Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

UConn's Morgan Tuck healthy, happy

Whenever I see Morgan Tuck play and especially the way she impacts the game positively in so many ways I can't help but recall when Asjha Jones did many of the same things during her UConn career.

Sure, Breanna Stewart looked like the reigning national player of the year that she is as she had 27 points (on 11 of 14 shooting), six rebounds, five assists, two steals and a blocked shot in 16 minutes but when it came time to put the four freshmen in the game at the same time, Tuck was the veteran player UConn coach Geno Auriemma trusted the most.

Tuck played the final 9:14 playing alongside various combinations featuring freshmen Sadie Edwards, Courtney Ekmark, Kia Nurse and Gabby Williams or walk-ons Tierney Lawlor and Briana Pulido. Tuck not only had six of her 22 points and three of her game-high 15 rebounds during that span but she was also extremely vocal and encouraging with the players who are still learning how to play in UConn's offensive and defensive systems.

"Right now I am just grateful to be out there," said Tuck, who missed the final 24 games during the 2013-14 season after undergoing knee surgery. "Sitting out, I have never been out as long as I have been out but even though it was just an exhibition, I am trying to compete and go out and play.

"When I was out there with some of the younger guys, the freshmen, they stressed communication," Tuck said. "I feel like if I try to do that, it helps me out because I am more aware and I am helping out the younger guys. It is always easy to play with Stewie (Breanna Stewart), Kaleena (Mosqueda-Lewis) , Mo (Jefferson) but with the new guys it definitely makes you be a little more focused, really trying to make plays. You can't just coast and float along as if you are with some of the
starters."

Nobody may be more excited to see a healthy Tuck that UConn coach Auriemma because she is equally at ease playing inside or stepping out on the perimeter.

"She is healthy for maybe the first time so maybe that makes her look way better," Auriemma said. "You look back to freshman, sophomore year and she was hurt both years, was never 100 percent so the fact that she may be 100 percent right now makes her look really good. She has looked great in practice, more mobile and doing more things."

Auriemma knew that Tuck would be vocal enough to help the freshmen deal with being out there all at the same time. He also showed incredible confidence in Nurse, telling her that he expects her to provide leadership for her fellow freshmen.
"That was the point," Auriemma said. "I talked to Kia and her about it afterwards that when I put you out there with those guys, I know you are a freshmen and they are freshmen but they are different freshmen than you are so we need you to kind of be assertive. Sometimes it takes being told so between the two of them they can be real sparks off the bench and help us
a lot."

Williams was the last of the available scholarship players to get into the game because she arrived with two right sneakers and no left ones.

"It was an equipment malfunction," Auriemma said. "I don't know how it is in track but in basketball you have to have a right sneaker and left sneaker. You talk about some people have two left feet, well today she had two right ones."

DRUMMING UP SOME CHUCKLES
During a timeout UConn put its bongo drum promotion up on the video board. The fans who had their images shows, for the most part, played along by pretending to play the bongo drum. When the camera turned to Auriemma, he had no idea why so many people were having a few laughs until associate head coach Chris Dailey attempted to explain it to him.

"I didn't see it.," Auriemma said. "She mentioned something about it and I said I don't ever remember playing the bongo drums.

"I'll have to keep an eye on it next time."


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