A Whole New Ball Game

Last season, the Kansas Jayhawks fought the No. 15-ranked Colorado Buffaloes tooth and nail, but could not withstand a three-point barrage in a loss at Allen Fieldhouse. The Jayhawks will look for revenge on February 13th in Lawrence when the Buffaloes stampede into town.

The 2004-05 KU Women's basketball team is under new leadership and playing hard-fought basketball, just like a season ago against the Buffaloes. Head coach Bonnie Henrickson is ensuring her team plays at a high level in hopes of surprising some difficult Big 12 competition.

Last year Kansas was riding high after a big victory over border rival, Missouri. That win was only the second conference game of the year and the Jayhawks hoped to propel the momentum into the rest of the conference schedule. The team entered the KU-Colorado match up with high hopes.

Kansas received stellar performances from Crystal Kemp and Aquanita Burras. Kemp led all scorers in the contest with 15 points and led the Jayhawks with 13 rebounds. Burras also provided a rebounding presence with 12 boards and scored from the guard position with 13 points.

However, Kansas faltered down the stretch while Kate Fagan scored seven points in the last three minutes to seal the 59-49 victory for the Buffaloes. Fagan finished the game with 12 points and Tera Bjorklund hauled down 15 rebounds to lead Colorado.

Both Fagan and Bjorklund were seniors and will be absent this time around. The Buffaloes lost eight letter-winners, including their entire starting lineup. Bjorklund led the team with 18.1 points and 7.7 rebounds per contest last season. Fagan was an instrumental part of the team that reached the NCAA tournament and finished the season ranked in Top 25. Overall, the Buffaloes lost a combined 56.5 points and 26.9 rebounds per game. Head coach Ceal Barry always seems to find a way to win games, with 418 victories in 21 seasons at Colorado.

Sophomore forward Anna Denovic leads the Buffs in scoring while freshman forward Jackie McFarland has been named the Big 12 Conference Rookie of the Week – twice. Kansas has played 23 games under Henrickson in her first season at the helm with a small roster both in numbers and in size.

Through the non-conference schedule, the Jayhawks have showed the ability play high intensity basketball, especially on defense. Kansas will have to find a way to match the size of Colorado. The Buffaloes carry five players who stand 6-3 or taller compared to Kansas, which possesses no players of that size.

The Jayhawks found a way to beat teams early in the schedule with solid play from the guard and post positions. The 5-8 guard, Erica Hallman has emerged as a leader on the team while creating scoring opportunities for herself and the rest of the squad. While Hallman has provided a spark for the Jayhawks, the catalyst for the offense is Kemp.

Not only does Kemp have a knack for scoring around the rim, but the 6-2 forward also controls the boards with relentless rebounding skills. Fans should look for a good matchup inside with Kemp and Nedovic for the Buffaloes. Nedovic has the versatility to step outside the paint to hit open jump shots much like Kemp.

The teams meet at a crucial point in the Big 12 schedule. For Kansas, the game against Colorado will jumpstart a four-game home stretch with contests against Texas Tech, Nebraska, Baylor, Kansas State, and Iowa State to end the regular season.

Colorado is on a six-game losing skid after falling to Missouri, 58-55, on Wednesday in Boulder. Included in Colorado's loss column is a 65-60 defeat to Kansas earlier this season in Boulder. On Jan. 25, the Jayhawks ended an eight-game losing streak to the Buffaloes and picked up their first conference road win of the season.

The Buffaloes will look to finish the season strong against some of the best competition the Big 12 has to offer. Colorado faces Kansas State and Texas on the road one game after playing the Jayhawks. Kansas has a slight 12-11 edge on the Buffaloes in Lawrence, but Colorado leads the overall series 28-26.


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