- Sep 9, 2015
- Reaction score
Ghosts of Huskies Past
Quickly getting down to business, UConn (1-0) opened the season by avenging last year’s only regular season defeat. The Huskies jumped on the Arkansas Razorbacks with an opening 17-2 run on the way to a 95-80 victory. The win in Hartford was the Huskies only tune-up before traveling to the Bahamas to face Minnesota (3-1) in the first Huskie/Gopher match-up since the 2004 Final Four. Minnesota and UConn have played twice. Both times, Gino Auriemma’s squad has prevailed (85-60 in 1990 (Gino’s first Final Four team) and 67-58 in 2004).
Auriemma may have fonder memories of Minneapolis than he does of the Bahamas. That’s because UConn’s national championship run began at Target Center in 1995. With the NCAA Final Four returning to the City of Lakes, Auriemma expects to arrive in Minneapolis this Spring led by last season’s Player of the Year, Hopkin’s Paige Bueckers.
Bueckers played 40 minutes against Arkansas (Gino tends to keep his best players on the court). In the first quarter, the 5’11” guard launched one shot, which she missed. Then, over the next three quarters, Bueckers went 15-18 on her way to a career high 34 points. She also contributed 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 0 turnovers. Bueckers is entering Breanna Stewart and Diana Taurasi territory, or at least she can see the entry gate that will open to that territory if she can lead the Huskies to an NCAA title.
Bueckers, of course, has some help. 5’11” senior guard Christyn Williams scored 18 points and grabbed 8 rebounds in 36 minutes versus the Razorbacks and 6’-0” senior guard Evina Westbrook finished the game with 15 points and 8 rebounds in 38 minutes. And we are waiting for 5’11” freshman guard, Azzi Fudd to break into the starting five. Against Arkansas, Fudd came off the bench to provide 7 points and 3 rebounds in 19 minutes.
Upon her arrival in Storrs, Paige Bueckers, embracing the ghosts of Huskies past, famously said, “I want to win four”. Her first NCAA title was denied by upstart Arizona in the national semifinals. As a result, UConn is aiming at Minneapolis in seeking a title restoration. While the Huskies have not missed a Final Four since 2006-07, UConn hasn’t won an NCAA championship since 2015-16. It’s a non-title streak that generally only bugs UConn fans. For many of us, curating and expanding the Pantheon of Huskies Notables is not high on our list of endeavors.