When Evelyn Adebayo committed to UConn in May as the first graduate transfer in program history, the hope was for her to provide a strong, veteran presence in the post to help offset the loss of Napheesa Collier. But to this point in the season, that hasn’t happened.
Instead, Adebayo has been relegated to the last player on the bench, only coming in late in the fourth quarter with the lead well in hand. Before the Christmas break, she didn’t play more than eight minutes in any game and only made a single field goal.
Pre-Christmas Adebayo had no hope of seeing any meaningful minutes — barring injuries.
“Before she left for Christmas, she was in a really bad place,” Auriemma said. “She knew she wasn’t doing anything that was going to get her on the court and she was very discouraged about it. Her work ethic and her approach to everything we did, she was going to be buried on the bench the entire season and it was going to be a wasted season for her.”
But the holiday became a crossroads for redshirt senior. The five days off gave Adebayo a chance to hit the reset button and she returned with renewed energy and a sense of purpose. It didn’t go unnoticed.
“Since she got back from Christmas, from the very first practice, there’s been a difference in her,” Auriemma said. “She and I talked when she got back and I said ‘There’s still plenty of time in the season for you to have an impact and for you to get something out of this’. Hopefully I can help her do that but she’s made the strides that we needed her to make.
“She knows how to play basketball. She’s a big body, she’s a big kid and we certainly need that. Hopefully there’s something there. But I feel better about it than I did a month ago, let’s put it that way.”
Camara’s status uncertain
When Batouly Camara underwent a left knee scope in November, the expected recovery time was set at six to eight weeks. After that passed, it was pushed back to January. Now, the team is removing any timeframe for Camara’s recovery.
“I don’t think there’s any timetable (for Camara),” Auriemma said. “We just ask her all the time ‘How do you feel?’ When we get the word she’s good to go...but right now it’s a little bit of time. A little bit here, a little bit there. But I have no idea when the actual day is going to be when she’s full go. No idea.”
The last two times UConn opened part of practice to the media, Camara has been seen lightly jogging and stretching but is yet to participate in any drills.
Knee injuries have plagued the Kentucky transfer’s time at UConn. She missed the beginning of her redshirt sophomore season with a knee sprain/bone bruise and sprained her MCL early last season as well. Camara has played in just 48 games over her three years in Storrs, averaging 1.4 points and 1.2 rebounds in 4.8 minutes per game.
To put it lightly, Memphis hasn’t given UConn much of a fight in any of their 10 matchups since the inception of the AAC. The Huskies have scored at least 80 points in every game while the Tigers have never hit 50 points. The smallest margin of victory is 34 points.
Considering Memphis comes in with an 0-3 record in the conference play, UConn’s spotless record in AAC play is probably safe.
- With a victory, UConn will extend its win streak against unranked opponents to 199 games. The Huskies’ last loss to a team outside the top 25 came to St. John’s on Senior Day in 2012.
- After falling to Baylor last week, UConn dropped to No. 4 in the AP poll. South Carolina took over the top spot while the Lady Bears were No. 2 and Stanford was No. 3.
- Christyn Williams was named to the AAC’s honor roll after averaging 21 points, seven rebounds and three assists in the Huskies’ last two games.
How to watch
Time: 8 p.m.
Location: Elma Roane Field House, Memphis, Tennessee