JR Payne is pleased with the progress of the Colorado women’s basketball team during preseason practices, but with the season opener less than three weeks away, there is still a lot of work to be done.
CU is more three weeks into preseason camp and will host New Mexico State in the season opener on Nov. 7.
“We’ve been pretty up and down, to be honest,” said Payne, entering her seventh season as the Buffaloes’ head coach. “We’ve had really great days and we’ve had, like, head-scratcher days. We’re really striving for some consistency.
“I think we have all the pieces we need to be really successful but we’re not as consistent as we need to be, ultimately, really successful. So we’re trying to strive for that.”
Coming off an NCAA Tournament appearance, the Buffs (22-9 last season) lost three significant contributors in Sila Finau, Mya Hollingshed and Peanut Tuitele. Payne likes the makeup of this year’s roster, but the group is still trying to replace last year’s leaders.
“That’s the coaches’ mindset is always trying to figure out how can we be better, but I’m very excited about our group,” Payne said. “It’s been just a different challenge as a coach.”
Payne and her staff relied on Hollingshed and Tuitele, in particular, as vocal leaders for years and the process of replacing that vocal leadership is ongoing.
“We’re seeing different people step up and a couple that are kind of battling through injury, but getting there,” Payne said. “And, still really challenging our point guards to be more vocal and take ownership of this team.
“I think we have a chance to be better than we were. It doesn’t just happen, though. You have to be intentional about attacking your weaknesses in order to be better.”
There are a lot of strengths, but there are several weaknesses at this point, too.
Hollingshed and Tuitele were two of CU’s best rebounders and the Buffs are having challenges on the glass.
“(Rebounding) just needs to be better,” Payne said. “We scrimmaged a fair amount (Monday) against our practice guys and there’s just too many clips where the consistency on the glass isn’t what it needs to be.”
On the plus side, Payne said the Buffs are shooting the ball much better than they did a year ago. Freshman Jada Wynn is one of several talented shooters recruited this offseason and senior point guard Jaylyn Sherrod “has really worked on her shot and is shooting the ball well,” Payne said.
“I think we’re shooting the ball with confidence,” she said.
In the next few weeks, Payne hopes the Buffs can gain some confidence in more areas.
The Buffs will host Colorado Mines in a closed scrimmage this weekend and have an intrasquad scrimmage the following weekend. They host Adams State in an exhibition game on Nov. 1 at 6 p.m. at CU Events Center.
Payne is encouraged, but with the season quickly approaching, she’s also looking for ways to get better.
“I see potential in a lot of things,” she said, “but I also see areas that if we don’t fix this, it’s gonna be a problem.”