Colorado beats Sacramento State 59-45 in defensive battle

The Colorado Buffaloes men’s basketball team hosted the Sacramento State Hornets Saturday night at the CU Events Center. Colorado extended its winning streak to six games following a 75-58 victory over the Hornets.

Junior forward Tyler Bey starred in the MGM Main Event Tournament in Las Vegas on Nov. 24 and 26. The Las Vegas native recorded back-to-back double doubles in a pair of victories over Wyoming and Clemson. The Buffs were forced to come from behind against Clemson, but eventually pulled off the win in the closest margin of victory this season (71-67).

Collectively, Colorado didn’t play its best basketball on the offensive end, shooting relatively low percentages as a team in both contests at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Defense won the game for the Buffs against Clemson in the final minute, with junior guard McKinley Wright IV stripping the ball from a Tiger guard and earning a trip to the charity stripe.

Head coach Tad Boyle prioritized defense against Sacramento State, starting sophomore guard Eli Parquet instead of sophomore guard Daylen Kountz at shooting guard Saturday night. Parquet, a native of Beaumont, Texas, is known for his defensive intensity and recently his three-point shooting ability.

Boyle talked about the decision to go with Parquet over Daylen after the game. Parquet’s defense being the primary reason for the switch.

“Elijah Parquet is probably our best perimeter defender other than McKinley (Wright IV) and you could maybe make an argument for D’Shawn (Schwartz),” Boyle said. “So, we know that Eli is going to give us that (perimeter defense). “It also allows McKinley maybe, not to take a break, but McKinley is always drawing the team’s best perimeter defender, usually in the back court. So, it allows us to put Eli on that guy from the get go and hopefully get McKinley going offensively.”

Colorado forced a shot clock violation on the Hornets first possession. However, three turnovers on the Buffs’ first three possessions led to somewhat of a slow start offensively for Boyle’s squad. Wright IV scored the Buffs’ first six points with a pair of contested layups and a jump shot.  Colorado led 6-2 at the under 16 timeout.

The Buffs finished the contest with 19 turnovers and only ten assists. Sloppy play on the offensive end had Boyle upset postgame because the talent is there, it’s just a matter of execution and running quality offense.

“I need to apologize to any Buff fan that came out and watched this tonight because it was it epitome of winning ugly,” Boyle said. “We weren’t very good offensively. We all expect more of this team on the offensive end than what we got tonight. That’s the fourth game in a row, offensively (where) we have not been the team that we are in practice. The way we played tonight, I can’t give them a break for that. It’s amazing the feeling we had in the locker room, it’s almost like we felt like we lost because we all know we can be better.”

Junior forward D’Shawn Schwartz broke a scoreless drought for both teams with a difficult drive and finish at the 9:31 mark of the first half. The Buffs led 10-8. Sophomore forward Evan Battey energized the crowd with a tough and one finish with just over four minutes left in the first half. A Hornets’ dry spell the last 6:13 gave Colorado an eight-point cushion at the break.

Parquet knocked down a mid range jump shot to open the scoring for the Buffs in the second half. A Hornets’ turnover resulted in a run out and a layup for Schwartz. Colorado led by 12 early in the second half. A majority of the Buffs’ offense came out of transition. Boyle said right now opponents know that Colorado struggles in half-court offense and eventually will get beat if they don’t improve.

“They (Sacramento State) don’t press you full court,” Boyle said. “It’s all half court stuff. And look the MO to beat Colorado is to take them out of transition. Sacramento State on film was a team that we were concerned with their offensive rebounding so were talking about boxing out. Well, much like Clemson, much like Wyoming, they didn’t offensive rebound. They sprint back and take us out of transition. That’s the MO, make Colorado play in the half court and they have trouble scoring. Right now, that’s the case and everybody knows it.”

The Buffs offense found its rhythm for a couple possessions to begin the second half. Colorado played inside out, finding Bey on the inside and kicking to open shooters. Senior forward Lucas Siewert was a beneficiary of the Buffs’ ball movement and splashed home a corner three for his first points of the contest. The Brazil native scored his second bucket of the game with a layup from underneath the basket.

Sacramento State remained in striking distance despite Colorado’s uptick in offense.  At the under 12 timeout, the Buffs’ held a seven-point advantage. Colorado, once again was unable to put a full game of quality basketball together. Wright IV said after the game, “We sucked….”

“We got to do a better job of putting two halves together,” Wright IV said. “We sucked in the first half. We sucked the whole game. 19 turnovers (that’s) terrible. We got a win, but we got to be better for teams coming down the stretch.”

Turnovers plagued the Buffs’ offense late in the period. Consequently, the Hornets trailed only by single digits a majority of the final half. The Hornets cut the lead to five with over three and half minutes left, but Colorado hit three field goals in a row to end the game and pulled away. The Buffs won 59-45.

Colorado (6-0) hosts Loyola-Marymount (2-4) on Wednesday night. The tipoff is set for 8:00 p.m. MST.

 

 

Colorado uses complementary football to beat Huskies

The Colorado Buffaloes football team used an impressive performance in all three phases of the game to defeat the Huskies on senior night at Folsom Field. Execution of complementary football, or defense, offense and special teams working together, led the Buffs to an impressive victory Saturday night.

The first thing out of head coach Mel Tucker’s mouth following Saturday night’s victory over Washington had to do with Colorado’s ability to play complementary football.

“I am just really proud of our football team,” Tucker said. “We played complementary football again. Offense, defense and special teams playing together. Everybody is playing hard and playing for each other.”

Senior punter Alex Kinney pinned Washington deep on its first possession after a 60-yard punt bounced out of bounds inside the one-yard line. Colorado forced a quick three and out and set up the offense with good field position. The ensuing Buffs’ drive ended in a 22-yard field goal from freshman kicker Evan Price.

Tucker said there’s no doubt that special teams is the most important part of the game. The hidden yardage gained and lost when the special teams unit is on the field is critical in determining which team comes out on top. Tucker praised Kinney postgame.

“Alex Kinney, I mean can you say enough about him?” Tucker asked. “I mean it’s just every game, every game. He’s just very consistent. Field position is huge. A punt is the most important play in football, it’s 40 yards of field position. My hat goes off to him he did a great job.”

Senior outside linebacker Davion Taylor recorded a critical quarterback hurry that forced a red zone interception from Washington junior quarterback Jacob Eason. Pressure on the passer proved to be a catalyst for the Buffs’ successful defensive effort, pitching a first half shutout.

In the last two games Colorado’s defense has put together impressive defensive performances, limiting Stanford and Washington to two touchdowns or less after giving up 30+ points per game for a majority of the season. Tucker said he’s seen improvement from his defense in practice and in the last two games it has shown on the field.

“We’ve been getting better and improving (on defense),” Tucker said. “I said it four or five games back. I am seeing improvement in our defense. It just wasn’t showing up in the scoring. We are gaining confidence. Guys are able to stop the run and get to them on third down. Once we get them to third down, coach (Tyson) Summers and our defensive staff do a great job of putting together packages that attack protections.”

After the Stanford victory on Nov. 9 Tucker reiterated the importance of playing complementary football. The Buffs play against Stanford and versus Washington reflected Tucker’s message. Colorado used its edge in field position to capitalize on offense and keep Eason and the Huskies stagnant. The Buffs recorded four sacks and limited Washington’s rushing attack to 0.7 yards per play in the first half.

Freshman safety Mark Perry recorded three tackles for loss and two sacks in the victory. Perry said if you’re successful on early downs, third and long is exhilarating because of the pressure packages defensive coordinator Tyson Summers dials up.

“It’s really fun (on third down blitzes),” Perry said. “When we go on the field (on) third down, you see the play call (and) everybody gets excited because (if) you do your work on first and second down, third down you get to do something cool, pressures or different types of coverages. So, we really try to get them to third down so we can go on the field and do something that’s really going to work.”

A commanding performance by the offensive line in the fourth quarter allowed the Buffs to bleed the clock and ultimately secure the victory. When asked about the final drive to finish the game, Montez gave all the credit to the offensive line and sophomore running back Alex Fontenot.

“The last drive of the game had very little to do with me and a lot to do with the O-line and Alex Fontenot and how they just absolutely dominated up front,” Montez said. “I mean we would hand the ball off and those holes are so big that Alex would just go and just get busy and pick up a ton of yards and they were just happening back-to-back-to-back. So, I mean I’m just really proud of our guys up front and how they played and how they finished.”

Colorado will travel to Salt Lake City next week for a matchup against No.7 Utah on Nov. 30. The time and TV information has yet to be announced.

Freshman Jaylyn Sherrod leads Buffs to victory in exhibition

The Colorado Buffaloes women’s basketball team hosted Regis in an exhibition game Monday night in Boulder at the CU Events Center. Colorado defeated the Rangers 92-45.

Sophomore forward Peanut Tuitele opened the scoring for the Buffs following a three-minute drought to begin the game. Colorado took advantage of the size difference inside, finding junior forward Mya Hollingshed for an easy layup for the Buffs’ second basket.

Despite shooting a low percentage early, the Rangers were persistent of the glass, grabbing multiple offensive rebounds and capitalizing on the inside with second chance points. Freshman guard Jaylyn Sherrod provided a spark for the Buffs, knocking down a three, converting an and-one, and assisting on a fast break layup on three consecutive possessions. Colorado jumped out to a 14-6 lead.

Head coach JR Payne talked about Sherrod’s performance postgame. Payne said even though it’s just an exhibition, it counts in her mind.

“I mean I count that,” Payne said. “I even said in the locker room your (Jaylyn Sherrod’s) first collegiate game: 18 points, eight rebounds, six assists, one turnover, a couple blocks. It’s a great stat line and Jaylyn’s a great player. She’s going to be a great Buff for years to come.”

Regis continued to struggle on the offensive end, finishing the first quarter shooting 17 percent from the field. Sherrod led the Buffs with eight points and four rebounds after the first ten minutes. The Buffs led 20-6.

Sherrod’s playmaking continued in the second quarter, finding freshman guard Zuzanna Kulinska for an and-one to extend the Colorado lead to 16. After struggling early on, sophomore guard Emma Clarke knocked down a three to add to the already commanding lead for the Buffs.

Sherrod found senior guard Quinessa Cayloa-Do for an and-one late in the second quarter to push the Colorado lead to 30. Sherrod pulled up for a jumper with a few seconds left in the half to give the Buffs a 47-12 lead at halftime.

Sherrod admitted that she was nervous to begin the game, but after the first few plays she settled in.

“When I first started I was kind of nervous,” Sherrod said. “I told Aubrey (Knight) that I was so jittery. But, it was just good to get out there and play, being that I haven’t played in a minute, even going back to high school. So, it was just a good opportunity and a good chance to get back out there.”

Redshirt sophomore guard Aubrey Knight knocked down a jumper at the top of the key for open the third quarter scoring for the Buffaloes. A transition layup from Clarke capped a 7-0 run for Colorado. Unselfish play on the offensive end kept the Buffs efficient from the field, shooting 59 percent through three quarters.

Despite holding a 39-point lead early in the fourth quarter Colorado’s activity level remained high on both ends, grabbing multiple offensive rebounds and attacking the rim. Freshman guard Raanee Smith set up Knight for an and-one opportunity after coming up with a steal.

Payne liked the Buffs’ persistence and high energy, which translated into rebounds on both ends.

“I’m just thrilled with our effort tonight,” Payne said. “I thought we played extremely hard. We want to be the toughest, hardest-working, most disciplined team and I thought in a lot of ways we were that team tonight. (I) love our rebounding effort, to out rebound somebody by 25, especially Regis, who’s a very good rebounding team, was great.

Sherrod pushed the ball in transition and found junior forward Annika Jank for a corner three. Colorado led 87-38 late in the fourth quarter. Sherrod attacked the Regis press late and put back her own miss to give the Buffs a 50-point lead. Colorado defeated Regis 92-45.

Sherrod said after the game that she prides herself on her ability to bring a relentless energy and effort to the court and it showed Monday night.

“I pride myself on what I do best is what I bring to the team and if I don’t do my job I let my team down,” Sherrod said. “And my job is energy so bringing that to the team every night is what I pride myself on.”

The Buffs open the regular season Sunday, November 10 against New Jersey Institute of Technology in Boulder. Tip-off is set for 12 p.m. MST.

Colorado falls 35-31 to USC

The Colorado Buffaloes football team fell to the USC Trojans 35-31 on Friday night in Boulder. A lackadaisical performance in the fourth quarter allowed the Trojans to take the lead late and ultimately secure the victory.

Colorado’s defense put up little resistance on USC’s first possession. A 37-yard TD rush from sophomore wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown capped a three-play 75-yard scoring drive to put the Trojans up 7-0 less than a minute into the game. The Buffs responded with a balanced drive that stalled in the red zone and ended with a 22-yard field goal from junior kicker James Stefanou.

Freshman cornerback K.J. Trujillo intercepted USC freshman quarterback Kedon Slovis at the Buffs’ 38-yard line on the Trojans second possession. On the ensuing drive, an 18-yard back shoulder pass from redshirt senior quarterback Steven Montez to senior wide receiver Tony Brown gave the Buffs the ball at the USC two. Junior wide receiver K.D. Nixon capped the Buffs’ second offensive possession with a 7-yard TD reception. Colorado led 10-7. Montez and sophomore running back Alex Fontenot provided an offensive spark with their legs, rushing for 28 and 31 yards respectively through the first quarter.

A sack from Trujillo forced a quick USC three-and-out. The freshman from Buena Park, California stepped up for the Buffs  in the first half. Colorado needed someone to provide a spark in the secondary with junior Mekhi Blackmon out for the season due to shoulder surgery and the overall lack of depth in the secondary. Trujillo talked about the impact the defense had early.

“In the first half we executed really well,” Trujillo said. “We had a lot of three-and-outs, turnover, just a lot of big plays all around. Our d-line and linebackers were putting a lot of pressure on the quarterback allowing the secondary to execute our jobs and make it easier for us.”

The Buffs’ running back duo, Fontenot and freshman Jaren Mangham, got a steady dose of work during Colorado’s first four offensive possessions. In addition, Montez’s effectiveness rushing gave the Colorado offense balance in the first half.

A pair of receptions from junior wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. put the Buffs in scoring position with just over seven minutes left in the second quarter. Nixon put Colorado up 17-7 a few plays later with another 7-yard TD reception (his second of the game). Senior wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. and St. Brown provided the response for the Trojans. USC drove down into the red zone. Slovis connected with freshman tailback Kenan Christon for a walk-in touchdown to cut the Buffs’ lead to three (17-14) with just under three minutes left in the first half. Penalties on both sides of the ball for Colorado stalled offensive drives and extended USC possessions through the first two quarters. The Buffs clung to a three point lead at the half.

Shenault Jr. took a 71-yard slant pass to the house to open up the third quarter on the second play of the drive for the Buffs. Colorado extended their lead to ten. The Trojans responded when Slovis connected with redshirt junior wide receiver Tyler Vaugns for a 21-yard touchdown early in the third quarter. Colorado led 24-21.

Shenault Jr. rushed for 17 yards on fourth and two from inside USC territory to keep the Buffs’ second posssession of the third quarter alive. Montez mentioned that early in the game the Trojans were playing man-to-man with Shenault Jr., something the Buffs took advantage of in the first half.

“There were playing a lot of man coverage on him, anybody that knows anything about Laviska, man coverage is not for Laviska because he will tear you apart,” Montez said.

Montez capped a eight play 66-yard drive with a 17-yard TD rush to push the lead to ten. In addition to 45 rushing yards, Montez threw for over 300 yards and 3 TDs. His ability to not only run, but extend passing plays with his legs provided the Colorado offense with a much needed lift. Head coach Mel Tucker talked about Montez’s bounce-back performance following two tough losses on the road.

“It’s not the first time he has played like that this year,” Tucker said. “He has played a lot of good football for us. We had a tough stretch but, like I’ve said before, I feel like he is a good player. We have to help to play better around him. He had to make some better decisions. I have a lot of confidence in him. He works really hard. It’s important to him and he cares. He’s becoming a leader for us. I have a lot of respect for Steven for the way he’s hung in there and handled himself.”

Slovis continued to take advantage of the Buffs’ inexperience in the secondary, using the whole field to drive the football down into the red zone on the Trojans second possession of the third quarter. Freshman safety Mark Perry recorded a tackle-for-loss on a third down to push USC just outside the red zone. The Trojans missed a 40-yard field goal on the ensuing play.

Penalties continued to plague the Buffaloes in the second half, providing the Trojans with free yardage extending their offensive drives and killing the Buffs offensive momentum. Tucker said that it’s tough to win games when a team commits that many penalties.

“But you know when you have 13 penalties for 100 yards, it’s just really hard to win like that,” Tucker said. “I mean every 100 yards is a touchdown. When we don’t turn the ball over and we get takeaways then we always have a chance to win and that was the case. But, we just have to be more disciplined. We got to have less penalties and we got to do our jobs a lot better.”

Colorado held a 31-28 lead with just over eight minutes left in regulation. Montez completed a 19-yard pass to Brown on third and eight to extend the Buffs’ drive. But, Colorado was unable to convert on third and four from just inside USC territory. The Buffs stayed with the air attack for most of the fourth quarter, something some people questioned after the game. When asked about if he should’ve stuck with the ground game late, Tucker said, no.

“I don’t look it like that,” Tucker said. “I thought we called a good game and we were aggressive and they were having a really hard time covering our guys. We took our shots.”

Pittman capped a four minute 90-yard drive for the Trojans with a 37-yard TD reception to give USC a 35-31 lead with 2:15 left in the game. Fontenot came up short on fourth down for the Buffs on the ensuing drive. The Trojans came away with a 35-31 road victory.

Both Tucker and Montez said after the game that, despite the loss, there some things the Buffs did well on both sides of the ball.

“We ran the ball on our terms and we were able to be efficient throwing the football,” Tucker said. “We finished in the red zone, didn’t turn the ball over. So, there were some positives there.”

Montez added that he doesn’t like the idea of a “moral victory.” He said Colorado needed to do a bit more to finish the game and come out on top.

“I mean yeah I’m not real big into moral victories.” Montez said. “I think we did some positive things, some things that we can definitely build on in the future, but just got to do a little bit more and get it done, just plain and simple that’s what it is. (We) got to do a little bit more and get it done.”

Colorado will travel to Los Angeles to play the UCLA Bruins next Saturday Nov. 2. The game time and TV coverage is still TBD.

Crafted by JUCO, Colorado guard Maddox Daniels ready for significant role with Buffs

Colorado men’s basketball junior guard Maddox Daniels grew up with a burning desire to play division one college basketball. Daniels went to high school in Beverley Hills, California alongside his twin brother, Mason. After attending prep school at Montverde Academy in Florida in hopes of garnering attention, Daniels graduated high school without a single division one offer.

Daniels and his brother went to junior college in Fort Myers, Florida at SouthWestern State College. Their, the two led the Buccaneers to a record of 60-6 in two seasons, reaching the NJCAA National Tournament quarterfinal twice. Daniels averaged over just 11 points per game and shot 42% from beyond the arc during his junior college career.

“Going in as a freshman, I was just working on my body, starting to learn the game more,” Maddox said. “I had great coaches there. Coach Marty Richter and then coach Eric Murphy. I just worked on all aspects of my game. Definitely the biggest thing was just my physicality, working on my body.”

Mason said his brother’s decision to attend college in Florida helped him further develop his game and was happy they could share the experience together.

“I definitely think that (Florida) for Maddox was one of the best decisions he’s ever made,” Mason said. “I know he’ll probably say that too, just because of the people he met and how much better he got being there. I’m just glad I could come there with him.”

His sophomore year as FSW, Daniels’ developed leadership ability. The experience Daniels gained leading a team to back to back postseason tournament appearances allowed his maturity to evolve in just two years in JUCO with the Buccaneers.

“My sophomore year, I just really felt comfortable on the court and I was leading,” Daniels said. “It was really great to see hard work pay off because coming out of high school no offers, went to prep school, nothing and I just kept working, trust the process and that’s what I’m going to continue to do here.”

CU basketball head coach Tad Boyle and assistant coach Mike Rohn made an initial impact on Daniels after spending time in Fort Myers for the second half of Maddox’s sophomore season. Daniels said once he took a visit to Boulder, he knew it was the place for him.

“Coach Rohn and coach Boyle started talking to me toward the second half of the (junior college) season in the spring and they both came down … to see me in Fort Myers,” Daniels said. “I really liked the school. (Rohn and Boyle) were just there consistently all through the second half of the season, through the playoffs, through the wins, through the losses, through everything. Once I came and took my visit (to Colorado) and met all the players, all the coaches and everybody else beyond coach Boyle and coach Rohn, I knew this was the place to be. It was an easy decision.”

Health, wellness and fitness are integral parts of the lives of Daniels and his brother. The twins feed off and motivate each other in these areas and life in general. Mason said because of Boulder’s notoriety as a hub for health and wellness, Daniels felt right at home.

“I was happy for him,” Mason said. “I remember he called me on the phone and he was like, ‘man, it’s amazing here.’ We have a lot of other interests apart from basketball and we enjoy taking care our bodies and stuff like that. So, this was something that, being in Boulder, a health and fitness capital, was a big-time thing for him. He loved the coaches. They really wanted him, so I just told him ‘yeah bro, it seems like a no-brainer.’”

Since arriving on campus early this summer, Daniels has made the improving his defensive skillset a priority. He said there a few small details to learn that will come with practice, but defense and decision-making were the focus over the summer leading up to the Buffs’ exhibition with Pomona-Pitzer on October 26.

“I would definitely say defensively as far as just guarding the ball,” Daniels said. “I need to get better as far as positioning, the little things that are different from what I’m used to as far as playing help side defense. But, I would say defensively and making quicker decisions.”

Daniels added that from an offensive standpoint, it’ll start with perimeter shooting, providing a spark for the Buffs by moving without the ball and catching and shooting.

“Definitely it’s going to start with being able to bring in shooting on the perimeter, playing with confidence,” Daniels said. “That’s the biggest thing we talked about, being a perimeter presence that spaces the floor. When I get a look, just knocking it down be confident about it. And improve on my own game as we go, whatever the team needs. We’re focused on winning games, so whatever that entails that’s what I want to do.”

Daniels said it’ll be important for him to “fit in smoothly”. The 6-foot 6-inch forward from Suwanee, Georgia will likely spell junior forward D’Shawn Schwartz and sophomore guard Daylen Kountz, who Boyle mentioned as a guy that’ll play a larger role for the Buffs this season.

Because of his size, Daniels should be able to guard the one through the four defensively, something that will allow him to see more playing time for a deep and experienced Colorado team.

D’Shawn Schwartz looks to solidify his role as a third option for Buffs

Junior guard D’Shawn Schwartz took a big step from freshman to sophomore year. He started 35 games on the wing for the Buffs last season, averaging 9.2 points and 3.7 rebounds per game, compared to just 3.4 points per game his freshman year. Schwartz’s production increased in the Pac-12 and postseason play in 2018, scoring in double digits during the three NIT matchups.

According to Colorado head coach Tad Boyle, Schwartz had an effective offseason headed into 2019, one that should put him position to be the third option offensively, alongside junior forward Tyler Bey and junior point guard, McKinley Wright IV.

“He (D’Shawn Schwartz) has had as good of an offseason as anybody in our program,” Boyle said. “He’s playing with a high degree of confidence right now and I think he’s, he’s going to be a guy, I think McKinley and Tyler being first team all-league guys, we know what they’re capable of and we know what we expect of them. I think D’Shawn has got the ability to really step his game up and be that third option.”

Schwartz’s shooting has stood out over the summer and so far in preseason. He should provide a major boost for a Colorado team that finished tenth in the Pac-12 last season, shooting just 32 percent from downtown. Schwartz along with senior guard Shane Gatling will be the go to three-point shooters for the Buffs in 2019-20.

“When we looked at all the shots we took in the preseason in the workouts, he was by far our best in terms of overall shooting,” Boyle said. Defensively and offensively he’s playing with a lot of confidence.”

In addition to improving his accuracy from deep, Schwartz made a purposeful effort in transforming his body and getting in shape for the upcoming season. Tad Boyle talked about Schwartz’ physical evolution this offseason.

“He’s physically a lot stronger and bigger,” Boyle said. Just the natural maturation (and) the work he’s put in with coach Englehart in the weight room (has paid off).”

Schwartz echoed Boyle’s thoughts and was quick to mention strength and conditioning coach Steve Englehart, who played a key role in Schwartz’ offseason transformation.

“I would say the weight room (on areas of offseason improvement),” Schwartz said. “Shout out to Steve because he really put a lot of emphasis on working on my lower body (and) upper body, trying to get my vertical better. I think I got really in shape in the offseason, that was something I was really focusing on, just trying to be in the best shape of my college career.”

Headed into this season Schwartz said he wants to be a guy that his teammates can look to as a leader. Schwartz’ jump in productivity last season came in part because former guard, Namon Wright missed the second half of the 2018-19 season with a foot injury. This year, because of his drastic improvement in his sophomore campaign, Schwartz is expected to be an integral part for the Buffs’ both offensively and defensively.

“(I’m) just trying to change my mindset from being a guy in the backseat to just trying to be one of those guys that people can look to for help or if they want watch somebody who leads by example,” Schwartz said. “I kind of want to be that guy this year.”

When asked about the evolution of his game since arriving on campus in 2017, Schwartz said it’s a product of going up against stiff competition every day in practice. Playing in the Pac-12 year after year has helped to craft his game into what it is today.

“I think (it) comes from just confidence and just playing at this level every day,” Schwartz said. “Going up against guys like Tyler Bey and everybody on this team, playing against hard defense made me want to become a better defender and (improve) all those facets of my game.”

Schwartz’s length defensively allows him to guard pretty much all five positions, something that frequently is overlooked when evaluating repertoire both offensively and defensively. His physical improvements in the offseason put him in position to be a solid option defensively given his length a six foot seven inches. With all the focus on Bey and Wright, expect Schwartz to take on an even more expanded role for Boyle’s Buffaloes in 2019-20 and be a consistent contributor on both sides of the ball.

Driven by her older brother, Haileigh Adams eyes professional soccer

Growing up the younger sister of a Canadian Football League quarterback, Haileigh Adams admitted she always felt in her brother’s shadow. Her brother, Vernon, passed for over 5,000 yards and threw nearly 50 touchdowns in his final two seasons in high school. At that time Haileigh Adams said that almost no one knew her by her first name, just as Vernon’s sibling.

“All the time people would come up to me, (and say) ‘oh you’re Vernon Adams’ little sister,’” Adams said. To that she would always respond, “no, I’m Haileigh Adams.”

But Adams said she is proud of her brother, who is now in his fourth year in the CFL and looking to make a name for himself at the professional level. It’s a drive that has sparked motivation for Adams to pursue a similar path with her passion: soccer. Now a sophomore defender for the University of Colorado women’s soccer team, Adams is eyeing the big leagues post-college.

“(Vernon) motivates me so much,” Adams said. “Me and him are very competitive, so every time we’re both back home we’re both trying to beat each other in races, in anything. We’ll go out and we’ll play football sometimes, we’ll play soccer sometimes, we just try to beat each other.”

It’s a sibling rivalry that is alive and well today.

“(Haileigh) thinks she’s a better athlete than me,” Vernon laughed. “Low key she is.”

Haileigh Adams’ soccer journey began in high school, where she steadily improved, scoring two goals and being named the most inspirational player during her freshman year. A year later, she scored five goals and earned the Defensive Player of the Year award. Toward the end of her sophomore season, she tore her ACL and consequently had to sit out games while she went through rehab during her junior year. The injury occurred at a critical time and led to only a couple of schools keeping tabs on her as a potential recruiting target.

Adams said there was a time when she thought she’d never get back to where she was after tearing her ACL.

“It was a big step back,” Adams said. “It took me forever to get back. I wasn’t very confident. And then my coach, he just threw me up top. He (said) you have the speed. Although I didn’t have it at the time. I don’t know why he threw me up  there, but he did and it actually turned out pretty well for our team.”

Adams switched to forward her senior year and scored 14 goals with 10 assists, earning first team All-Conference and conference MVP.

Portland State was a school eyeing Adams, despite her ACL tear. Vernon, while at Eastern Washington, reached out to then Portland State recruiting coordinator Justin Wagar, to convince him to bring Haileigh to the university. However, with Wagar 14 years into his career, he was looking for a change. After Portland State’s head coach suddenly retired, Wagar landed a spot at Grambling State, bringing Adams with him.

Adams earned second team all-conference honors her freshman year at Grambling State and first team her sophomore year. She was the first player in the Southwestern Athletic Conference to earn an invite to the U19 United States Women’s National Team Training Camp in 2018. Following in her older brother’s footsteps, Adams will also finish her collegiate career at a Pac-12 school with professional aspirations.

“I want to play better soccer,” Adams said. “I want to get better and I want to play after college. I felt like CU was the perfect place to help me get there and prove my skills because when I came here I definitely learned a lot that I need to know.”

Colorado head coach Danny Sanchez was thrilled to add a player of Adams caliber prior to the 2019 season. Sanchez said Adams will likely be a large part of CU’s back end in the future.

“I think she’ll play a big role going forward for us,” Sanchez said. “(She’s) super positive, technical and very coachable. We feel she’s a player that’s definitely going to help us.”

Buffs sweep Campbell, finish Colorado Classic undefeated

The Colorado women’s volleyball team faced Campbell in the final match of the Colorado Classic. CU dominated UMBC on Saturday in their earlier match, sweeping the Retrievers 3-0. The Buffs defeated Campbell on Saturday night in four sets to finish the tournament undefeated.

Senior outside hitter Justine Spann was key for the Buffaloes throughout the tournament recording 21 and 18 kills against Oakland and UMBC respectively. Multiple players starred for the Buffs in the first two games of the tournament in addition to Spann. As a team, Colorado broke four school records in the 3-1 win over Oakland on Friday night, including freshman middle blocker Sterling Parker, who became just the third player in CU history to record seven kills on seven swings.

The Buffs’ final match against Campbell started fast. It was a tightly contested match throughout the early part of the first set. Two straight kills from Spann gave Colorado a 9-7 lead. A couple service errors and errant hits from the Fighting Camels allowed CU to jump out to a double-digit lead in the first set. Colorado took the first set easily 25-10.

Two straight kills from Parker gave the Buffs a 7-3 lead in the second set. The duo of Parker and Spann led the way for the Buffs in the second set. A kill from span gave CU a 23-13 lead late in the second set. Colorado took the second set 25-14 and took a commanding 2-0 lead.

Campbell responded in the third set, keeping the match tightly contested through the first ten points. Two straight kills from Spann in the first set gave the Buffaloes a 9-6 lead. Parker, Spann and freshman outside hitter Jill Schneggenberger kept the Buffs on top through a majority of the third set. The Fighting Camels came back and took a 19-18 lead late in the third set. Colorado responded courtesy of two straight kills from Spann. CU led 20-19. A kill from Parker gave the Buffs the third set and they completed the sweep.

Redshirt sophomore middle blocker Meegan Hart was named the MVP of the tournament. The sophomore recorded hitting percentage above .600 throughout the three games. Hart, a transfer from Iowa State, talked about what it meant to her to deliver a wonderful performance not only against Campbell, but UMBC and Oakland as well, only ten games into her Colorado career.

“I means a lot,” Hart said. “It’s really special to me. My teammates have been amazing, obviously couldn’t have done it without them. They’re passing was great.”

Sophomore setter Jenna Ewert talked about how the Buffs have struggled offensively so far this season. Saturday’s two matches was a significant improvement compared to the first several games.

“We haven’t passed that well all season.” Ewert said. “I don’t think I’ve ever played in a game where we’ve passed that well, so that was a new feeling for me. It was definitely a lot of fun to have that much freedom. “(There) was a different type of connection with the hitters. You all have the confidence and… you kind of get into a groove. That’s a special thing that you don’t always get to experience.”

Head coach Jesse Mahoney talked about how the Buffs maintained a high level of intensity despite playing earlier in the day on Saturday and Saturday night.

“I thought it was a good match, especially after playing three (matches) on the weekends,” Mahoney said. “I thought our team did a really nice job to come back mentally and physically and start that match out on a really high level. We sustained that throughout the match.”

Mahoney talked about how the Buffs can use their success in the Colorado Classic as a building block headed into conference play. The Buffs face Utah to begin conference play, who began the year with wins over seventh ranked Kentucky and No. 23 Cal Poly.

“They (Utah) have one of the best players in our conference in my opinion in Danny Barton,” Mahoney said. “They redshirted one of the best middle’s in our conference last year due to injury. She’s back. I think that makes them better. They have a top ten win under their belt this season, so they’re really good.”

The Buffs will Travel to Salt Lake City next week for a Wednesday night matchup against the Utes. The game starts at 7 p.m. MST.

Rams prevail over No. 19 Buffs in inaugural Golden Spike Trophy match

The Colorado Buffaloes women’s volleyball team hosted Colorado State Friday night at CU Events Center. Colorado State defeated the Buffs 3-2 in five sets.

The Buffs traveled for Fort Collins Thursday, losing to Rams in three sets. Mistakes plagued Colorado on Thursday night and the team suffered its first loss of the season after starting the season 5-0. The Buffs hoped to rebound against the Rams at home. Friday night’s game in Boulder was the inaugural match for Golden Spike Trophy, a match between the two top teams in the state.

Senior libero Rachel Whipple talked about the team’s poor play Thursday night against CSU and how they wanted to come out on Friday and play a complete, sound match.

“I think we just came together as a team and recognized that how we played last night want anywhere near our potential,” Whipple said. “We made sure we created a positive environment after that match and all throughout today. We really energized ourselves in the locker room and throughout our warm-up and just believed in ourselves that we are a good team.”

Colorado started fast courtesy of senior outside hitter Justine Spann. Spann recorded two straight blocks for the Buffs to give Colorado the edge early. Following a sloppy performance Thursday night in Fort Collins, the Buffs rebounded, winning the first set 25-11 in part due to multiple service errors by the Rams.

 

Colorado State responded in the second set, scoring the first seven points. Two kills from senior setter Katie Oleksak propelled the Rams to an early 9-2 start. For the Buffs, redshirt sophomore middle blocker Danielle Price provided a spark in the second set, recording two blocks and a kill. Colorado came back to tie the second set at 20. A kill from redshirt senior middle blocker Kirstie Hillier gave the Rams the second set 25-23.

Colorado State used the momentum following a victory in the second set to defeat the Buffs in the third set 25-19. The Buffs responded and took the fourth set 25-20.

Redshirt junior outside hitter Breana Runnels starred for the Rams, recording a game-high 16 kills. The Rams defeated the Buffs and took the match in five sets.

Despite the loss, head coach Jesse Mahoney liked the way Colorado responded following Thursday night’s loss to the Rams in Fort Collins. The Buffs put together solid sequences of plays on Friday to force the fifth set.

“Last night (Thursday night) was a really rough match for us,” Mahoney said. “We struggled to respond to the pressure that Colorado State put us in last night. I thought we responded really well today (Friday night). I thought we played really good volleyball for long stretches. Unfortunately, we had multiple point runs where we just couldn’t get out of certain rotations and that happened in every set that we lost.”

Next up the Buffs will host the Colorado Classic beginning Friday, Sept. 20th. Campbell, Oakland University and UMBC will participate in the tournament along with Colorado. The first match for the Buffs will take place Friday Sept. 20th at 7 p.m. MST against the Oakland Golden Grizzlies.

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