Getting close to go time for UConn
If one UConn player would benefit the most from this time away it would be junior guard Kia Nurse, who has been slowed by a right ankle injury in the latter portion of the season, right? Maybe not. Certainly some time has been worked in for Nurse to rest her ankle and continue her recovery process but UConn coach Geno Auriemma thinks having a game or two mixed in over the last couple of weeks wouldn't have been the worst thing for Nurse.
"She is still not 100 percent, you can see it and she probably won't be the rest of the season," Auriemma said. "She looks good, not great but she looks good and she has gotten her timing back a little bit. She needed to be playing so once we get on the court and playing, I think that will really help her a lot."
Nurse missed the final four games of the regular season and was limited to no more than 22 minutes in any of the three games in the American Athletic Conference. After playing at least 30 minutes in 17 games this season, there will come a time in the NCAA tournament when she approaches or surpasses the 30-minute mark.
In an attempt not to head into the NCAA tournament out of sorts, there haven't been long stretches without practices.
"The schedule that we have kind of resembles the schedule we have throughout the season so play a game, have an off day," Nurse said. "We are trying to maintain that schedule."
Nurse has played more than twice as many minutes in the NCAA tournament than any of her teammates, she knows that this is the time of the season when the intensity picks up.
"Everybody you can tell it is that part of the season, that part of March where everything you do has to be precise, everything you do has to be ready game preparation wise," Nurse said. "I think our practices have definitely been showing that."
Nurse, a native of Hamilton, Ontario, will see some familiar faces with six other Canadian natives including five from Ontario in the Storrs subregional.
Albany, UConn's first-round opponent, features three Canadians as Jessica Fequiere is the team's leading scorer, Mackenzie Trpcic is also a Hamilton native and Cassandra Edwards. Syracuse features Ontario natives Julia Chandler and Chelayne Bailey while Iowa State relies heavily on Bridget Carleton, one of the rising stars in the Canadian national team program and a player who has be a team captain on multiple junior national teams.