Mailbag: Should Azzi Fudd start in the NCAA Tournament?
Plus, comparing Nika Mühl's season to other great UConn point guards, a look at how well Aaliyah Edwards has defended Maddy Siegrist and more.
On Sunday, the wait will finally be over. The NCAA Tournament bracket will be revealed, which means we’ll learn UConn’s matchups, its region and its path to banner No. 12.
Let’s get into the mailbag.
Some questions have been edited for clarity or brevity.
Will Azzi start in the first round of the tournament? — Rose
Would you consider having Aubrey come off the bench as the sixth player? — Foster Y.
This all depends on Aubrey Griffin’s health (more on that in a second) but assuming she’s good to go and Geno Auriemma has a full roster to pick from, Azzi Fudd should start once the NCAA Tournament begins.
The reasoning is simple: Fudd is going to be in the starting lineup eventually, so UConn should use the same five for the entire tournament so that everyone is set in their roles. Fudd is the first name in the lineup when healthy and based on what we saw in the Big East Tournament — capped by a 32-minute effort in the final vs. Villanova — the sophomore has no limitations.
That means Griffin ends up as the odd one out. Nika Mühl, Lou Lopez Sénéchal, Aaliyah Edwards and Dorka Juhász certainly aren’t coming out of the lineup, which leaves the redshirt junior. The Huskies would gain additional flexibility by having Griffin come off the bench because with her and Caroline Ducharme as the top two reserves, Auriemma can replace any of the five starters and still have a functional lineup.
Griffin saw at least 24 minutes of action in every game prior to Fudd’s first injury, so her role wouldn’t decrease, it’d just change.
How is Aubrey’s back? — Russell J.
What happened to Aubrey in the final? — Theodore M.
The previous question might answer itself based on Griffin’s status. In the final vs. Villanova, Griffin only played 12 minutes, came out quickly after the second half began and never returned. Postgame, Auriemma explained her absence.
“Something happened first half, her back started to spasm up,” he said. “So she went in the locker room at halftime, tried to get some work done on it and I thought ‘I don't want her sitting around [and have] it gets worse, so let's let her get out there and loosen up.’ Watching him go up and down the floor twice, I realized she wasn't gonna be able to go.”
It’s concerning that Griffin’s back kept her out after she underwent surgery on her back in January 2022. For what it’s worth, Auriemma didn’t seem that concerned.
“Having had back surgery, I don't blame her,” he said. “I'm surprised it doesn't happen more often.”
How good was Aaliyah Edwards defensively against Maddy Siegrist in all three games against Villanova? — Warren L.
The numbers say it all.
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