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UConn WBB Weekly: Azzi Fudd’s theory about Paige Bueckers plus other leftovers from the Huskies’ summer session

Bonus content from our coverage of UConn women’s basketball’s first month of workouts.

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Welcome to the UConn WBB Weekly, a recap of everything that happened in the world of UConn women’s basketball over the past week.

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Azzi Fudd’s theory about Paige Bueckers; NIL and international players, plus leftovers from the Huskies’ summer session

Evina Westbrook’s breakdown of all the personalities marked our final story in our coverage about UConn women’s basketball’s summer session. While we wrote about a lot of different players and storylines, not everything can fit into one story. Sometimes, good stuff gets left on the cutting floor, whether it be a funny quote, interesting anecdote or something different.

This is a collection of everything that didn’t make it into a larger piece but is still worth sharing.

Nika’s homecoming

Nika Mühl’s younger sister, Hana, committed to the University of Illinois in late June and will join her sister stateside as part of the Illini’s class of 2022. Nika couldn’t be more excited.

“I’m just so proud of her because her process has been really hard with COVID and everything,” she said. “So just to have that feeling of ‘Okay’, like you’re settled. She loves the place, they love her. They’re very nice people. She didn’t get to visit yet so I can’t wait to hear from her what that’s going to be like. It’s just, you know, watching my little sister through a whole process that I’ve been through, it’s beautiful. I’m so proud of her.”

The same day the players spoke to the media, UConn announced a homecoming game for Olivia Nelson-Ododa at Georgia Tech in December. Mühl won’t get a game in front of her friends and family since the Huskies won’t travel all the way to Croatia. But when someone suggested UConn should play Illinois so the sister could face off, Mühl greeted the idea with an excited squeal.

“Yes, yes,” she said. We’re gonna have a talk (with Geno). I feel like that’s gonna happen. I hope it’s gonna happen. I hope so.”

Nika’s summer plans

Mühl and her fellow freshmen class’ first year was about as bizarre as could be. The players took all their classes online, so they didn’t go anywhere else on campus besides their apartments and the gym. Mühl even said the only non-basketball places on campus she knows how to get to are Starbucks and library.

On top of that, because the season didn’t begin until mid-December in 2020, the freshmen didn’t have to balance basketball with school their first semester. Once spring classes started up, Mühl admitted she didn’t keep up with her academics as well as she should’ve.

“I’m not sure honestly what I did second semester. I don’t think it was that good,” she said. “There was a lot going on the second semester but academics [are] academics. We have to do it, that’s also very important part of this whole journey so we’re all working hard there too.”

Mühl did better in the summer session with A’s in Sociology as well as Mind and Body Connection.

Shortly after those classes ended, the players returned home for their final break before the fall semester — and with it, the new season — begins. Mühl planned on using that free time to enjoy summer.

“I’m excited. I’m definitely gonna have fun, practice, work and everything that we’ve been working on here,” she said. “Just keeping that same pace, working at the same pace so I can come here ready. But I’m definitely gonna have fun. Go out to sea, [hang out] on the beach.”

International players left out of NIL

On July 12, UConn student-athletes were officially allowed sign endorsements, hire agents and more after both Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont and the UConn Board of Trustees approved name, image and likeness (NIL) policies.

UConn’s American student-athletes were allowed to do so, that is. As it stands, Aaliyah Edwards, Dorka Juhász, Nika Mühl and the every other international college athlete across the country aren’t allowed to benefit from NIL because they’re on student visas, not work visas. Until that’s fixed, international players will be left out.

“As of right now, we — as international students — can’t do anything until they change the rules. We’re hoping like they’re gonna have some policies or positions about that because it’s 12 percent of student athletes in the whole nation,” Juhász said. “I think it’s a great opportunity for us to use that and just benefit from that.”

Azzi on Geno

Despite being limited with an unspecified injury during workouts, Azzi Fudd felt like her first month at UConn went pretty well. After all, she didn’t get yelled at Geno Auriemma once.

So what did the freshman learned from her coach?

“Being able to move your defender without dribbling,” Fudd mentioned. “I was never really good back-door cutter so I’ve definitely gotten a lot better at that and my back-door passes. But it’s just a bunch of little things.”

Bueckers “a different breed”

One of the most remarkable aspects of Paige Bueckers’ historic freshman season was how nothing seemed to rattle the freshman. Even in her first collegiate game against UMass Lowell on Dec. 12, she played like an experienced veterans.

Azzi Fudd has a theory about how Bueckers managed to pull that off.

“I don’t think she gets nervous. I don’t think that’s a feeling she has,” Fudd said. “I don’t understand her. It’s a different breed.”

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