Freshman Amanda Hanneman used to go to Colorado almost every year to ski with her family. But she’s never been there to play basketball before.
She said she’s heard that simply warming up is a “killer” because of the thin air. Tonight, thin air will be just one of a few possible problems facing the Tigers.
Missouri (12-1) will begin its conference season against the Buffaloes at 9 p.m. at the Coors Events Center in Boulder. With Colorado’s game against Houston canceled on Saturday due to weather conditions, the Buffaloes are 6-6 for the season. The team lost four straight before its win against Cal State-Bakersfield on Thursday.
After Missouri’s win against Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Friday, coach Cindy Stein said that a key for the Tigers in the pre-conference season was getting their bench depth ready and working on team chemistry. Although Missouri has won three straight against Colorado, including the last two in Boulder, Stein was not quick to underestimate her opponent.
“Colorado’s always been a tough place for Missouri,” she said. “I know Kara Richards is back, and we do think we’ll have our hands full.”
Before starting Thursday’s game, Colorado’s Richards had missed seven games because of a left-foot fracture. She scored eight of her team’s first 10 points, and teammate Jackie McFarland ended that game with 22 points. As of December 31, McFarland is second in scoring in the Big 12 Conference, with an average of 19.8 points per game.
Although Missouri is sitting at one of the fastest starts in school history, with their record of most wins with one loss tied with the 1976-77 team, Stein said conference play will be crucial and tough on the Tigers.
“There’s not a place in the Big 12 where I can say I feel good going in there,” she said.
With the shortest player on Colorado’s team at 5-8 and eight Buffaloes at 6-0 or taller, the last time Missouri faced a taller team was at Stanford, the Tigers’ only loss of the season.
While Hanneman said she is a little worried for her team going into the game, she doubts she’ll get much floor time herself. Three bulging discs have been bothering her back all season, but she said it’s slowly healing.
“She’s been playing better and better,” Stein said. “Part of that is she does dive on the floor, she’s very scrappy. But she always hits the open shot. It’s the kind of player you want. She sets a mean screen. And when she’s healthy, we’ll be really excited because she’ll be someone good down the road for us.”
FREE THROWS: Carlynn Savant is leading the Big 12 in free throws, shooting 90.2 percent in 13 games played, as of December 31.