Buffs return to Lubbock for preseason WNIT

LUBBOCK, Texas— It’s been over a decade since the Colorado women’s basketball team made the trip to Northwest Texas. “Avatar” was the highest-grossing film and “Tik Tok” by Ke$ha was the #1 song in America.

It was January 10, 2010. The Buffaloes, led by then-head coach Kathy McConnel-Miller, were making their final stop at the Big 12 Conference in Lubbock. Bianca Smith led CU by 18 points off the bench in a losing effort, 74-61. TTU made one final trip to Boulder in 2011 before the 22-game streak stalled.

That will change this week when the Buffs and Lady Raiders make acquaintances again on Wednesday (18:00 MT) in WNIT’s final game of preseason. But first, the Buffaloes take on Louisiana, a new WNIT foe, on Tuesday (3:30 p.m. PT).

“I think there’s probably only three or four of our players who would remember that game [against Louisiana],” head coach JR Payne commented. “But [we] definitely [remember] the style of play – undersized, very athletic, rough and tough. They take a lot of chargers and try to frustrate you defensively. All those things that I think we remember.”

A buff that had a memorable game against the Ragin’ Cajuns in this 2021 WNIT game was Frida Formann. Formann, then a freshman, scored 14 points and hit four 3-pointers in CU’s 68-45 win in Collierville, Tennessee. Tayanna Jones and Charlotte Whittaker are the other two remaining buffs from the WNIT 2021.

The Buffs are playing back-to-back games, taking on the Ragin’ Cajuns against Texas Tech a little over 24 hours after the tip. Colorado will look at the early-season Test as a chance to showcase the depth of the team.

“We have to focus on what we’re doing well right now,” Payne said of the quick turnaround. “I feel like we’re really deep. We’ll be able to show our depth, but it will definitely be important because at this level it’s really difficult to play back-to-back. I think it’s good for us that we have depth that we trust and believe in.”

Colorado hasn’t fared well in its last eight trips to Lubbock. The Buffs are 1-7 against their former Big 12 rivals and only 5-17 overall. The Lady Raiders are starting the season 1-0 and looking to improve on their 11-19 finish a year ago.

Although the two teams haven’t played in 12 years, there is a fraction of the familiarity between the two programs.

“We don’t even play the same opponents that often, so you don’t see them play that often,” Payne explained. “Interestingly, we recruited some of their players. That’s a bit familiar. I think this is going to be a really fun duel between the two old Big 12 teams.”

Both of Colorado’s games at Lubbock will be streamed online at CUBuffs.com/WatchWBB. Cory Lopez and Carol Callan will be streaming on Tuesday. On Wednesday, Ron Thulin and Brandi Poole will be on the phone for ESPN+. Both games will be broadcast on the Colorado Radio Network.