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UConn WBB Weekly: Azzi Fudd is more than just a shooter

The freshman had one of her best games of the season in the Elite Eight despite only taking a handful of 3-pointers.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

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Azzi Fudd is more than just a shooter

From the moment Azzi Fudd stepped on campus, Geno Auriemma has emphasized that although the most impressive aspect of her game is her 3-point shot, she’s not just a shooter.

“She’s a hell of a basketball player. A lot of people probably don’t know that because they’ve seen her shoot the ball, and that’s become kind the thing,” Auriemma said. “But if they watch her every day, they realize what a hell of a basketball player she is in almost every area.”

But for much of her freshman season, Fudd hadn’t shown that. 58.7 percent of her shots have been from beyond the arc, compared to 36.1 percent for Christyn Williams or 28.1 percent for Paige Bueckers. In 16 of Fudd’s 23 games, over half her shots have been 3-pointers.

That held true in UConn’s Sweet Sixteen win over Indiana, where she had just one attempt inside the arc. But that changed dramatically in the Huskies’ next contest against NC State. Fudd played a key role in helping UConn advance past the Wolfpack and get to the Final Four with 19 points while playing a team-high 49 minutes.

Most notably, only five of her 17 attempts were from three. Fudd showcased her game in full with a few deadly pull-up jumpers from the free throw line, an impressive drive to the rim in which she went under the basket and put it off the glass, and hit a couple huge free throws at the end of the first overtime to extend the lead to three. She also grabbed five rebounds — tied for the second-most in her career — dished two assists and didn’t turn the ball over once.

That’s not to say Fudd’s 3-point shooting isn’t important, though. Through four NCAA Tournament games, she leads the team in minutes played precisely because of her ability to turn a game on its head in the blink of an eye.

“That’s why she plays so many minutes. Because you’re just really confident that in a three minute span, she might make four of those (threes) and the game goes from a three-point game to a 14-point game. Who knows? But you keep waiting for that moment.”

Fudd has quickly become one of the Huskies most important players and someone they rely on heavily despite the fact that she’s only a freshman. She’s one of three players to average double-figures in the NCAA Tournament at 14.3 points per game and is UConn’s go-to free throw shooter at the end of games.

“You want her to touch in the ball when it’s time to make free throws,” Auriemma said. “She doesn’t shoot free throws like a freshman under pressure.”

If UConn is to earn the two wins needed this weekend to become national champions, Fudd will need to play a crucial role. The freshman isn’t just a shooter, but the Huskies will still need her to use that element of her game to finally snap their title drought.

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Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog