Colorado women's basketball could be 'significant contender' in March

Oct 10, 2023; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Colorado Buffaloes coach JR Payne during Pac-12 women's basketball
Oct 10, 2023; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Colorado Buffaloes coach JR Payne during Pac-12 women's basketball / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

BuffsBeat's Jason Jones believes there's talent in all the right places on the Colorado women's basketball roster; enough to make the Buffs a "significant contender" come tournament time, for the last time in the Pac-12 tournament and for another go-round in the Big Dance.

"These Buffs have won games from the PG position (Sherrod, Wetta), from shooters (Frida “3da” Formann, Sara-Rose Smith), as well as front court dominance (Aaronetta Vonleh, Quay Miller, and Brianna McLeod)," Jones prefaced before saying, "There is veteran leadership everywhere on this team. From Sherrod to Miller to Formann, there is leadership both vocal and by example all over the court. Even the transfers Vonleh and Smith have seamlessly fit in with the culture of the program and their contributions are noteworthy.

"With the wins stacking up, it means higher attendance at the CUEC. The January 19th matchup against UCLA was not only the first sellout in a long time, it was the largest crowd to watch a women’s Colorado Buffaloes game ever. The Buffs are legit right now. Get to know this team because in a month they could be a significant contender as we get ready for NCAA Tournament time."

Colorado women's basketball head coach JR Payne has tunnel vision mindset

JR Payne is not deterred in the mission: focusing on the opponent ahead and not getting too overzealous about the future. Following CU's win over Stanford and before the Buffs' loss to UCLA, Payne had called her shot about being capable of losing to Pac-12 competition.

"The truth is, I don’t have to do anything to keep them grounded,” Payne said (h/t BuffZone). “They are naturally grounded women. That’s who they are. They work, they’re blue collar, they’re tough. They clearly recognize that we can beat anybody we play, but we also could lose to anybody else on our schedule.”

In a season that has featured a little "Prime Effect" of its own for the women -- including Coach Prime's daughter Shelomi Sanders debuting and Colorado becoming a top-three team -- it could be on the hardwood where the Buffs first become a national power in the first second full year A.D. (after Deion).