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UConn WBB Weekly: What to watch for as the Huskies’ offseason begins

With the 2022-23 season now over, the work starts for next year.

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Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

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What to watch for as UConn’s offseason begins

UConn is officially into the offseason after falling the Sweet Sixteen to Ohio State this past weekend. Even though the Huskies suffered their earliest defeat since 2005, they’re only done about a week earlier than usual.

These next two months before the start of summer workouts will be busy. Here’s what to keep an eye out for:

The transfer portal

Lou Lopez Sénéchal and Dorka Juhász are both gone after the pair exhausted their collegiate eligibility, but there’s always the possibility that more players could leave via the transfer portal. Since 2017, all UConn’s outgoing transfers have departed at some point in April, so if anyone from the current roster chooses to go elsewhere, it’ll likely happen in the next month.

As a rule, we don’t speculate on whether any specific players will transfer. However, the Huskies don’t have much room to add someone out of the portal. Currently, UConn has just one scholarship available and will add KK Arnold, Ashlynn Shade and Qadence Samuels as freshmen while Jana El Alfy and Ice Brady will finally get a chance to play as well.

That leaves the Huskies with six guards, five posts and three wings/positionless players — most of whom are in line for big minutes. Unless there’s a can’t-miss player on the market or the coaching staff feels there’s a major hole that needs to be addressed, UConn doesn’t appear to be a likely landing spot for any transfers.

Injury recoveries

Both Paige Bueckers and Brady are nearing the end of their respective recoveries from season-ending knee injuries. Brady has participated in practice during the window open to media over the last month or so — which included both individual work, team-wide drills and full-court sprints — and warmed up with the team during the NCAA Tournament.

Meanwhile, Bueckers has also been a partial participant in practice. She’s nearly eight months removed from surgery to repair her torn ACL, so she should be fully healed at some point during the summer (barring any setbacks).

The next time Geno Auriemma meets with the media (typically late May or June), there should be definitive updates on both players.

Offseason fix-ups

With no games for the next seven months, now is the time for players to get lingering injuries fixed. Last summer, Caroline Ducharme went under the knife to repair a torn hip labrum while the year before, Bueckers had ankle surgery and Christyn Williams underwent an operation on her elbow.

With the exception of Williams, these type of procedures happen between now and the start of summer workouts in late May. Some are relatively minor while others require an extensive recovery that takes up the entire offseason.

It’s possible nobody needs surgery, though that seems unlikely considering Azzi Fudd told The Athletic in October that her lingering foot problem “will be fixed after the season.’’

If anything does happen, it’ll be revealed in the next couple of months.

Schedule news

UConn’s non-conference schedule is nearly complete, though there are still a few holes remaining. The Huskies will either continue or complete series with Maryland and Notre Dame at home as well as Minnesota (for Paige Bueckers’ homecoming), NC State, South Carolina and Texas on the road. The Manchester JI’s Carl Adamec reported that UConn will begin a four-year series with Louisville in Connecticut next season as well.

That leaves the Huskies with a few openings left to fill. There’s two potential “homecoming” matchups that could happen — another game in Toronto for Aaliyah Edwards, similar to what the team did for Kia Nurse in 2017 or an intra-family matchup for Nika Mühl against Ball State, where her younger sister Hana plays.

The Huskies’ series with Tennessee also concluded with the most recent contest in Knoxville, though Auriemma said afterwards that it’s “still as good as any other non-conference game”. UConn could end up playing in an early-season tournament as well, such as the Phil Knight Legacy this past season or the Battle for Atlantis in 2021.

UConn does have more flexibility with its non-conference slate, though. In 2023-24, the Big East will change to an 18-game schedule instead of the 20-game double round robin format, which means the Huskies can play two additional non-conference matchups.

While the season doesn’t begin until November, news of any potential series, one-off games or tournaments should start to come out sooner than later.

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