‘This season has been unlike any other’

Dec 2, 2022; Storrs, Connecticut, USA; UConn Huskies guard Nika Muhl (10), forward Aaliyah Edwards (3), guard Azzi Fudd (35), forward Lou Lopez-Senechal (11), guard Paige Bueckers (5) and other team members react from the sideline after a three point basket against tight Providence Friars in the second half at Harry A. Gampel Pavilion. / David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The UConn women’s basketball had another dominant performance Tuesday night with a win over Butler to remain undefeated in Big East play so far this season.

But while the Huskies have been one of the best teams in the country, a lot of “what ifs” have been thrown around. What if Paige Bueckers played this season? What if Azzi Fudd didn’t get hurt?

Well, every team has had to deal with injuries and adversity, but for coach Chris Dailey this season feels different.

“This season has been unlike any other,” she said after Tuesday’s win. It’s worse than the COVID season. During COVID you expected someone could be out or we could be shut down. [This season] every other day, we get someone back and we lose someone.

“It makes you tougher, stronger as a group. You don’t have a choice, so when you don’t have a choice you have to figure it out and that’s what we’ve been doing.”

Dailey was coaching the team Tuesday as Geno Auriemma felt under the weather, but the team didn’t miss a beat as she improved to 16-0 as a coach with the win. UConn, again, played short-handed after losing Caroline Ducharme to a concussion but they still found a way to win and win big.

But what if they can get Fudd back sooner rather than later? The sophomore guard injured her right knee back in December and has yet to return. While UConn continues to play well without her, it wouldn’t hurt to add her 20.6 points-per-game into the mix.

Dailey gave everyone an update on the school’s star guard.

“She looks good. She has a certain limit as to what she can do and we’re building towards her return to play. But that’s above my pay grade,” Dailey said. “I wait for the doctors, trainers and Azzi. When she’s ready we’ll know it and I think she’s getting closer. We can only worry about who we have ready to go.

She added, “but it will certainly be a big help when she gets back. She’s a great shooter, give us another perimeter player and she’s a good defender. The sooner she gets back, the better it is. But we’ll be patient.”

In Fudd’s stead, UConn has received massive scoring games from a number of players including Aaliyah Edwards who dropped another 20 points on Tuesday.

Entering Tuesday, the junior forward is averaging 17.2 points and 9.8 rebounds per game this season. That includes 20-plus points in four of the team’s last five games. Dailey couldn’t help but gush over the maturation of Edwards this season.

“The consistency she’s practicing and playing with, that’s a sign of maturity. The other day against Marquette she only got five shots but she still played and did other things. She just doesn’t stop.

“A sign of maturity is you figure out other things for you to help your team win, and that’s a big part of what Aaliyah has done this year. She has figured out what to do and what we need her to do. For instance she’s our best offensive rebounder and she’s relentless. So that is a sign of maturity.”

With UConn staying patient as Fudd returns from injury, Edwards has led the Huskies to the No. 5-ranked team in the nation. They’ll look to continue their great start when they go up against Xavier on Thursday.

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