This season in women's basketball, there have been some surprising teams that step up in the biggest moments. One of those teams is the 5th ranked Colorado Lady Buffaloes. After losing to Iowa in the Sweet 16 last season, they return most of their roster and look to capitalize on their tournament experience with a bigger run.
The Lady Buffs are led by Head Coach JR Payne, one of the up and coming coaches in college hoops who built the program from scratch. As the season began, Colorado dominated the defending champion LSU Tigers 92-78 in Las Vegas to earn their first signature win. Any good team has a star player surrounded by many X-Factors, and the Lady Buffs are no different. One of their key players is guard Frida Foremann, who was the leading scorer in their win against LSU. She scored 27 points with 7 three pointers, showing how dangerous she is from outside. The senior is having the best season of her career averaging 14.3 points, 1.7 steals, with 46.7/46.3/100% shooting splits. She also leads the conference making 3.2 three-pointers per game. Jaylyn Sherrod is the star player for Colorado, and she has put the national media on notice with her play this season. The fifth year guard does it all on both ends of the floor averaging 14.8 points, 5.8 assists, and 2.3 steals per game. Like Formann, Sherrod is also averaging career high's this season. In another signature win against 12th ranked Utah, Sherrod scored 34 points adding 6 steals on the defensive end. Her performance was widely recognized as she won ESPN's Player Of The Week, and the Pac-12 Player of the week as well.
Another X-factor for the Lady Buffs is Aaronette Vonleh, sister of former NBA player Noah Vonleh. For Colorado, Vonleh is their center and she's almost unstoppable in the post. The junior is having her best season as well averaging 15.4 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per game. In the Lady Buffs signature wins against top ranked LSU and Utah, she scored 24 points and 18 points respectfully. She has gone against the best at her position like LSU's Angel Reese and Utah's Alissa Pili, but she seems to always have the upper hand. Quay Miller (KWAY Miller) is another X-factor for the Lady Buffs who has quietly impacted them this season. She is averaging 9.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game, but she hasn't really needed to carry the load like she did last season. Miller excelled last year in their run averaging 13.1 points, and 8.9 rebounds so if she can get back up to those numbers, Colorado will continue to be one of the top teams in the nation.
The biggest X-factor for Colorado is their bench. When playing in a conference like the Pac-12, you need to have a deep bench, as well as versatility throughout your roster in order to succeed. The Lady Buffs have that starting with Sara-Rose Smith. The senior guard transferred from Missouri and is currently averaging 4.8 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 0.7 steals per game. Coach Payne seems to ride with the hot hand during games, and that's evident with Smith. In the win against Utah she played Miller only 11 minutes while Smith played 23 off the bench. She finished with a double-double scoring 12 points, 11 rebounds adding 4 steals and shooting 100% from the field. Another player impacting off the bench is Kindyll Wetta, the junior guard from Castle Rock, Colorado. She is averaging 6.8 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 2.1 steals per game. She also had the hot hand in the Utah win after scoring 4 points, collecting 4 rebounds, and also adding 4 steals in 26 minutes. Having the hot hand doesn't always necessarily mean on offense, and Wetta proves that with her defensive ability. A player of note that will impact Colorado's future is Shelomi Sanders, the redshirt freshman guard. If the name sounds familiar, she is the daughter of head football coach Deion Sanders. She will likely not play this season, but rather take what she learns and carry it into the next 4-5 years of her college career.
As the season continues, the Colorado Lady Buffs will continue to fall under the "are they for real?" microscope. Lucky for Coach Payne, she has the roster, the experience, and now the national attention to back up her reasoning why they are the real deal.