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UConn WBB Weekly: Aubrey Griffin looking to become a perimeter threat this season

After missing all of last season with injuries, the redshirt junior has supposedly become a knockdown shooter.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

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Will Aubrey Griffin be a shooting threat for the Huskies?

Through two seasons at UConn, Aubrey Griffin has taken all of 30 shots from beyond the arc, making four — a 13.3 3-point percentage. So when the redshirt junior participated in the 3-point contest at First Night alongside the likes of Azzi Fudd and Caroline Ducharme, it came as a surprise — at least to those outside the program.

Griffin made 50 percent of her attempts, displaying a new aspect of her game that she’s developed in the 500+ days since she last took the court for the Huskies: The ability to knock down shots from deep.

The team already knew this, though. At Big East Media Day, Geno Auriemma casually mentioned Griffin among the team’s shooters. Ducharme affirmed that as well.

“In practice, if you leave her open, she’s gonna make you pay,” Ducharme said.

It’s something that’s over a year in the making. After Griffin’s sophomore season wrapped up, she spent the summer working to become a threat from the outside. With her length and athleticism, she previously scored points by driving to the basket or collecting second-chance opportunities on offensive rebounds. Since Griffin had already found success down low, expanding her game to the outside was a logical next step in her development.

“Last summer before I got hurt, I got up a lot of shots,” she said. “I definitely feel like that’s one thing in my game that has improved a lot.”

From all accounts, the work paid off and putting the ball in the basket isn’t a problem for Griffin. Now, it’s a matter of having the confidence to take a shot in the first place.

“Whenever she wants, she can get to the basket but she’ll catch it and she’ll hesitate for a second sometimes to shoot I’m like, ‘Aubrey, just shoot it!’” Fudd said with playful anger. “But she’s definitely got a lot more comfortable.”

Had Griffin not suffered ankle, leg and back surgeries that kept her out all of last season, we likely would’ve seen her shooting ability much earlier. The first hint we got of the new element in her game came way back at the start of summer workouts in 2021 when Auriemma spoke about pushing Griffin to have confidence in her shot.

“I’m trying a new tactic with her: ‘If you don’t shoot it, you’re coming out.’ As opposed to last year, ‘If you shoot that you’ll never play again’ because she didn’t believe in it,” Auriemma said at the time. “So it was like, ‘Should I? should I not? Okay, I’ll throw it up there.’ So now we’re working on it every day. When you catch it and you don’t shoot the shot, you’re coming out. Not if you miss it. If you don’t shoot it, you’re coming out. And that’s given her a little bit of ‘My job is just to shoot it.’”

Whether or not Griffin has truly gotten comfortable with her shot will bear out in UConn’s first live-game action this season in an exhibition against Kutztown on Sunday at the XL Center. It’s one thing to shoot without hesitation in practice or even a closed-door scrimmage, but it’s different with a few thousand people watching. Only then will her shot — and her confidence in the shot — be truly tested fort he first time.

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