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UConn WBB Weekly: Paige Bueckers planning to be a player-coach this season

The injured star will play an unofficial role on the Huskies’ coaching staff for as long as Geno Auriemma can tolerate it.

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.

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From The UConn Blog:

Last week’s Weekly:

Paige Bueckers taking a coaching role this season

When Paige Bueckers missed 19 games with a tibial plateau fracture and torn meniscus last season, she quickly established herself as the head of UConn’s bench mob. Whenever the Huskies made a big play on the floor, she was getting everyone fired up, which led to more than a few funny moments.

This season, Bueckers will have a different role on the sidelines.

“Yeah, I’m head coach. Coach let me take his spot,” she joked, before getting serious. “I’m players’ coach. I’m gonna be the one that they can talk to, the one that’s gonna push them but also the one that they can rely on when they need support and anything like that. But I’m definitely taking a job as a coach. I’m not sure which spot yet.”

It’s something Bueckers dabbled with during her previous injury. She’d give a pointer here and there or provide a different set of eyes from the coaching staff. Now that she’s out for the entire year, she plans to jump in with two feet.

“The minute she got hurt and after surgery, she said to me, ‘I’m going to be the best coach on the coaching staff,’” Auriemma shared.

Throughout her two years in Storrs, Bueckers has developed a propensity for annoying her head coach. She finds ways to get under his skin, whether it be bugging him to put her back in the game after she’s subbed out, teasing him in an interview, or giving him a friendly tap after a made three.

But for now, Auriemma is focusing on the positives. He’s looking forward to giving her the opportunity to see the game through a different lens, even if it’s not under the ideal circumstances.

“A lot of times you can see things from the sidelines, see things when you’re watching film, when you’re not watching it as a player and you’re watching it more as a coach,” Auriemma said. “I’m anxious to have her learn more about the game by doing those things, by sitting at practice and watching it from a coach’s eyes.”

Bueckers’ teammates are excited about her new role as well. Auriemma is notorious for pushing his players both physically and mentally, and while it’s proven effective, it’s still nice to have a positive voice on the staff during a rough stretch.

“She’s gonna be the good cop,” Nika Mühl said.

“It’s different hearing things from coaches and hearing things from one of the players, so I think that will definitely be a big help,” Azzi Fudd added.

We’ll see how long this arrangement lasts.

“She’ll be the same Paige she’s always been, though,” Auriemma said. “She’ll get carried away and then she’ll want to do this and she’ll want to do that and she’ll want to have input in this.”

Luckily, he’s prepared for the inevitable.

“I have the ultimate punishment ready for her when she starts to be a pain in the ass,” Auriemma said. “I’m gonna have her sit next to CD the whole game. That would be the ultimate punishment. She won’t say a word for the next three months.”

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