UConn's Tuck on a postseason roll
Well, looking at the way Tuck was able to move around the court in Saturday's regional semifinal win over Mississippi State, it certainly looks like the precautions are paying off.
"I don't have to worry about my knee at all, it feels normal and like my other knee," Tuck said of her surgically-repaired right knee. "It feels really good that we finally figured it out and have it feeling great at this time of the year."
Tuck's troublesome right knee led to her being limited to eight games during the 2013-14 season. She was shut down for a couple of weeks with the hope that rest would help her deal with soreness in the knee.
Tuck returned against Tulane on Feb. 3 and five days later played 33 minutes in a win over South Carolina. Tuck has played at least 20 minutes Beginning with a Feb. 27 win over Tulane in each of the last 10 games. After playing 35 minutes in a second-round win over Duquesne, Tuck tied for the team lead with 28 minutes in Saturday's win.
Tuck finished with 19 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals. She did nearly all of her damage in the first half as the Huskies took a 61-12 lead into the locker room at halftime.
"Any time Tuck is playing that way we are pretty much unbeatable," UConn senior Moriah Jefferson said.
TEXAS TO SQUARE OFF AGAINST UCONN AGAIN
Day after day the returning Texas players were left to ponder what transpired in the final game the Longhorns would play during the 2014-15 season.
Texas advanced to the regional semifinals only to fall to UConn 105-54. It was a humbling end to an otherwise impressive season.
Thanks to a 72-64 win over UCLA, the Longhorns will meet the Huskies once again as the teams will square off in the regional final on Monday at 7 p.m.
"I think we were very aware in terms of our off season about how we ended our season last year, so we tried to put in the work coming into the tournament and during the season, so we could come in with a higher seed and try to our best to go as far as possible," said Texas senior center Imani Boyette, who had 18 points and 10 rebounds against UCLA. "But we have no clue, so far, about how we're going to play (Monday), because we were focused on UCLA and our opponent today and getting through them. We couldn't try to play Connecticut if we hadn't beat UCLA. We had to respect them, and we did."
UPSETS ALL THE RAGE
Like so many people across the country, the UConn coaches and players were watching Friday night's games when the four lower seeds won the regional semifinals. A South Carolina and Notre Dame, both No. 1 seeds, fell to Syracuse and Stanford respectively opening things up rather considerably on the opposite half of the bracket.
When the dust settled, No. 4 seeds Syracuse and Stanford advanced along with No. 7 seeds Tennessee and Washington with one of those four teams guaranteed to appear in the national championship game.
"For women's basketball, I think people think they know who is going to win and that is who also wins but for those wins, that is great for women's basketball," Tuck said. "It is exciting to watch but we take it as we don't want it to be us."
How rare is it to have all three of the top seeds in a regional eliminated before the Elite Eight? Well, the last time it happened came in 2001 when fifth seeded Missouri State defeated No. 6 seed Washington to reach the Final Four. Now that is the scenario in both the Sioux Falls and Lexington regions.
"As a fan and as a friend, playing USA Basketball with some of them, growing up with some of them, it is sad to see that their careers are over or cut short because when you have really great players, you want to see them do really well in March," UConn senior forward Breanna Stewart said.
"For the younger guys, they are going to have a lot of motivation coming back next year but I am sure that this one hurts."
The upsets did have special meaning to a pair of Huskies.
Stewart's former AAU teammate with the Philly Belles Brittney Sykes had 17 points and nine rebounds as Syracuse upset South Carolina 80-72.
"I just know watching Syracuse, I was really happy and proud of Brittney Sykes," Stewart said. "She went through two ACL surgeries and she is out for almost two years which you don't want to wish on anybody. They did what they wanted to do, they beat South Carolina and now they are in the Elite
Eight, first time in program history and they deserve it. When you have been through a lot like that and things go so well, how could you not wish that on somebody."
Stanford's win hit even closer to home for UConn freshman Katie Lou Samuelson since her older sister Karlie had 20 points in the victory against Notre Dame.
"Well, I got super excited when she banked in that three (late in the fourth quarter)," Samuelson said. "Mo (Moriah Jefferson) is my roommate, she can tell you. She was laughing at me the whole time."
UCONN-NOTRE DAME TO CONTINUE SERIES
UConn and Notre Dame have agreed to a four-year extension of the home and home series.
This will be the first year that the teams won't meet in the Final Four since 2010. After Notre Dame headed to the Atlantic Coast Conference, they didn't meet in the regular season during the 2013-14 season but played in each of the last two seasons.
The series will begin next season with a game in South Bend.