There are times when Colorado women’s basketball players seem to take great pleasure in delivering a great pass to a teammate.
That’s not an accident. It’s the result of practice.
“Oh, yeah,” freshman guard Kindyll Wetta said. “I mean, we rep that a lot in practice. We specifically do it where we back cut and then throw the back cut and do different passes. We’re working on that a lot, so we get really excited when we get one of those in the game.”
CU’s unselfish nature has been a trademark of this year’s team, which wrapped up non-conference play on Monday with an 11-0 record. The Buffs start Pac-12 play on Dec. 31 at Oregon State.
Through the first 11 games, the Buffs are averaging 16.1 assists per game and 58.2 percent of their successful field goals have come after an assist.
Point guards Jaylyn Sherrod (3.7 per game) and Wetta (3.2) lead the way, but nine different Buffs have delivered at least 10 assists this season.
“I think that’s the biggest thing and also Mya (Hollingshed) talked about it, just the culture right now it’s very unselfish,” head coach JR Payne said. “I don’t think anyone on this team cares who scores, who has the most rebounds, any of it. They just want to win.”
More impressive than the assist totals is the lack of turnovers that go with them.
Facing exceptional guards every night in the Pac-12 could impact CU’s final numbers, but at this point, the Buffs are 36th nationally with a 1.14 assist-to-turnover ratio. CU hasn’t finished a season with more assists than turnovers since 2003-04 (1.02 ratio).
Individually, Wetta ranks fifth in the country with a 3.5 ratio (35 assists, 10 turnovers), while Sherrod is tied for 14th at 2.93 (41 assists, 14 turnovers). The Buffs are the only team in the country with two players in the top 15.
Wetta and Sherrod are on pace for the two best ratios in program history. In fact, only three players in CU history have finished a season with at least 25 assists and an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.0 or better: Mandy Nightingale (2.52 in 2001-02), Shelley Sheetz (2.13 in 1994-95) and Kennedy Leonard (2.11 in 2018-19).
CU is spreading the wealth in assists, but also in several other categories, including minutes.
The Buffs have nine players who have participated in all 11 games and they’re all averaging at least 16.8 minutes per game. They are all also averaging at least 4.5 points.
That’s part of why Hollingshed believes this team is better prepared for the Pac-12 schedule than in years past.
“Yeah, it does feel different,” she said. “I think just because of the culture that we created. Everyone coming in willing to work. Not saying that past players haven’t had that, but it’s just a different feel. When you come in, the energy is just different. It just feels like everybody’s dialed in, locked in. We all have the same goal and I think we’re all buying into that. And, we’re just listening to the coaches and just trying to do everything we can.”
Using a nine-player rotation has allowed the Buffs to develop, but Payne said that depth will become more important as the season goes along.
“Last year, when we only got three (non-conference) games, there was no opportunity for anyone to really get their feet wet,” Payne said. “This year has definitely been different in that way.
CU is one of only five undefeated teams remaining in Division I. The others are Arizona, Nebraska, North Carolina and South Carolina. … CU leads the Pac-12 in field goal percentage (.471) and turnover margin (plus-6.45 per game). … The Buffs’ 11-game win streak is the longest in the Pac-12.