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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

UConn's Morgan Tuck to miss remainder of season

After several days of soul searching, sophomore forward Morgan Tuck reluctantly pulled the plug of the remainder of her sophomore season as she is planning to undergo a season-ending surgery on her right knee.

Tuck missed eight games after undergoing surgery on her right knee on Nov. 12 but was able to return when UConn played at Duke on Dec. 17. She had five straight games playing double-digit minutes highlighted by scoring a career-high 19 points in 13 minutes in a Jan. 7 win over Houston.

However, Tuck felt some discomfort in her knee while going in for a layup in that game and has not played or taken part in a full practice since.

"That surgery didn't fix the problem, it just kind of cleaned it up so this surgery is supposed to fix the problem of the cartilage missing," said Tuck, who is averaging 7.5 points and 2.4 rebounds in eight games. "It is really difficult. I missed a lot of the season so far but I am going to be missing the most important part of the season so that (stinks) ."

Tuck said the issue is that she has part of her knee without cartilage and that was the area where she got the painful bone bruise. She will undergo a procedure where a piece of cartilage from a non-weight bearing part of her knee will be inserted into the area where she doesn't have cartilage. She said that doctors considered doing this surgery back in November but with a six to nine month recovery period, she chose to roll the dice that a scope would make it so she could play this season.

"I felt like if I did the real surgery, the scope could have worked and I missed the season for no reason," Tuck said. "I talked to my parents a lot, coaches, doctors and tried to get the pros and cons and feel like I need to fix the problem instead of trying to delay it.

"There is no guarantee with any surgery but I am pretty confident that after this I will be good to go.

"I never planned  on redshirting and I don't want to redshirt just because I want to be able to leave with my class that I came in with but things happen for a reason and I am going to try to make the most of it."

Now UConn has to wait until the season is over to apply for a medical hardship waiver.

With UConn playing 31 regular-season games, one more than the Huskies normally play, and one game in the conference tournament, she would meet the criteria for a fifth season of eligibility for not playing in the second half of the season and by playing in fewer than 30 percent of the Huskies’ games.

Still, it is up to the NCAA to grant her the additional season which UConn coach Geno Auriemma admits is not a 100 percent proposition.

"Those decisions are made at the end of the season, there is no rhyme or reason to it," Auriemma said. "I have seen kids denied it that you would think it is an automatic so I don't know. Once you play, it is kind of our of your hands. If you never play, that is different, that is easy but once you play and you play the number of games that Morgan has played so we will go through the process and see what happens."

Junior guard Brianna Banks will also miss tomorrow's game against South Florida putting UConn back to seven healthy full scholarship players.

Banks rolled her left ankle during a shooting drill last week and tried to practice and play through it. But after playing three minutes in Wednesday's win over Memphis, she decided to shut it down.

"I still played on i it but the swelling never went down so now it is about 10 days later and it still hasn't gone down and it still kind of hurts," Banks said. "I was struggling during shootaround (on Wednesday) a little bit and I said 'I am going to try to play.' I tried and Rosie (UConn athletic trainer Rosemary Ragle) said 'just sit it out.' The swelling is going down a little bit but they are still concerned about this one area of my ankle that continues to swell. If the swelling doesn't go down by this weekend we are going to take some other precautions.

"I just try to keep a positive attitude, that is what I learned from my ACL; you can't have a negative attitude and then expect to do something positive. If I keep a positive attitude and do everything Rosie asks me to do every day, I will get back on the court and do what I have to do."

So UConn is back to playing with seven scholarship players.

"We went five weeks in a similar situation and we are going to have to do it again for however many weeks are left in the season," Auriemma said. "The fact that we have been already been able to do it, there is a confidence level that we can pick up for her going forward. Obviously it is not going to be as easy when the games start to really matter."

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