Creating an opponent wishlist for UConn's future schedules
Who we’d like to see added to the UConn women’s basketball schedule.
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“While the 6-foot-3 Juhász might seem to be another body in a somewhat crowded UConn frontcourt on paper, she adds an element the Huskies were previously missing: An offense-first option in the low post. Juhász’s ability to score in a variety of ways is her biggest strength, doing some from in the paint, on the perimeter or off the dribble.”
“Whether or not it’s fair to compare them as players, there are some similarities between Katie Lou Samuelson’s role as a freshman and what Ducharme could be this upcoming season.”
Last week’s Weekly
An opponent wishlist for UConn’s future non-conference schedules
This past week, UConn announced it would play Louisville on Dec. 19 as part of the Basketball Hall of Fame Showcase at Mohegan Sun. The Huskies are also set to play Notre Dame and Texas at home with trips to Oregon, South Carolina, and the Bahamas for the Battle 4 Atlantis.
UConn still needs to finish the postponed series with both Cal and Oklahoma, though neither game has a date at the moment. There were also reports of a home-and-home with Maryland back in 2019 that was never officially announced.
Once the Huskies can get through the mess caused by the school’s move to the Big East (which cut four non-conference games off the schedule) and the pandemic, they’ll have some more flexibility in the future.
With that in mind, here are some of the teams we’d like to see added to the schedule. These are in alphabetical order and don’t include any of the aforementioned teams.
If this past season was any indication, Paige Bueckers and Caitlin Clark are going to be two of the biggest names in college basketball for the new few seasons. While we got the first meeting between the two in the Sweet Sixteen this year, Bueckers vs. Clark is going to be an extremely marketable game and should happen each of the next three seasons.
With Kim Mulkey now in charge in Baton Rouge, LSU should fill the spot that Baylor has previously owned on UConn’s schedule. Though she has a fairly sizable rebuild in front of her, Mulkey dominates on the transfer market, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Tigers re-enter the national scene quickly. At the very least, LSU should give the Huskies the type of tough, physical test they won’t get from many other teams in the county.
Coached by former UConn forward Carla Berube, Princeton went 26-1 during her first year at the helm in 2019-20 before the pandemic canceled the NCAA Tournament. The Tigers, along with the rest of the Ivy League, didn’t play this past season either.
While Berube has a lot to prove in her second year in Princeton — especially after losing Bella Alarie, the No. 6 pick in the 2020 WNBA Draft — she built one of the top programs in Division III at Tufts and seems to have a strong foundation in place.
The two teams were supposed to open this past season against each other in the Basketball Hall of Fame Challenge at Mohegan Sun before a member of UConn’s program tested positive for COVID-19.
Quinnipiac has clearly established itself as the second-best program in Connecticut and though that’s still a long way off from UConn — the Huskies beat the Bobcats by 25 in the NCAA Tournament a few years ago — they’re still a quality mid-major opponent.
Although last year’s game was scheduled for Mohegan Sun Arena, a home-and-home series would be fun, especially when the Huskies would go to play in the 3,570-seat People’s United Center. Considering UConn played road games at the University of Hartford and Colgate in the last decade, it’s not out of the realm of possibility.
Stanford is the reigning national champion and primed to be the top challengers to the Huskies over the next few seasons with a core that includes Anna Wilson (2021 Pac-12 Co-Defensive Player of the Year), Cameron Brink (2021 Pac-12 All-Freshman Team), Haley Jones (2021 Final Four Most Outstanding Player), Lexie Hull (2021 Final Four All-Tournament Team) and Lauren Betts (the No. 1 player in the class of 2022).
The two teams have battled in the past and any regular season matchup could prove to be an early preview of the Final Four or national championship.
Though the rivalry will never be what it was between 1995-2008, UConn-Tennessee is a game that should be on the schedule every year. This past season’s meeting was a thriller that featured a game-sealing 3-pointer from Paige Bueckers in the final minute. The Vols should only get better under Kellie Harper, too.
Even though it is no longer a battle for supremacy in the sport, UConn-Tennessee is still synonymous with women’s basketball and the last two meetings have drawn as much media hype and attention than any other regular season matchup in recent memory (aside from when the Huskies won their 100th straight game in 2017). Any women’s basketball game that puts that much of a spotlight on the sport should be played as much as possible.
UConn has rarely played competitive games against USF — the Huskies are 29-0 all-time against the Bulls with only one meeting decided by single-digits. But Geno Auriemma and USF head coach Jose Fernandez are close friends and a yearly trip to Tampa would once again allow a large contingent of UConn fans to see the team in person.
Although UConn and Vanderbilt don’t share much history (they’ve met just eight times with the Huskies winning six), it would a matchup of master vs. apprentice with former assistant Shea Ralph now in charge in Nashville. A potential series with the Commodores would be better a few years from now after Ralph has some time to build up the program which would give Vanderbilt a chance to be competitive and serve as a good resume booster for UConn.
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UConn's players officially arrived on campus this past weekend:
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