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UConn WBB Weekly: Everything that’s gone wrong with the Huskies this season

The Huskies’ bad luck has started to reach biblical proportions.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

Welcome to the UConn WBB Weekly, a recap of everything that happened in the world of UConn women’s basketball over the past week.

The Weekly is a newsletter! Subscribe to get it in your inbox every Thursday at 7 a.m. before it hits the site.

Headlines

From the UConn WBB Weekly Premium:

From The UConn Blog:

News

Tennessee coverage

Villanova coverage

Last week’s Weekly:

Elsewhere:

  • UConn moved up to No. 8 in the latest AP Poll.
  • Azzi Fudd was named Big East Freshman of the Week for the first time after her 25-point performance against Tennessee. Christyn Williams made the weekly honor roll.
  • Williams is also one of 15 players named to the Naismith Trophy Midseason Team — the lone Husky on the list.

Recapping everything that’s gone wrong with the Huskies this season

UConn women’s basketball’s bad luck this season has started to reach biblical proportions.

On Wednesday, Olivia Nelson-Ododa became the Huskies’ 10th player to miss a game this season due to injury/illness when she told the coaching staff just before tip-off against Villanova that she couldn’t play.

“Liv let us know after we put the names in the book (for the starting lineup) that she wasn’t going to be able to go today,” Geno Auriemma said postgame.

“She just said she couldn’t go,” he added later.

With Nelson-Ododa joining Paige Bueckers and Caroline Ducharme among those unavailable, UConn dropped its first conference game in nine years to the Villanova Wildcats by a final score of 72-69 — though the Huskies trailed by double-digits for most of the second half before a furious comeback in the final three minutes.

For UConn, it’s simply the latest misfortune to strike the team. All season long, the Huskies have been snakebitten with injuries, illness or both. Recently, something new has gone wrong in every single game.

At this point, Auriemma has come to accept whatever’s next.

“I’m not surprised by anything that happens — good or bad,” Auriemma said.

To fully comprehend the extent of the Huskies’ tribulations, we compiled a timeline of everything that’s gone wrong during the regular season.

Timeline

Dec. 1: Four games into the season, Auriemma tells reporters freshman Azzi Fudd will be out “for a while” with a foot injury sustained over the summer. She ultimately misses 11 games and returns on Jan. 26.

Dec. 2: One day after Auriemma said Aubrey Griffin would play some minutes in UConn’s next two games, the junior is unexpectedly downgraded to out with a back injury.

Dec. 5: Paige Bueckers goes down with a non-contact left knee injury in the final minute of UConn’s win over Notre Dame. She needs to be carried off the court by teammates.

Dec. 8: Auriemma announces that Nika Mühl will be sidelined due to a lingering foot problem that began with an injury in the opening round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament. She misses three games and returns on Jan. 9. With just three healthy guards left, UConn goes 1-2 before the holidays with losses to Georgia Tech and Louisville.

Dec. 13: Bueckers undergoes successful left knee surgery to repair an anterior tibial plateau fracture and lateral meniscus tear. She has yet to return.

Late December: UConn is hit with COVID-19 following the team’s Christmas break. One player tested positive while still at home, “a couple” tested positive on Dec. 26 and “a couple” more did so a few days later. The Huskies had four games postponed as a result — vs. Marquette and at DePaul, Georgetown and Villanova.

Jan. 9: UConn returns from a 21-day layoff due to both the holidays and COVID with a 63-55 win over Creighton at Gampel Pavilion. Nika Mühl comes back from a foot injury that kept her sidelined for a month. Neither Amari DeBerry (COVID-19) nor Piath Gabriel (unknown) were available to play.

Jan. 10: Aubrey Griffin undergoes back surgery to repair a disc injury, which officially ends her 2021-22 season.

Jan. 17: Roughly an hour before tip-off at Oregon, UConn announces that Christyn Williams entered COVID-19 protocols and will not play against the Ducks. The Huskies are routed, 72-59.

Jan. 23: UConn’s meeting on the road at South Carolina on Jan. 27 is canceled so both teams can make up conference games. The Huskies are scheduled to play at DePaul on Jan. 26 instead.

Jan. 26: One day after Auriemma told reporters she was “not ready to go”, Fudd makes a surprise return at DePaul and scores 15 points in the win. Williams plays in her first game back after entering COVID-19 protocols.

Jan. 30: Dorka Juhász sits out UConn’s win over Providence with a foot injury. She misses one more game and returns on Feb. 6.

Feb. 2: Geno Auriemma falls ill just before tip-off at Creighton and decides not to coach. Associate head coach Chris Dailey takes over and helps lead UConn to a wild victory in which it trails by as many as 12 but rallies in the second half to win by 20.

Feb. 4: UConn’s contest against Butler is canceled after the Bulldogs get stuck in Indianapolis because of winter weather.

Feb. 6: After taking a couple of knocks to the head in recent games, Caroline Ducharme is held out against Tennessee for precautionary reasons. She also misses the defeat to Villanova.

Feb. 9: Nelson-Ododa becomes unavailable just before tip-off. UConn loses to Villanova and snaps a 169-game conference win streak.


Best of social media

Huge numbers for UConn-Tennessee on Sunday:

Paige Bueckers gave all her teammates new sneakers thanks to her NIL deal with StockX:

Fitting game for Evina Westbrook to reach a career milestone:

An update on Paige Bueckers:

Photo of the week

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog