The No. 1 UConn women's basketball team will be shorthanded once again when it hosts the UCF Knights today at the XL Center.
The Huskies will be without redshirt junior forward Morgan Tuck who could be sidelined for several weeks with a knee injury, according to head coach Geno Auriemma.
The absence of Tuck will hurt the team because of her versatility. Tuck was in the middle of a great season where she was averaging 14.9 points, 5.9 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game.
“We are certainly not the same team without Morgan,” Auriemma said. “ [Having her on the court] takes so much pressure off of Stewie (Brianna Stewart). Somebody will step in and play her role but it won’t be the same.”
The status of UConn senior point guard Moriah Jefferson will also be in question as she sat out of yesterday’s practice. Jefferson’s status for the game will be determined at today’s shoot around, Auriemma said.
One of the players who will be looked at to fill the scoring void left by Tuck will be freshman guard Katie Lou Samuelson. Samuelson is starting to come into her own as a member of the Huskies. Samuelson just picked up her second American Conference Freshman of the Week award after strong performances against Memphis and Temple last week. Against Temple, Samuelson scored a career-high 21 points along with a career high six assists.
Her progress has not gone unnoticed to Auriemma as the freshman continues to adjust to playing at the college level.
“I think there’s been some progress in a lot of areas, not just the defensive end,” Auriemma said. “I think that when you do that you come a little bit more comfortable and things just come a little bit easier for you.”
Samuelson’s play has not gone unnoticed by her teammates. With the absence of Tuck the Huskies will need other players like Samuelson to step up.
“It’s great to see Lou kind of break through and really play the way we all know she is capable of and let everyone else see that,” Stewart said. “I think that is huge for her confidence and huge for her mental state of mind. Everyone knows she can play, but now it is just her building that type of confidence and continuing to go forward with it.”
Auriemma did not name who will replace Tuck in the starting lineup tomorrow.