Auriemma criticized the Huskies for being ‘selfish’ after the game

What should have been an exciting evening for the UConn women’s basketball team came to an end on Monday, as the Huskies pulled out a 60-51 Senior Night win over Xavier in Storrs, Connecticut. in the regular season of the Big East. title but left coach Geno Auriemma nervous.

“It’s time to stop blaming injuries, stop blaming fatigue, stop blaming fatigue,” Auriemma said after his Huskies were shut out by a Xavier team that finished without a win in the Big East. “We are where we are.”

When asked if his team could improve enough to extend its 14-game streak to the finals, the Hall of Fame coach replied: “The way we are right now, this team, the way it is right now, don’t Add everyone. .. what doesn’t happen, [though] they can deceive me.”

After losing 2020-21 national player of the year Paige Bueckers in the preseason to an ACL tear, the Huskies have struggled with injuries and reliance on starters for most of the season. Nowhere was the absence felt more than that of former No. 1 overall pick Azzi Fudd, who has appeared in just two games since injuring her knee Dec. 4 against Notre Dame.

Until recently, UConn seemed to have overcome this crisis, in Auriemma’s eyes, after being tough and mature, collecting non-conference victories over Texas, NC State, Duke, Iowa, Florida State and Tennessee. They even reached the upset of undefeated defending champion South Carolina just three weeks ago, and Auriemma immediately said he was more excited about his team than he was going into the game.

But the Huskies are down to the regular season finish line, as their last 10 games have all been decided by 10 points or less. Since their game against the Gamecocks, they have lost back-to-back games (to low-ranked Marquette and St. John’s) for the first time since March 1993.

Auriemma admitted that his current lineup is not “ready to play that many minutes under that kind of pressure and he has to work every day” with players who are suddenly overmatched in Bueckers and Fudd. . Even now, the coach says the lack of consistency is “probably the biggest disappointment,” and he thinks the issue has more to do with the players not accounting for it.

“We don’t think hard. We don’t talk about defense, we don’t communicate,” Auriemma said. “This has nothing to do with fatigue or weakness. This has to do with a lot of selfishness and most of you don’t want to change… I’m talking about the choice when they want to listen. how to train them, and I define that as selfish, that you only care about what you want to do and not what you are expected to do.

Auriemma also took responsibility, saying: “We look like an undisciplined team, and that’s me and my staff.”

Most of UConn’s recent woes have come on the ugly end. In their last 10 games, the Huskies have cracked 70 points just twice, often committing pointless turnovers, looking disorganized or simply unable to score.

“Somewhere along the line, maybe after the South Carolina game, we lost our way,” Auriemma said. “In the beginning… everyone touches the ball, we move, we flow from each other, we focus on each other, we communicate, we are in coordination. This requires a lot of work, we sit. like this, because it will can go like that, you have to work to get it, and if you stop working there to keep it, it’s gone, and now you have to work twice as hard to get it back.

The Huskies can get a boost from their next game.

Graduate student Dorka Juhász, who sat out Monday after straining her leg Saturday against DePaul, is expected to play in the Big East this weekend, according to Auriemma. Fudd was warming up before the game, though the team did not say when she would be able to return.

Auriemma said of Fudd, “It’s not going to be easy if it happens at all, but at the same time, if it happens, it’s better than if it doesn’t happen.”

Auriemma said it’s not too late for UConn to get back on track, but it will take collective buy-in in the locker room. The first step to doing that is getting a strong showing in the Big East tournament, where the Huskies are the No. 1 overall seed and are set to face the winner of Butler-Georgetown in Saturday’s quarterfinals.

Playing nearly three games in three days could be a difficult task considering how Auriemma’s players have been sluggish recently.

“If we don’t fix some things,” Auriemma said, “I don’t think we’ll make it three games.”

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