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Dorka Juhász and Lou Lopez Sénéchal leave UConn as two of the best transfers in program history

The two weren’t with the Huskies long, but they made a lasting impact.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

Dorka Juhász and Lou Lopez Sénéchal spent a combined three years with UConn women’s basketball — less than the full career for a single player. Yet the two will depart Storrs having made a bigger impact than many who were around for four full seasons.

“Some people could spend four years in a school and on senior night, the fans are like ‘eh’. I’ve felt it. I know it. I’ve been here long enough to have a million different senior nights,” Geno Auriemma said ahead of senior night. “Some seniors come through here and the fans are never affected by them. They just kind of are here and they play.”

“There’s others that after one year...the fans are already in love with those with those kids,” he added later. “Dorka and Lou are in that category.”

The two weren’t just beloved by the fanbase, though. They also established themselves as two of the best transfers ever to come through the program — and it’s not particularly close.

Lopez Sénéchal averaged 15.5 points per game (second-best behind Aaliyah Edwards) while shooting 47.6 percent overall (tops among guards), 44.0 percent from three (a team-high) and 85.4 percent from the line (second behind Azzi Fudd). She reached double-figures in 33 of 37 games (most on the team) and did her best to drag UConn to the Elite Eight with 25 points on 9-13 shooting in the loss to Ohio State — which she did while playing on an injured knee.

In one year, Lopez Sénéchal racked up 575 total points, the best single-season mark of any transfer. The only transfers to score more points overall than her are Rita Williams with 699 (in three seasons), Juhász with 645 (in two seasons), and Evina Westbrook with 606 points (in two seasons).

What makes Lopez Sénéchal’s success even more incredible is that she was far from a sure thing after transferring in from Fairfield. Despite dominating the MAAC for four seasons, there were legitimate questions about whether or not she could play at this level. The Huskies had gone the low-major route before with Evelyn Adebayo, but she couldn’t adapt to the higher level of play and never made an impact.

Instead, it took less than a month for Lopez Sénéchal to prove herself to the coaching staff.

“Two weeks after she got here, I thought, ‘Whoever thought they were starting before Lou got here better get used to not (starting)’ because right away, you could tell there’s just something special about her,” Geno Auriemma said after the win over January in which Lopez Sénéchal scored a season-high 26 points.

She eventually started all 37 games for UConn and was one of two players to appear in every contest this season. The Huskies couldn’t possibly have asked for more than what they ultimately got from the Fairfield transfer.

“Lou, it seems like every big game we played this year, she’s played fantastic,” Auriemma said on Saturday night.

As for Juhász, she spent two years in Storrs after coming in from Ohio State. After an injury-riddled campaign capped with a fractured wrist in the Elite Eight during her first season, she then broke her thumb in the second game of UConn’s 2022-23 campaign. Once Juhász returned, she finally had a chance to showcase her abilities.

She finished with 14.2 points and 9.9 rebounds per game, coming three boards short of averaging a double-double. The latter earned her a spot in the record books as the eighth-best single-season rebounding average in program history. Only six Huskies ever averaged more: Rosemary Borsuk (12.8), Peggy Walsh (12.5), Jody Eckert (11.7), Rebecca Lobo (11.2 twice), Renee Najarian (10.9) and Napheesa Collier (10.8). Juhász also had 15 double-doubles, which lands her in the top eight for most in a single season at UConn.

Among transfers, her totals of 645 points and 469 rebounds are both second-most of any transfer behind only Williams and Najarian, respectively. This past year, Juhász had 287 rebounds, as many as Natalie Butler totaled through two seasons with the Huskies.

She also did all that while missing a significant amount of time due to injury while also often being UConn’s secondary or even tertiary option in the frontcourt. In Juhász’s first year, she played behind Olivia Nelson-Ododa and Edwards. This past year, Edwards still had the edge after being named an AP and USBWA Third Team All-American.

Yet for as good as both Lopez Sénéchal and Juhász were on the court, they’ll leave a bigger impact on the program because of who they were as people. They didn’t take long to integrate into the team and were immediately beloved by their teammates.

“As soon as she stepped foot on campus last summer, her personality was so big on and off the court,” Azzi Fudd said about Lopez Sénéchal “Having this be her last game, it just hurts so bad that I don’t get to play with her again.”

“Every time everybody talks about her, they say that they feel like they’ve been playing their whole life with her,” Nika Mühl said about Juhász. “Her impact on and off the court, how much we’ve learned from her and with her, there’s all the experiences that we had off the court together I’ll never forget. I’m just sad it ended like this for her.”

UConn has always been a program wary of transfers, having only brought fewer than 15 in Auriemma’s entire tenure prior to the arrival of Juhász and Lopez Sénéchal. The Huskies will still build their roster the “traditional” way — i.e with freshmen that develop over four years — but when they do dip into the transfer market again, the bar will be high for those players because they’ll have to live up to the standard that Lopez Sénéchal and Juhász set.