amped up about that and having the opportunity to hopefully do that again this year is definitely driving that and we’re all really excited and really pumped for the season. Hopefully it’ll happen.”

As one of the team leaders, Knight knows it will take discipline by all members of the team to make it happen. Following health guidelines and being smart about social gatherings is critical.

“Every decision that we make is for the bigger aspect of playing a season,” she said. “We understand that if we want to have a season, which all of us do, we have to be doing these things of not going out, wearing a mask when you’re in public, being the example for Colorado sports and just Colorado in general.”