May 22, 2022

How Paige Bueckers’ surgical procedure and new timetable for return affect UConn

With the information that UConn sophomore guard Paige Bueckers had knee surgery Monday and is anticipated to have an eight-week restoration, her soonest attainable return now initiatives because the second week of February.

Bueckers had an anterior tibial plateau fracture and lateral meniscus tear repaired in her left knee, so this must be thought-about an optimistic projection. But when this timetable proves correct, what’s going to she miss, and what’s going to the No. 7 Huskies do in her absence?

Bueckers already was anticipated to overlook two huge nonconference video games vs. No. 6 Louisville on Sunday and at Oregon on Jan. 17. Now she additionally will probably miss the remainder of the nonconference slate, at No. 1 South Carolina on Jan. 27 and the Feb. 6 matchup with Tennessee, which comes proper on the finish of Bueckers’ present estimated restoration.

UConn went 1-1 in its first two video games with out Bueckers, who was injured Dec. 5 in a victory over Notre Dame. UConn lost 57-44 to Georgia Tech on Dec. 9, snapping a 239-game successful streak in opposition to unranked opponents and prompting what felt like a postgame wake from coach Geno Auriemma, who mentioned he did not foresee the Huskies with the ability to repair points they had been having.

Two days later, issues appeared extra upbeat after the Huskies’ second-half comeback in a 71-61 victory over UCLA. However the upcoming matchup with Louisville is anticipated to be extra like Georgia Tech due to the Cardinals’ sturdy protection. The Huskies shot simply 31 p.c from the sphere in opposition to the Yellow Jackets.

That quantity went as much as 41 p.c in opposition to UCLA, with the Huskies’ three wholesome guards — Christyn Williams, Evina Westbrook and Caroline Ducharme — a mixed 14-of-41 (34.1%) from the sphere.

The strain is on these gamers with not simply Bueckers but additionally guards Nika Mühl and Azzi Fudd out with accidents. Muhl, sidelined since Dec. 8, is anticipated to overlook several weeks with a foot injury, and Fudd, out since Dec. 1, is anticipated to have the stress reaction in her foot reevaluated shortly. Limiting turnovers and hitting exterior photographs are two strengths we have way back come to anticipate that UConn at all times has, however these issues now cannot be taken without any consideration.

One of many greatest positives out of the UCLA victory was the efficiency of ahead Dorka Juhász, the switch from Ohio State who had her greatest recreation but in a Huskies uniform. Her 16 factors (on 5 of 5 capturing) and 16 rebounds had been indicative of the flexibility of the two-time All-Huge Ten first teamer.

If she will be able to preserve producing, it would make an enormous distinction for UConn, and provides assist to fellow forwards Olivia Nelson-Ododa and Aaliyah Edwards. The Huskies are additionally nonetheless awaiting the return of injured ahead Aubrey Griffin.

Oregon has gone by its personal struggles with accidents to key gamers, however we’ll see how wholesome the Geese are by mid-January. The Huskies misplaced 73-57 to South Carolina on Nov. 22 within the Battle four Atlantis within the Bahamas — even with Bueckers taking part in. The Gamecocks have been with out injured guard Destanni Henderson lately, however their depth is so good, they’ve continued to cruise on the high spot.

Bueckers hit an enormous shot late in final yr’s 67-61 victory at Tennessee, however she would wish a little bit of an accelerated therapeutic interval to have the ability to face the Girl Vols — who’re tied on the No. 7 spot with UConn on this week’s AP ballot — this yr. That Feb. 6 matchup shall be UConn’s final nonconference recreation, so no matter floor it does not make up nationally by then when it comes to NCAA event seeding won’t be made up.

And no person can simply pencil in Huge East victories for UConn, both. The Huskies have not misplaced to a convention opponent since they had been within the outdated Huge East in 2013. May that streak come to an finish throughout Bueckers’ absence?

At the moment, DePaul (9-2), Marquette (8-2) and Creighton (6-2) are off to the most effective begins within the Huge East, together with 6-2 UConn. The Huskies will face all of them quickly: They host Marquette on Dec. 29, journey to DePaul on Dec. 31 and host Creighton on Jan. 9.

If Bueckers does return in eight weeks, she can be again for the rematches with DePaul (Feb. 11) and Marquette (Feb. 13). In all, beneath that situation she would return with seven video games left on the regular-season schedule.

The Huskies will hope for the most effective when it comes to Bueckers’ therapeutic and return coming in time for her to nonetheless be an element this season. However for the following eight weeks, they need to firmly set up who they’re with out her.