CU Buffs women working together to create offense

Several players coming through to make up for loss of Jaylyn Sherrod

BOULDER, CO - January 29, 2021: Colorado's Frida Formann takes a three past Oregon State's Aleah Goodman during the Oregon State at Colorado game on January 29, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)
BOULDER, CO – January 29, 2021: Colorado’s Frida Formann takes a three past Oregon State’s Aleah Goodman during the Oregon State at Colorado game on January 29, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)
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Colorado’s Frida Formann seemingly couldn’t miss from 3-point range on Sunday.

In fact, the freshman didn’t miss on her first six attempts beyond the arc during the Buffaloes’ 67-52 victory at California.

For Formann, it was a great shooting display, but in the bigger picture, it was the product of an efficient day on offense for the Buffs (7-9, 5-8 Pac-12), who are sharing the ball at an improved rate lately.

CU was 11-for-20 from 3-point range against the Bears, hitting 11 in a game for the first time since Feb. 10, 2019, against Southern California. The .550 percentage was CU’s best since March 2, 2017, against Washington State.

For the most part, the Buffs took their 3s within the flow of the offense. They tied a season high with 17 assists, and nine of those came on 3-pointers. That ball movement led to players taking open, set shots.

“When the whole offense is in rhythm, it’s also rhythm shots, so percentages are gonna go up,” said Formann, who finished 6-for-8 on 3s and scored a season-high 25 points. “I think our whole team made a lot of shots, just because we were going to finding each other and it’s also much more fun to play that way.”

CU’s ball movement and teamwork is becoming a trend in recent games.

When starting point guard Jaylyn Sherrod was healthy, the Buffs often looked to her to create scoring opportunities. With her now out for the year with a hip injury, the Buffs have collectively stepped up in sharing the ball.

CU’s shooting percentage without Sherrod (40.8) is slightly lower than with her (41.0), but the Buffs are working together to get their shots. In four games without Sherrod, the Buffs have produced assists on 62.1% of their field goals, compared to 47.9% before she went out.

Since Sherrod went out, Formann has increased her assists from 1.58 per game to 3.25; Mya Hollingshed from 1.33 to 3.25; and Peanut Tuitele from 1.08 to 2.00. Off the bench, Zuzanna Kulinska has posted five assists in three games after having just two in the first 11 games.

“We talked about the best offense is let the ball find the shot,” head coach JR Payne said after the win against Cal. “Let’s not necessarily force anything. Let’s be able to share the ball. There’s no reason we can’t work most of the shot clock, go inside-out, be patient, swing, make the extra pass. We talked about one more pass. … Anytime that we can move the ball that cleanly, I’ll probably be pretty happy with the way we score.”

Stepping up

In addition to playing without Sherrod last weekend in the Bay Area, the Buffs were without Aubrey Knight, who was out with an undisclosed leg injury. In her place, junior Tayanna Jones got her first starts as a Buff.

A transfer from Georgetown, Jones didn’t put up big numbers on the trip (3.5 points per game), but gave the Buffs a good presence on the floor, especially defensively. She had four steals against Cal. Jones was also aggressive in going to the hoop on offense.

“She’s still kind of getting her legs underneath her, as far as playing in this conference and with everybody that’s new and things like that, but we love Tay’s explosiveness,” Payne said. “When we play one-on-one in practice, she’s very difficult to guard off the bounce. Her first step is lightning quick and she’s working on being that aggressive player for us.”

Notable

The Buffs didn’t seem to focus on the fact that they were winless on the road before Sunday, but Formann said, “It’s a more fun trip back. … A win is always nice, no matter where it is.” … The Buffs are scheduled to host the Los Angeles schools this week. USC is slated to play on Boulder on Friday at 6 p.m., with UCLA on Sunday at 1 p.m.