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Caroline Ducharme ruled out for UConn’s season opener with neck stiffness

The sophomore remains out due to the nagging neck problem.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

UConn women’s basketball will be without Caroline Ducharme in its season opener vs. Northeastern. The sophomore guard won’t play due to neck stiffness according to head coach Geno Auriemma. Luckily, Ducharme is progressing — just quickly not enough to suit up.

“[She’s] better,” Auriemma said on Wednesday. “Not sure about going forward. I mean, tomorrow she’s not playing but it’s better getting better every day. So we’ll keep our fingers crossed that maybe we’ll be set to go by the weekend.”

Ducharme also missed out on the Huskies’ exhibition contest vs. Kutztown with the neck issue. The coach did not say how or when the problem first occurred.

“She’s just trying to get her stiff neck loosened up and we’re having a hard time with that,” Auriemma said postgame on Sunday. “It comes and goes. Some days it’s really good, some days, not so good. So we’re trying to get it consistently good.”

Injuries have hampered Ducharme throughout her time at UConn. As a freshman, she dealt with a hip issue — one she sustained in high school — all season long and also missed time with a head injury late in the year. Once the offseason came around, Ducharme underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in her hip and missed the team’s summer workouts. While she’s recovered from the hip operation, the neck could prove to be a lingering problem.

“It’s going to be something, maybe, she’ll have to deal with all year long,” Auriemma said on Sunday. “I don’t know.”

Without Ducharme, UConn’s backcourt will be thin against Northeastern. Nika Mühl, Azzi Fudd and Lou Lopez Sénéchal got the start in the exhibition but the options behind those three are limited. Aubrey Griffin has been practicing with the guards to fill in when needed while Inês Bettencourt could also be called upon.

Even with five healthy guards, the Huskies should have no problem with Northeastern. The big test will come on Monday when No. 3 Texas comes to Storrs. The Longhorns should boast one of the top defenses in the nation, so UConn will need all its firepower for that contest.

The Huskies open the season against Northeastern on Thursday night at Gampel Pavilion. Puck drop is set for 7:00 p.m. ET on SNY.