Saturday, December 4, 2021

UConn’s Booted Women Achieve 12th National Program Title

STORRS, Connecticut (AP) – California fans are getting a little nervous. After all, the husky hasn’t won the women’s national championship since 2016.

Connecticut finished second this season, adding the nation’s best rookie, quarterback Azzie Fudd, to last year’s undergraduate team bringing Paige Buckers back to last year’s undergraduate team, along with all the other starters who made it to the 13th consecutive program finals. … Four.

But coach Geno Auremma says he is baffled by the idea that anything other than the 12th NCAA title on his program will be a disappointment.

“I enjoy it because most people, if they won one in 1916, would be happy to win the second,” he said. “But what it is, it is. We created it. We did it. We own it and we embrace it.”

The Husky has 14 players and is expected to see at least 11 playing time this season.

Along with Buckers, UConn is led by three high school students – Christine Williams, former Schoolgirl of the Year; Evina Westbrook, Tennessee who decided to play for another year rather than participate in the WNBA Draft; and the Oliva Nelson-Ododa Center.

“We have depth,” Williams said. “I feel like we missed that in the Final Four. We have a lot of guys who can do a lot of different things. And this year he is very competitive. “

Here are some keys to the season of UConn:

GO TO PAGE

Buckers returned to practice after having surgery on her right ankle in April.

She was unanimously voted to the AP All-America preseason team, and Auremma said she looks better than last season when she led the team in points (20 per game), assists (5.8 per game), interceptions ( 66) and 3. Shooting Percentage (46.4%) and was voted AP National Player of the Year.

“Paige is Paige,” Auremma said. “Paige is better than she was last year. Paige is feeling a little more comfortable than last year. She’s not as hesitant to give injections as she did last year. “

FRONT DEPTH

Nelson-Ododa, Big East defensive player of the year last year, and sophomore Aliya Edwards, who spent part of the offseason with the Canadian Olympic team, served last season. They will be joined by Dorca Juhas, 6’5, from Ohio, where she averaged 14.6 points and 11.1 rebounds last season.

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“She’s super talented,” said Nelson-Ododa. “She has a very versatile skill set, so being able to compete with her and fight that way (in practice) I think made us both better.”

FRESHMEN

Fudd, preseason freshman of the year in the Big East, leads yet another top recruiting class that includes striker Amary DeBerry 6-5; 6: 2 striker Sailor Poffenbarger; and 6-2 guard Caroline Ducharme.

Ducharm is expected to compete immediately for playing time after impressing coaches and teammates this summer.

“It will be interesting to see where she fits because I see that she plays a really prominent role in our team,” said Auremma. “What does that mean? I don’t know, but she’s very good.

Poffenbarger, who joined the team in January after graduating early from high school, is returning with a back injury that prevented her from participating in summer training. Deberry is expected to start the season on the bench behind three of the team’s other players.

SUPPORT

Westbrook, sophomore quarterback Nick Mule, sophomore striker Mir McLean, and junior striker Aubrey Griffin may see their minutes decrease in varying degrees as newcomers progress.

Westbrook said there were fierce battles in training, in which players competed for places.

“We gnaw each other’s throats,” she said. “Competitiveness and sharpness … it’s a whole different level.”

But she also said that after they “scold each other” in training, they get together and discuss what is for dinner and plans for the evening.

“We are down to each other’s throats because we know it will make us better,” she said. “But we are family. We are more than family. “

UConn kicks off the season on November 14 at Hartford vs. Arkansas, a program that earned the Huskies their only regular-season defeat a year ago.

___

More AP Women’s College Basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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