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The ultimate UConn women’s basketball 2023-24 megapreview

Everything you need to know about this year’s edition of the Huskies ahead of the new season.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

The offseason is officially over. On Wednesday, UConn women’s basketball will kick off its 2023-24 season at the XL Center against the Dayton Flyers.

It’s been eight months since the Huskies last played a game — and much has changed. Paige Bueckers is back, a new crop of freshmen are in and the returners are all looking to improve.

In that time, we’ve put out plenty of content about the team and now that a new season is upon us, we put all of it in one place: The ultimate 2023-24 UConn women’s basketball megapreview.

Before we dive into it, here’s where to find our coverage this season:

The UConn Blog — News and game recaps.

The UConn WBB Weekly (free) — The Weekly, which goes out every Thursday morning, is a recap of everything that happened (you guessed it) the previous week with the Huskies. Complete with links, social media posts and a unique story, it’s a must-read for fans of the 11-time national champions. The free coverage on the newsletter will also include reported stories and other content about the team.

The UConn WBB Weekly (premium) — For $6/month or $70/year, you can get the best coverage of the Huskies on the internet. Premium subscribers receive in-depth previews of each game, insights and analysis, film room breakdowns and other exclusive stories that you won’t find anywhere else. All for the price of a couple cups of coffee per month.

If you haven’t joined already, take advantage of this exclusive offer: 20% off an annual subscription if you sign up by the end of this week with this link: Season Opening Sale.

Our staff includes:

Daniel Connolly — I’m entering my ninth season covering UConn women’s basketball and fourth since launching the Weekly back in 2020.

Megan Gauer — Our numbers and national expert, Megan is a key part of our writing team and also co-hosts the Chasing Perfection podcast (more on that later).

Ian Bethune — Ian is our photo and video specialist. He can be spotted on the baseline taking photos during games and also provides pre- and post-game video on our YouTube page.

Roster moves

Out: Lou Lopez Sénéchal, Dorka Juhász (WNBA)

In: KK Arnold, Qadence Samuels, Ashlynn Shade (all freshmen)

Back from injury: Paige Bueckers, Ice Brady

Out with injury: Jana El Alfy (Achilles)

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

The news

Schedule breakdowns

Important dates

Nov. 8: Season opener vs. Dayton (XL Center)

Nov. 16: First game at Gampel Pavilion (vs. Maryland)

Dec. 18: Big East opener vs. Butler (XL Center)

Dec. 20: Final game before the holidays (Toronto Metropolitan)

Dec. 31: First game back from the break (Marquette, XL Center)

Feb. 28: Senior night (Villanova, Gampel Pavilion)

Mar. 2: Regular season finale at Providence

Mar. 9-11: Big East Tournament at Mohegan Sun

Mar. 17: Selection Sunday

Notable games

The homecomings: Nov. 19 at Minnesota (Paige Bueckers), Dec. 6 vs. Ball State (Nika Mühl), Dec. 20 in Toronto (Aaliyah Edwards)

The big non-conference games: Nov. 16 vs. Maryland, Nov. 24-25 vs. UCLA and Kansas at the Cayman Islands Classic, Dec. 3 at Texas, Jan. 27 vs. Notre Dame, Feb. 11 at South Carolina

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

Chasing Perfection

Our UConn women’s basketball podcast, Chasing Perfection, is entering its fourth season. Hosted by me, Daniel Connolly, and Megan Gauer, the weekly show covers everything happening in the world of the Huskies — from game reactions, previews and all the fun stuff in between.

Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or Substack!

What we’ve seen (so far)

From Europe:

Quote of note: “I liked what I saw when we were at our best. That looked really, really good. And when we were at our worst, that’s why God invented red wine.” — Geno Auriemma on his team’s performances in Europe

The exhibitions:

Team talking points

First up? The vibes:

UConn’s new mantra? “Shut the f–k up and win games.”

Whereas legendary NBA coach Phil Jackson used to love coming up with a theme for every season — he famously called his last year with the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls “The Last Dance” — Auriemma wants nothing of the sort.

“This isn’t a 1970s rock band out for their 60th tour and they have to give every tour a name,” he said. “Everybody’s got “Redeem Team” and everybody’s got “Reload Team” and everybody’s got “Unfinished Business Team” and everybody’s got all this stuff going out there.”

After much consideration, he came up with something suitable for his tastes.

“How about we just shut the f—k up and win games?” he said. “How about we just do that? Maybe that’s what the tour should be: ‘Shut the f—k up and win games.’”

Now, into the nitty-gritty of play style and players:

Lastly, predictions:

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

Roster review

The Paige Bueckers section

No storyline is bigger this season than the return of Paige Bueckers after she missed all of last season with a torn ACL.

How injuries forced Paige Bueckers to become a better version of herself: ‘There’s just a maturity about her’

The circumstances of the two injuries — a tibial plateau fracture and lateral meniscus tear in 2021 followed by a torn ACL in 2022 — forced Bueckers to mature faster than she would’ve otherwise. Before going down, she admitted that she thought she was invincible because she’d never dealt with any major injuries.

Bueckers hit with a dose of reality — twice. But instead of getting down on herself, she put her head down and went to work. She didn’t let the time away from the court go to waste and has come back with a professional approach to the game.

“This is the most time she has spent working on her body, her mind, just taking care of herself. And usually a lot of this stuff for these kids doesn’t happen until they get to the pros,” Auriemma said. “There’s just a maturity about her… She’s still a kid trying to figure it out, but she’s got it figured out as best as you can be figured out by a kid her age having gone through what she’s gone through.”

The freshmen

UConn has three newcomers on the roster: KK Arnold, Ashlynn Shade and Qadence Samuels. All three are guards (though they will play in different spots) and all are expected to see the court from day one.

Geno breaks breaks down UConn’s three freshmen

While the Huskies’ current crop of freshmen haven’t even played in a real game yet, Auriemma already believes they’ve hit a home run with the trio of KK Arnold, Qadence Samuels, and Ashlynn Shade.

“I think they’re gonna be terrific,” he said. “These guys love, love to be coached.”

Ice Brady’s back

After a promising offseason, Ice Brady hurt her knee in October last year and missed her entire freshman season. Now, she’s back on the court — with high expectations placed on her.

The rest of the roster