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Which injuries have impacted UConn the most?

Where does Jana El Alfy’s Achilles injury rank among all the Huskies injuries over the last three seasons?

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

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Last week’s Weekly:

Which injuries have impacted UConn the most over the last three seasons?

UConn has been plagued by injuries over the last two seasons — and now its continued into the upcoming campaign. This past week, the school announced that redshirt freshman Jana El Alfy will miss the entire year after rupturing her Achilles at the U19 World Cup.

Not all injuries are the same, though. Some have only kept players out a game or two while others completely derailed a season for the Huskies. So which have been the most (and least) impactful in that timeframe?

19. Caroline Ducharme sits with neck stiffness (one game, 2022-23)

Ducharme missed the most recent season opener with neck stiffness, but UConn still comfortably beat Northeastern, 98-39. If there were any game to miss over the last few years, it was this one.

18. Dorka Juhász’s foot keeps her out (two games, 2021-22)

Juhász struggled with a handful of nagging injuries during her first season at UConn but they only kept her out two games: An ugly 69-61 win at Providence followed by an easier 76-56 victory at Creighton. Considering the short length of time she missed and the fact the Huskies won both games, this injury wasn’t all that consequential.

17. Aubrey Griffin gets COVID over Christmas (two games, 2022-23)

When Griffin went home for the holiday break, she tested positive for COVID-19. She had to miss a pair of games which UConn still won by a combined 38 points.

16. Ayanna Patterson enters concussion protocol (four games, 2022-23)

Patterson suffered a concussion in a win over Xavier in early January and missed the next four games. While the freshman still had a regular spot in the rotation at that point, the Huskies didn’t face any teams with size and won every game by a wide margin.

15. Nika Mühl’s foot (three games, 2021-22)

Early in the 2021-22 campaign, Mühl continued to deal with the effects of a foot injury she suffered in the first game of the 2021 NCAA Tournament. UConn shut her down for five weeks but due to a combination of the holidays and an outbreak of COVID in the team, she only missed three games. The Huskies could’ve used her in a loss to Louisville in which they only had three healthy guards, but they still got off relatively unscathed.

14. Caroline Ducharme suffers another head injury (13 games, 2022-23)

As a sophomore, Ducharme’s head was a magnet for contact and around New Year’s, she reportedly ran into a screen during practice and entered concussion protocol as a result. She missed the next 13 games and continued to deal with symptoms throughout the rest of the season.

13. Christyn Williams comes down with COVID (three games, 2021-22)

Just before tip-off at Oregon in January 2022, UConn announced that Williams tested positive for COVID-19 and would miss the contest. The Huskies were throttled 72-59 in a game Auriemma later called the low point of the season.

12. Nika Mühl goes down with a concussion (one game, 2022-23)

Mühl suffered a concussion in the second half of a win over Princeton and had to sit out the next game at Maryland. The Huskies had to start Inês Bettencourt at point guard and as a team, they turned the ball over 22 times without their main floor general.

11. Olivia Nelson-Ododa injures groin (three games, 2021-22)

When starting lineups were announced prior to UConn’s matchup with Villanova in February 2022, Westbrook came out instead of Nelson-Ododa despite the latter being listed among the team’s starters. Afterwards, Auriemma revealed that Nelson-Ododa had a groin injury which eventually forced her to sit for three games and bothered her the rest of the season. Without the center, the Huskies lost to Villanova — their first conference defeat since 2013.

t-9. Ice Brady suffers dislocated patella (entire 2022-23 season)

t-9. Jana El Alfy ruptures Achilles (entire 2023-24 season)

While these are two separate injuries in two separate seasons, they both happened to freshman who had never played in a game at UConn. Even though Brady drew rave reviews from coaches and teammates prior to going down and El Alfy looked dominant at the U19 World Cup before getting hurt, it’s impossible to know just how much their absences affected (or will affect) the Huskies.

8. Azzi Fudd gets shut down due to lingering foot issue (10 games, 2021-22)

After a slow start to her freshman year, UConn shut Fudd down due to a foot issue that bothered her throughout the summer and preseason. She finally returned with a crucial 15-point effort at DePaul at the end of January and later carried the Huskies to a win over Tennessee with a 25-point outburst. Once Fudd got healthy, she quickly became an impact player — one that UConn missed in her absence.

7. Dorka Juhász breaks her thumb (seven games, 2022-23)

In UConn’s second game of the season, Juhász broke her thumb and missed the next seven games. While Aaliyah Edwards held down the frontcourt in her absence, Juhász returned with two double-doubles while averaging 4.0 assists in her first three games back. The fifth-year forward ultimately proved to be an indispensable piece for the Huskies after an inconsistent first year in Storrs.

6. Caroline Ducharme deals with head injury (four games, 2021-22)

For a stretch during her freshman year, Ducharme led UConn in scoring and kept the team afloat without Paige Bueckers. Then, she suffered a head injury after taking a series of hits across multiple games and missed a total of four games. When Ducharme returned, she wasn’t the same and only reached double-figures three times over the final 14 games after hitting that mark 11 times in the previous 13 contests.

5. Aubrey Griffin undergoes back surgery (entire 2021-22 season)

Griffin dealt with a host of injuries during the 2021-22 preseason, ranging from the ankle to the leg and eventually the back. Despite the staff’s best efforts to get her on the court — she even warmed up for a few contests — Griffin continued to struggle with the back and she eventually underwent an operation to fix a disc issue in January. Considering how well she played this past season (11.3 points, 6.6 rebounds), not to mention her knack for stepping up when needed, UConn missed her plenty throughout the campaign.

4. Dorka Juhász fractures wrist in Elite Eight (two games, 2021-22)

It’s hard not to wonder what might’ve been had Juhász been on the court for the championship game since UConn was out-rebounded 49-24 and gave up 21 offensive boards. Juhász probably wouldn’t have single-handedly changed the outcome — in addition to Juhász’s absence, Bueckers wasn’t 100 percent, Fudd was sick and Nelson-Ododa’s groin issue flared up — but the contest would’ve looked a lot different if the Huskies could’ve rebounded a little better.

3. Azzi Fudd injures knee twice (22 games, 2022-23)

Through six games of the 2022-23 season, Fudd looked like a national player of the year candidate. She averaged 24.0 points per game, shot 43.5 percent from three and surpassed the 30-point mark twice. Then, Fudd hurt her knee at Notre Dame and she sat out the next eight games. She returned for six quarters, only to hurt the knee again and miss another 14 games.

While Fudd made it back for the postseason, she never got her early-season form back. She averaged just 11.0 points per game but more noticeably, she shot just 23.4 percent from three. Without Fudd at full strength, UConn didn’t have the firepower to overcome Bueckers’ torn ACL.

2. Paige Bueckers suffers tibial plateau fracture, torn meniscus (17 games, 2021-22)

If Bueckers sat out 17 games after injuring her knee in the final seconds of a win over Notre Dame in December then returned without skipping a beat, this injury wouldn’t have been all that impactful. UConn relied too heavily on Bueckers early in the season, so there was value in learning to play without her.

However, the superstar was never quite herself after returning. While she took over in the second half of the Elite Eight win over NC State to help the Huskies reach the Final Four, she needed to be at full strength in order to give her side any shot in the championship game vs. South Carolina.

1. Paige Bueckers tears her ACL (entire 2022-23 season)

UConn’s championship hopes for the 2022-23 realistically died on Aug. 1 when Bueckers went down with a torn ACL during a pick-up game. While the Huskies managed without her — especially early in the year when they made easy work of their tough non-conference schedule — the fact that they suffered their earliest NCAA Tournament exit since 2005 shows just how much they needed her star power.

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