Paige Bueckers won’t play in any of UConn’s four exhibition games in Europe this month, the team announced on Wednesday. Her status for the contests has been up in the air even after being fully cleared from her ACL injury last week.
“Today will be Paige’s first day of going up and down full court with contact and everything that goes with playing. Tomorrow will be her second and Sunday will be your third,” head coach Geno Auriemma said on Friday. “I think she’s going to determine after these three days: ‘Just where am I? And what’s my comfort level?’”
It’s no surprise that Bueckers won’t play overseas. When asked about it back in June, she hinted that she’d rather be overly cautious while returning from the knee injury that knocked her out for the entire 2022-23 season.
“I mean, I probably could (play) but we’re still trying to balance [if it’s] worth it,” Bueckers said at the time. “Technically, the real games don’t start until November so it’s just trying to make sense of it all, get out the pros and the cons, and we’ll see.”
The Huskies will now be down four players for the exhibitions: Bueckers, junior Amari DeBerry, sophomore Ayanna Patterson and redshirt freshman Jana El Alfy. DeBerry underwent back surgery in May, Patterson had an offseason procedure on her knee while El Alfy ruptured her Achilles while playing with Egypt in the U20 World Cup.
UConn will play its first game of the tour on Wednesday, Aug. 16 against the Croatian All-Stars in Zagreb, Croatia. After that, the team will head to Slovenia for a matchup with Akson Ilairija on Friday, Aug. 18 followed by two games in Italy: Monday, Aug. 21 vs. Italian All-Stars and Wednesday, Aug. 23 vs. Pécs.