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UConn women’s basketball to have “six and a half” players available for Sunday’s game

Sophomore guard Nika Mühl will return from a foot injury on limited minutes but Piath Gabriel and Amari Deberry will likely be out.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

UConn women’s basketball’s already-depleted rotation will be even more shorthanded for on Sunday against Creighton. According to head coach Geno Auriemma, the Huskies will only have seven players available to play. However, one of those seven is Nika Mühl, who is returning from a foot injury that kept her out the team’s last three games and is restricted to just 15 minutes of action.

“Basically, we’re at six and a half,” Auriemma said. “We’ll do the best we can.”

Piath Gabriel will miss out due to unknown reasons, and Amari DeBerry will dress but likely will not play due to a combination of COVID and “other issues,” according to the coach.

“Amari is not now ready to go,” Auriemma said. “It might take her a little bit of time to get ready.”

Along with those two, Paige Bueckers remains sidelined after knee surgery, Aubrey Griffin is likely done for the season with a disk injury in her back and Azzi Fudd is still dealing with a foot injury. Fudd does appear to be closer to a return, though.

“Azzi hasn’t started running yet,” Auriemma said. “I think maybe next week she’s going to be able to do some running.”

Bueckers is also making some progress in her recovery as well.

“I think her rehab has been going well. She feels good. She looks good,” Auriemma said. “She’s probably the only one happy that those games were all postponed.”

The coach revealed that four of his players dealt with “COVID issues,” as he put it, and from the time the team returned to campus on Dec. 26 until this week, the Huskies only had five or six players at practice. To make matters worse, UConn doesn’t even have its usual complement of practice players since school isn’t in session.

Because of that, managing the rotation will be a challenge on Sunday.

“It’s a really challenging situation,” Auriemma said. “There’s no magical formula that you can use to say, ‘This is how you deal with this.’ It’s just one of those things and you play it by ear. You go into to game, you keep your eyes open and see what’s going on out there and see who looks like what and try to figure out how to keep everybody fresh.”