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Healthy Azzi Fudd gives UConn ‘best chance to go far’ in postseason

(David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports)

Azzi Fudd’s return has brought with it some optimism for UConn’s postseason chances. 

The guard has missed the majority of the last three months due to knee injuries, joining a long list of UConn players to have suffered injuries this season. She made her return on Saturday, subbing in off the bench with 4:15 remaining in the first quarter. 

“March Madness, tournament time,” Katie Fudd, Azzi’s mother, told CT Insider. “It’s just nice seeing her out on the floor doing what she loves again. We’re hoping every game gets better.”

Fudd’s father, Tim, meanwhile, called it “nerve-wracking but exciting.”

The game, the sport, teaches us to handle adversity. As coaches, you lean on that and understand there’s light at the end of the tunnel and it’s going to work itself out,” he said. “From a parent’s perspective, you care for your kids and you just want them to have a great experience and be healthy along the way.”

She was first injured on Dec. 4 against Notre Dame, UConn’s first loss. After eight games out, she returned on Jan. 11 but reinjured the knee four days later. 

Fudd had 10 points and four assists through 17 minutes on Saturday, and she spoke on the mental difficulties of having injuries back-to-back.

“I was just thinking, ‘I just came back, it happened again,’” Fudd said. “However many weeks. You don’t really know. Thinking about the end of the season, do I have enough time to come back or am I done for the season?

“This was always my goal, to come back for tournament time. I was mentally prepared, when waking up this morning, I was very excited.”

Head coach Geno Auriemma, who has remained bullish on his team’s postseason chances, sung a different tune on Saturday.

“The impact [Fudd] is going to have on the team, you can’t calculate that,” Auriemma said. “It’s just everything, the confidence the team gets knowing she’s out there. I always said, if we didn’t get Azzi back, and Caroline [Ducharme], it was going to be a short postseason for us. Having Azzi and hopefully Caroline back, it gives us the best chance to go far, in this tournament, and the next one.”

And if you ask the competition? UConn has a better chance now than they did before for a postseason run.

“When you have Azzi, you’re talking about a Final Four type of team,” Georgetown coach James Howard said.