Kansas-Colorado Preview

Redshirt freshman Arielle Roberson is living out her very own

silver linings playbook.

Shortly after arriving at Colorado last season, she tore her

left labrum, requiring season-ending surgery, something she now

says made her both a better player and a better person.

“It changed my perspective on things,” Roberson said. “Playing

is a huge opportunity, it’s a blessing. … I think it opened my

eyes to a lot more, just in life, to being grateful for every

little thing that you get to do, for waking up in the morning, for

being able to go to sleep at night.”

That first week after her operation she mostly stayed in bed,

homesick and crying herself to sleep. Luckily, her older brother

Andre is a star forward on the Colorado men’s basketball team. So,

he was there for her, bringing dinner by her dorm, helping out with

her homework, anything to keep her spirits up.

“He made sure he texted me, he called me, checked up on me like

a nice, protective big brother,” Roberson said with a wide smile

Friday before watching Andre’s Buffaloes play Illinois in the men’s

NCAA field.

Arielle’s team, seeded fifth in the Norfolk Regional, faces No.

12 seed Kansas (18-13) in the NCAA women’s tournament Saturday in

Boulder in the Buffs’ first NCAA game in nine years.

After a summer filled with pickup games, H-O-R-S-E and “21”

against Andre back in their hometown of San Antonio, Roberson

returned to school and worked her way back into playing shape.

She was named the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year after averaging

12.1 points – second on the team behind Chucky Jeffery (13.9) – and

6.0 rebounds and leading the Buffaloes (25-6) to a No. 19 ranking

and a 13-5 mark in the ultra-competitive Pac-12. She set a school

record by scoring in double figures in her first 13 games.

Roberson said all those hours on the court last summer facing

her brother, who’s a half-foot taller at 6-7, paid off. So did

sitting out last year, ironically.

“She was very, very engaged,” Buffaloes coach Linda Lappe said.

“She did her rehab during practice. She made sure she watched and

she understood. She’s very perceptive. She understood what our team

was lacking last year and something that maybe she could bring this

year, part of that is consistency, part of that is competitive

fire.”

Lappe said Roberson was able to see the game from a coach’s

perspective last season.

Sitting on the bench, she also worked on her shot. Yes, her

shot.

“Even before she could stand she would sit in a chair and she

would shoot. And work on her form,” Lappe said. “She did anything

that she could do basketball-wise before she could even be on the

court, so she kept her touch. I think it really helped her shot.

She shot it pretty well this year, a lot better than she ever did

in high school. She utilized that year to get better at

something.”

Kansas coach Bonnie Henrickson lost out in recruiting Roberson

in large part because Andre was already in Boulder and the siblings

figured their parents, John (basketball) and Lisa (volleyball), who

were both student-athletes at New Mexico State, could get to more

of their games if they were on the same campus.

“Arielle is a phenomenal player,” Henrickson said. “We recruited

her and thought she’d be a great player in our league. She

certainly has done everything we thought she’d be capable of. she

plays both the 3 and the 4, she can shoot the 3. She can put it on

the floor. She’s a tough kid.”

The Jayhawks were somewhat of a surprise to make the NCAA field

this season, and they were one of the last teams in last year

before advancing all the way to the regional semifinals.

Coming from the top-rated RPI conference in the Big 12 and with

star senior Angel Goodrich, a similar performance wouldn’t be a

surprise.

Goodrich is averaging 14.2 points, 7.0 assists, 3.6 rebounds and

2.9 steals. She averaged 23.3 points over the three NCAA tournament

games last season while shooting 50.8 percent (30 for 59).