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Colorado struggling with young roster

Only two experienced players return for the Buffaloes this year.
Tuesday, January 18, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 9:46 a.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

Colorado knows where it is.

“They have a sense that this is not their year,” Colorado coach Ceal Barry said. “They know it’s not their year.”

The Colorado women’s basketball team has many limitations and setbacks to overcome.

Youth, inexperience on the court, and being faced with the daunting task of compiling an effective lineup out of new faces are its most pressing issues.

“They just don’t know,” Barry said. “Everyday is a learning experience for them.”

Missouri (7-8, 1-3) plays Colorado (7-7, 0-3) at 7 p.m. tonight at Mizzou Arena.

It can be difficult to start from basically nothing to form a team that can be competitive every game in the Big 12 Conference.

Barry and her coaching staff are sifting through that puzzle.

“They’re young, they’re in watching videotape with the coaches and trying to understand how to compete at this level,” Barry said.

Colorado had nine players last season play in 20 or more games. It lost seven to graduation or transfers.

The only Buffaloes left are Veronica Johns-Richardson and Anna Nedovic.

Johns-Richardson, a senior, is the elected team leader.

She has started every game this season, played the most minutes, and scored the third most on the team. It is her job to help usher in the new talent and teach them about the game.

Johns-Richardson has averaged 10.1 points and 3.8 rebounds.

Nedovic, a 6-foot-4 forward, is trying to find her role with the team. A sophomore, Nedovic has increased her playing time by 20 minutes, and become the team’s leading scorer.

She has averaged 11.1 points and 6.9 rebounds.

Discipline can help a coach with players that are not producing.

“I think it definitely depends on the group of kids and the situation,” Barry said.

Beal said the attitude of the team and the programs the coaching staff has implemented are equally important to team chemistry.

“I think the pulse of the team and kind of where their morale is and the type of team they are depends on what source of motivation you use with them,” Barry said.

Barry said in the past, she has made the team dress in the visitors’ locker room as a form of punishment. This approach would not work with this set of Buffaloes.

“Our team is so young,” Barry said. “If I took something away they wouldn’t know it was their right to have it anyway.”

Colorado is looking to freshman Kara Richards to make an impact.

Richards, a 6-foot-4 freshman, plays center for the Buffaloes. She is averaging 10.3 points and 5.5 rebounds.

Richards is likely to play against Missouri center Christelle N’Garsanet.

N’Garsanet, a 6-3 junior, has not met many players taller than her this season and the game could be a new challenge for her.

Missouri is trying to break a three-game losing streak against Colorado.

N’Garsanet’s play can be linked to the play of the Tigers’.

In the past three games, N’Garsanet’s scoring average has decreased. Her team-high 25 blocks has been stalled since Missouri’s most recent victory against Oklahoma State on Jan. 5.

N’Garsanet is averaging 12.8 points and six rebounds.

The Buffaloes’ are still searching for their first conference victory, but continue to be positive.

“Everything they do, they are building for a future,” Barry said. “Sometimes as coaches we think, ‘Why are they so happy — we’re 0-2’.”

Missouri is also a young team, with one senior and two juniors. Tiffany Brooks said that youth does account for some of the Tigers’ miscues and that age is not excuse.

“A lot of us are really young, so we’re trying to find out what fits,” Brooks said. “Who does this well, and who doesn’t, so we can put ourselves in situations that we’re going to succeed in.”

Brooks is the leading scorer for Missouri averaging 14.7 points and three rebounds.

One thing about the young players at Colorado, they refuse to let defeat cloud their potential.

“I think young players are pretty optimistic,” Barry said. “They know they have a future when you have five freshman and sophomores playing as much as we do.”


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