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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From the UConn WBB Weekly Premium:
- What Ice Brady’s season-ending injury means for UConn’s frontcourt
- UConn offers, hosts 2025 guard Kelis Fisher
From The UConn Blog:
- UConn freshman Ice Brady out for the season after dislocating right knee
- Chasing Perfection: The offseason is nearly over (Ep. 78)
Last week’s Weekly:
- Arizona coach Adia Barnes said her program will play a home-and-home against UConn, though she didn’t specify when.
- 2023 women’s college basketball recruiting class rankings: Top 15 before national signing day (ESPN) — UConn comes in at No. 2, includes scouting reports on the team’s three 2023 commits.
After a disappointing sophomore season, Aaliyah Edwards is putting all her focus on UConn
Last season was supposed to be a breakout campaign for Aaliyah Edwards. After a strong freshman year, she spent most of the summer with the Canadian national team and even took a trip to Tokyo for the Summer Olympic Games. With one year of college combined with international experience, Edwards seemed like a lock to be a key contributor, maybe even a star, as a sophomore. Or at least a role player who provided a jolt of energy, physicality, and rebounding off the bench.
Instead, Edwards regressed in every meaningful way. Her field goal percentage — which led the nation at 68.9 percent as a freshman — dropped to 52.1 percent. She scored fewer points (10.7 to 7.9), grabbed fewer rebounds (5.7 to 5.1), and committed more fouls (2.1 to 2.4) while all too often being a non-factor on the floor. Edwards finished the year with a strong NCAA Tournament but even then, she essentially ended her sophomore season at the same place she ended her freshman campaign.
Looking back, maybe Edwards’ drop-off shouldn’t have come as a surprise.
“I think sometimes people put a lot of emphasis or a lot of stock in, ‘Hey, I spent a month with the national team at the Olympics.’ Okay, you spent a month not playing,” Geno Auriemma explained. “So what did that month do for you? I coached our (national) team for what, 10 years? It was really, really hard for a college kid to have a huge impact and you don’t get to practice much because once you get down there, it’s games and games and games and games. So when you’re a young player, you need those reps and you need that time on the floor. It’s a great experience — don’t get me wrong, it’s something I would encourage every kid to try to do — but from [perspective of] ‘Did I get a lot better?’ It doesn’t always translate to that.”
As a result, Edwards turned down an opportunity to compete for a spot on Canada’s World Cup roster this summer. The national team wanted her to make a six-week commitment from the end of August until October — which would’ve forced her to miss the first month of school and team workouts. As difficult as the decision was — she called it “heartbreaking” — Edwards chose to stay with the Huskies.
“I couldn’t commit to that just because I want to give my all with UConn,” she said. “We just started the preseason so I want to devote most of my time to UConn.”
Edwards explained that the national team can have her as much as it wants during the summer but once the semester begins, she’s all about the college season. She still played in one tournament with Canada this offseason as part of the U23 squad for GLOBL JAM, a four-team event held in Toronto that featured the US, France, Belgium, and Canada.
Edwards helped her squad win gold behind an MVP performance, averaging 15.4 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 2.6 assists over the course of the tournament. It proved to be a pivotal point in her offseason. Edwards knows the key to a successful year at UConn will be consistency and while that’s often a buzzword for players, she took steps over the summer to become a less volatile player. GLOBL JAM was the first chance she had to implement those changes in games.
“I think it’s more maturing, a different mindset, also repetition,” Edwards said. “That’s really what consistency is: Doing the same thing every game and doing it well. So I think that in preseason, I’ve really owned up to that, and [I’m] being accountable with myself, just trying to go into every workout with the same intensity and same drive so that when games come I can kind of translate everything that I’ve done in practice — the little things — into games.”
So what’s that mean in practice? Setting goals and sticking to them.
“One of my goals with the U23 team was consistency, so I tried to do the double-double every game,” Edwards said.
In the five games at GLOBL JAM, Edwards turned in three double-doubles. It’s a goal she intends to carry into the UConn season, though it’s more of a guide than anything. Edwards can play well and still come up short of a double-double.
“It’s not like I need to score or be top scorer or anything like that,” she said. “It’s just that for me to know that I’ve done well, that’s some of the things I’m going to be looking at. Me and Coach [are] having those type of conversations to set goals for myself every game so that in the long run, I’ll know that I’ve had a great season.”
Ability has never been a question for Edwards. Impact hasn’t, either. At her best, there are few teams in the country who can slow her down or stop her. As is often the case with young players, Edwards just doesn’t play up to her potential on a consistent enough basis. But with Olivia Nelson-Ododa off to the WNBA, UConn’s frontcourt has a major void to fill. The Huskies are counting on Edwards to be a major part of the solution down low.
“She has a physical game and she has to play to that physicality every day,” Auriemma said. “If she does, then that’s the next step for her. There were flashes of it last year for long stretches, but not enough of it and not for the whole season. So I know that’s a big point of emphasis for her.”
Best of social media
UConn is well-represented:
UConn women's basketball players on preseason watchlists:— Daniel Connolly (@DanielVConnolly) October 21, 2022
Azzi Fudd – Ann Meyers Drysdale Award (Best SG)
Caroline Ducharme – Cheryl Miller Award (Best SF)
Aaliyah Edwards – Katrina McClain Award (Best PF)
Dorka Juhász – Lisa Leslie Award (Best C)
Your favorite player’s worst nightmare pic.twitter.com/cKB0GYueht— UConn Women’s Basketball (@UConnWBB) October 24, 2022
Another honor for UConn legend Jen Rizzotti:
A Connecticut legend— UConn Women’s Basketball (@UConnWBB) October 22, 2022
Congrats to Jen Rizzotti on her induction into the the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame! pic.twitter.com/dnw3uO00Qp
Some of these responses...whew: