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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Monday, August 25, 2014

UConn's Morgan Tuck, Gabby Williams expected to be 100 percent before first practice

As luck would have it UConn women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma was walking through the halls at Gampel Pavilion as I was working on some football stories and blogs and I was able to sit down with him for about 15 minutes. I got caught up with a lot of news including updates of how the rehabilitation process is going for veteran forward Morgan Tuck and freshman guard Gabby Williams, who both underwent season-ending knee surgeries last year.

First up, here is what he had to say about Tuck.

"She is just starting to do that (basketball-related activities) now," Auriemma said. "She is going to do some individuals this week and try to add to it next week and by the third week of September, she could be cleared to go. Usually these guys, they don't look forward to preseason conditioning in September, all the workouts and all the individual stuff that they are doing but I talked to her today and she said I have never been so anxious and so excited to start individual (workouts) and preseason conditioning. I think she will be pretty happy when they get started."

Tuck will bring so many dimensions to the 2014-15 UConn team with her ability to play inside and outside. She is an outstanding defense, underrated passer and can score in so many different ways.

"We didn't see it last year except for a couple of times," Auriemma said. "I went back and watched the Stanford game and the Cal game at the Garden and you really get to see Morgan playing and you say 'it is a miracle that we were able to get through the season and win the whole thing while not having her.' Losing Stefanie, you lost a couple of players so bringing Morgan back into the mix is like adding a couple of players. The other players are kind of anxious too because they know how many areas she can help us in. She is not just a one-dimensional kid."

Here is what he had to say about Williams, who suffered serious knee injuries in each of her final two high school seasons. So how is she progressing?

"Good, same thing (as with Tuck). We are starting (individual workouts) a week from Tuesday, give them a week to acclimated to everything. they went home towards the last part of August so she is going to get with Rosemary (Ragle, UConn's athletic trainer) and I would expect that by the time practice starts that she is going to be ready to do (everything)."

He was also in favor of Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis not being invited to the U.S. national team training camp next month so she can focus all her energies on getting ready for her senior season.

"I think more from way her injuries and the way her season went last year, I think that in my opinion, it was better for her to be here and get herself ready for us and for herself this season," Auriemma said. "That's a position where they are loaded with pros so I think it is best that she stays here and works out with our players."

With incoming freshman Kia Nurse spending the summer training with the Canadian national team and with Nurse set to play in the FIBA World Championships, I wanted Auriemma's take on how much this summer will benefit her.

"I think the maturity that Kia has is really what separates her from most incoming freshmen," Auriemma said. "Most incoming freshmen are used to playing high school basketball and it is a huge adjustment. I think Kia, by virtue of being on the Canadian national team, has made herself almost a sophomore coming in instead of a freshman and the style of play that Canada has is very similar to what we do in more ways than one so she is somebody that because she is not here right now that few people talk about but she is probably the one who is going to be the most intriguing of all the freshmen, I am looking forward to seeing her both in Bridgeport, in Istanbul and when we get back here in October."

I also asked Auriemma for his reaction to former UConn guard Brianna Banks landing at Penn State and whether that was a good landing spot for her.

"We will see," Auriemma . I think UConn was a good spot but unfortunately there are some things you have to do (to remain at UConn). I think having a year off, getting a chance to kind of gain some perspective by being away from it, hitting the books a little bit. It is a big place and they have a really good program. I am sure having a year to practice with the team is going to help a lot. I saw her this summer. I am rooting for her, let's hope she makes it."

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