How Paige Bueckers Injury Affects the UConn Huskies and the 2022-23 Women’s College Basketball Season

Paige Bakers, star guard for UConn Huskies, has suffered a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee, which is able to sideline her within the 2022-23 school girls’s basketball season and trigger a ripple impact all through the game.

A standout participant within the sport, Bueckers has been the primary recruit within the 2020 class and has helped UConn attain the ladies’s fourth last in every of the previous two seasons. The Husky fell in a championship sport in opposition to the South Carolina Gamecocks in April in Minnesota, the house state of the Bakers.

The 5-foot-11 Bueckers, turning 21 in October, had a powerful freshman season for Husky and had been the unanimous Nationwide Participant of the 12 months within the 2020-21 season. She had surgical procedure on her proper ankle after that season, however is again able to go for 2021-22. Nevertheless, close to the tip of Ocon’s victory over Notre Dame on December 5, Beckers sustained a fracture of the anterior tibial plateau and a meniscus tear, additionally within the left knee. She missed 19 video games, then got here again in late February.

The Bakers averaged 20.0 factors and 4.9 assists as a freshman and 14.6 and 4.0 as a sophomore. We have a look at how a Bakers harm will have an effect on the Huskies and the Nationwide Championship race this coming season.

How is the Bakers harm affecting UConn for the 2022-23 season and what changes would the Husky household make with out her within the squad?

There isn’t any doubt {that a} crew that was one win away from successful the Nationwide Championship 4 months in the past faces an uphill battle because it seeks to return to the fifteenth consecutive last. Shedding three WNBA picks — Olivia Nelson Ododa, Kristen Williams and Evina Westbrook, the primary two of whom have been rookies for 3 and 4 years, respectively — was as adjustment because it was. However the Bakers’ absence removes an overtaking guard and passer, the formidable shooter and captain from a program working the longest run with out a nationwide title since his first win in 1995.

The Husky household is now all the way down to 4 wholesome yard gamers: sophomore Izzie Fad, sophomore Caroline Ducharme, rookie Nika Mull and transferring Fairfield alumnus Lopez Senecial. And solely Muhl is the true base guard.

There have been instances final season, when Fodd and the Bakers had been out for months, the Yukon performed with solely three wholesome guards. It isn’t out of the query that one thing like this might occur in 2022-23 if the Husky suffered a extra dangerous harm. Regardless, this lack of depth is not splendid for the extra guard-oriented system that Geno Auriemma likes to run. Additionally be aware that Ducharme is coming off a hip harm within the low season and that Fudd has been collaborating in crew drills on a restricted foundation whereas attempting to totally recuperate from the foot harm that has crippled her for many of her first yr.

Muhl has excelled on the finish of the final two seasons, however he must be dependable as all the time with sturdy determination making and error-free play. (Then who would be the backup level guard?

Then there’s Fudd, the Bakers’ shut buddy and primary fellow common recruiter. With so many veteran gamers graduating and the Bakers sidelined, Fade is now burdened with extra offensive duty than she anticipated for what she hopes will probably be her first full wholesome season at Storrs. She should emerge shortly because the star, so many anticipate her to finally turn into if the Huskies are to attain a lot of their similar targets this season.

It isn’t as if the Huskys are left with none sturdy gamers in 2022-23, however their cap is way decrease with out a participant just like the Bakers, who just isn’t solely individually proficient, however makes his teammates even higher. – philippo

How far does UConn fall within the pre-season polls?

Within the newest ESPN Means-Too-Early Prime 25 rankings on June 14, we had the Huskies second behind defending champion South Carolina, with the Stanford Cardinal, Tennessee Woman Falls and Texas Longhorns among the many prime 5. The Bueckers are clearly a key ingredient to the crew, however the Huskies have performed practically three months with out their last season. And since this harm is in early August, the crew would not have to regulate to her absence halfway by way of.

Nevertheless, Husky canine will fall out, maybe even within the prime 5. For now, that will be an affordable place for UConn – say sixth or seventh – contemplating that the Huskies additionally misplaced veterans Williams, Westbrook and Nelson Ododa. – Voepel

UConn performs Texas, NC State, Duke, Notre Dame and Iowa or Oregon within the first month of the season. How can huskies get out of that schedule?

Final season, the Huskies practically beat Louisville with out Fudd and Bueckers and managed to beat Tennessee with out the Bueckers, so it isn’t inconceivable that they might compete in opposition to high quality groups with out the Bueckers. Nevertheless, it would not be surprising if UConn’s early 2022-23 slate regarded a bit like the best way 2021-22 went: experiencing many bumps within the street when each Huskies had been attempting to determine issues sans Bakers (and delegates on the time ), however then extra rhythm was discovered because the season went on, even whatever the Bakers’ return.

The timing is not solely of their favour, at the very least so far as the higher-caliber competitors centered within the first month of the season, because the crew should basically reinvent itself with out Williams, Nelson Ododa, Westbrook and the Bakers. UConn will seemingly have figured issues out additional, although, with their rematch for the nationwide title in opposition to South Carolina on February 5. – philippo

How does a Bakers harm have an effect on the Nationwide Championship race subsequent season?

UConn received an epic regional last in opposition to NC State final season to advance to the 14th consecutive last. There was a variety of considering that the streak would finish final yr, as some confidence within the Huskies waned through the Bakers’ exit. However as soon as she did, it appeared like they had been again on monitor shortly.

It is a totally different image this season with the Bakers sidelined. The Gamecocks, with final season’s prime nationwide participant returning at Aliyah Boston, can be a really sturdy choose to repeat, in addition to being the primary crew within the SEC (though Tennessee may very well be a contender).

Stanford, the 2021 champions, is all the time capable of reload shortly after casualties, and that would be the case once more this season after dropping guards Lexi Hull, Lacey Hull and Anna Wilson. With the return of stars like Haley Jones and Cameron Brink, in addition to the addition of 6-7 Lauren Betts, the Cardinal will probably be a favourite searching for the championship. Tennessee and Texas each picked up a variety of expertise from the switch gate, as did Louisville, NC and LSU. Iowa and Iowa State are each bringing again a variety of their expertise from final season, and each will probably be among the many prime groups of their conferences.

The final 11 NCAA titles had been at UConn in 2016, and Bueckers’ absence makes the drought more likely to proceed. Nevertheless, it was already a really aggressive group of seemingly contenders, even with Bueckers in good well being. – Voepel

How does that have an effect on the 2023 WNBA Draft, for which the Bueckers had been eligible? And what does that imply for her future at UConn, the place she has three years of eligibility left?

The Bokers will flip 22 in October 2023, which implies they’ll be capable to depart school early and enter the 2023 Draft. WNBA guidelines state that gamers who’re 22 years outdated in the identical calendar yr from the draft are eligible for it even when they aren’t seniors .

However Bakers has beforehand mentioned that it doesn’t plan to enter this upcoming draft. She was one of many higher gamers to learn from identify, picture, and likeness offers, and the affiliation with the UConn model identify is larger, frankly, than any WNBA crew.

NIL’s probabilities permit the Bueckers to benefit from her recognition with the Huskies and in school basketball, so most of them anticipated to play the following two seasons in school and go within the 2024 draft, and famous that this was additionally her plan. Nevertheless, as a result of further yr student-athletes have gained eligibility as a consequence of COVID-19, it may possibly already keep till 2025.

Now, together with her dropping the 2022-23 season, will the Bakers nonetheless be within the 2024 draft, having performed simply three seasons at UConn? It will depend on how she recovers and the way she feels. If she needs to have all 4 seasons in school, we cannot see her till the 2025 draft. Or she will be able to keep all the best way till 2026. She has proven a powerful need to win a nationwide championship, in order that may be an element. – Voepel