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:
- Aubrey Griffin starting to meet her potential
- How Aaliyah Edwards has been a stabilizing force in UConn’s frontcourt
From The UConn Blog:
- UConn women’s basketball handles Duke, 78-50
- UConn women’s basketball beats No. 9 Iowa to win Phil Knight Legacy
Last week’s Weekly:
- Dorka Juhász will remain out through this weekend with a broken thumb (Hearst CT’s Maggie Vanoni)
- UConn stayed at No. 3 in the AP Poll
- Aaliyah Edwards earned Big East Player of the Week honors after averaging 18.5 points, 12.0 rebounds, and 4.5 assists while picking up MVP honors at the Phil Knight Legacy.
What we’ve learned about UConn after one month
The calendar has flipped from November to December and UConn is off to a wildly successful start. The Huskies are 5-0 with three top-10 wins and a Phil Knight Legacy Championship — despite losing a trio of seniors and Paige Bueckers from last year’s team.
While UConn came in facing plenty of uncertainty, it answered a lot of questions in the first month of the season.
UConn is elite — but not unbeatable
Through five games, UConn has three top-10 victories over Texas, NC State, and Iowa. The Huskies only beat three top-10 opponents all of last year and haven’t picked up that many high-caliber wins in their first five games over the last 20 seasons. They have star power in both the backcourt (Azzi Fudd) and frontcourt (Aaliyah Edwards) and the rest of the roster knows their roles.
UConn has an efficient offense — its 52.5 FG% ranks first nationally, its 1.21 points per scoring attempt is third, and Her Hoop Stats ranks the Huskies as the top offense in the country — to go with a stout defense that is third-best according to Her Hoop Stats Defensive Ratings.
Still, UConn showed it’s not infallible in the win over Iowa but the days of the Breanna Stewart Era are gone — no team is truly unbeatable. Considering everything they’ve dealt with, the Huskies have passed every test with flying colors.
Azzi Fudd is a bona fide superstar
Fudd has helped replaced Bueckers as UConn’s go-to player. She’s averaging the fifth-most points in the nation at 25.6 PPG and has reached double figures in every game, the 20-point mark in four of five contests and the 30-point mark twice. Fudd isn’t just doing it with 3-pointers, either. She’s showing off the all-around offensive game that Auriemma has raved about since her freshman year by getting to the rim, pulling up at the free throw line and, of course, knocking down shots from deep.
Fudd scores 1.17 points per play (97th percentile nationally) while owning an effective field goal percentage (which accounts for the added value of a 3-pointer) of 62.2 percent, good for the 94th percentile. She’s also shown a knack for hitting clutch shots to stop an opponent’s run, snap a scoring drought, or spark a comeback. When UConn needs a basket, it turns to Fudd and so far she’s delivered at every opportunity.
Aaliyah Edwards’ struggles are in the past
After a disappointing sophomore season, Edwards has become a monster for the Huskies down low. She’s averaging a double-double with 16.4 points and 11.2 rebounds and set a career-high with six assists against Iowa. In just five games this year, Edwards has four double-doubles — one more than she had in her first two seasons combined — and two 20-point performances — equaling her previous total.
She had a rough first half against Texas but turned it around in the second half and has been nearly unstoppable since then. Not only is Edwards putting up big numbers, she’s scoring in a variety of ways — on post-up moves, off fadeaways, with jumpers, and in transition.
Edwards won MVP honors at the Phil Knight Legacy and considering the fact that Dorka Juhász has been out with a broken left thumb, she’s been one of UConn’s most valuable players through the first five games, too.
The complementary players are thriving
Beyond Fudd and Edwards, UConn has gotten significant contributions from Lou Lopez Sénéchal, Nika Mühl, Aubrey Griffin, and Caroline Ducharme.
Lopez Sénéchal and Griffin have both provided a scoring punch at 16.6 and 12.2 points per game, respectively, while Mühl is pulling the strings on offense with a nation-leading 10.8 assists per game. Griffin has been active on the boards with 5.4 rebounds (2.4 of which have been offensive) and has nabbed 2.4 steals per game as well. As for Ducharme, she needed time to work her way back from neck stiffness that kept her out of the opener but had her best game of the season against Iowa with 15 points, five rebounds, three assists, three steals and two blocks.
While not every player has put up big numbers every game, they’ve all carried the load at different times to supplement the two stars.
UConn has already been through a lot this season. In terms of injuries, it lost Paige Bueckers and Ice Brady in the preseason, then Dorka Juhász went down with a broken thumb after just two games. The Huskies haven’t blinked and the remaining players have simply stepped up when called upon.
In-game, not much rattles this team. Edwards rebounded from a brutal first half against Texas to finish in double-figures. Fudd has been quiet in the first half against Texas and Iowa only to breakout for a big second half. Lopez Sénéchal failed to score in the first 20 minutes against NC State and responded with 20 points over the final two quarters.
As a group, there was no panic when it trailed Iowa by 11 points in the second half and couldn’t solve the Hawkeyes’ zone defense. UConn just kept working and eventually figured it out.
Outside of basketball, the Huskies also dealt with associate head coach Chris Dailey collapsing during the national anthem vs. NC State and still regrouped to win the game in dominant fashion.
Even though it’s still early, UConn has shown remarkable mental toughness.
Best of social media
Another trophy to add to the collection:
2022 PHIL KNIGHT LEGACY CHAMPS pic.twitter.com/migF7KXSde— UConn Huskies (@UConnHuskies) November 27, 2022
Quite a way for Paige Bueckers and Azzi Fudd to announce a new NIL deal:
More on than @azzi_35‼️ Nerf tested our skills with the Elite Motoblitz 2.0 - loser gets soaked with a Super Soaker watch til the end https://t.co/gx5DsW0znT #nerfpartner #nerf #itsnerfornothin #ad @hasbro @MurphFromNerf pic.twitter.com/TOwCBJPBzz— Paige Bueckers (@paigebueckers1) November 29, 2022
Elite company for Aaliyah Edwards:
Aaliyah Edwards is the 3rd UConn player since at least 1999-00 to record at least 20 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists in a game against an AP Top-10 team.— Alexa Philippou (@alexaphilippou) November 27, 2022
Breanna Stewart did it against Texas and Louisville, Maya Moore against DePaul
h/t @ESPNStatsInfo https://t.co/0UImoJz0vZ
The players are big fans of UConn men’s basketball freshman Alex Karaban:
UConn women shouting "Karaban Caravan!" from the stands and I fully endorse this behavior. #KarabanCaravan— Matt Norlander (@MattNorlander) November 28, 2022
From one No. 10 to another:
Evina Westbrook met up with her old team in Portland: