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Geno Auriemma: Azzi Fudd ‘getting stronger’ as UConn’s run continues

Azzi Fudd is “definitely the best shooter that I’ve ever played with,” UConn’s Nika Mühl said. (David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports)

Any questions of just how much UConn women’s basketball missed Azzi Fudd were answered Monday, as the star sophomore played her best game since her return from injury in the No. 2 seed Huskies’ 77-58 second-round win against No. 7 seed Baylor.

Fudd played 37 minutes and scored 22 points in the victory, both the highest marks for the guard since Nov. 27, just before she sustained the first of two knee injuries that kept her out for most of the season.

While coach Geno Auriemma did not plan to lean quite so heavily on Fudd in just her fifth game back from injury, her ability to play — and to play at a high level — is a credit to her recovery process. And she’s still “getting stronger,” he said after the game.

“That’s way more than I wanted to play her,” he said. “But at the same time, that just goes to show you how far she’s come back and how she feels…

“I’m just glad she’s healthy and can play because I know how much she’s missed it. But the impact that she has on a game is just immeasurable.”

Fudd scored 16 points in the third quarter, more than the whole Baylor team, though she demurred when asked about her impact on the game.

“I think everyone played an incredible role tonight, but just keeping that mindset of being aggressive and having my teammates and the coaches continuing to remind me to don’t stop shooting, keep shooting, keep looking for your shot, I think that’s what it was,” she said.

Indeed, the 5-11 sophomore is still finding her shot after her injury-riddled season. She shot 40.9% (9-for-22) from the field Monday, better than in any game since her return from her second knee injury on March 4, but below the 53.3% shooting efficiency she managed before her first injury on Dec. 4.

Her teammate Nika Mühl, though, said the Huskies still feel Fudd’s impact, even as she continues to work her way back to full strength.

“Azzi’s trying to be humble here, but if she misses 100 shots that game, I would still get her the last shot for the win,” Mühl said. “That’s how good of a shooter she is. She is definitely the best shooter that I’ve ever played with. Her shot is perfect…

“Azzi got hot today, and I can’t wait to see what she’s going to go for the rest of the tournament because it’s only the beginning from here.”

The Late Sub Podcast: Can the USWNT Medal?

The USWNT takes a silly face photo during their team Olympic photo shoot
The USWNT will begin their 2024 Olympic medal hunt on Thursday. (Brad Smith/ISI/Getty Images).

This week, JWS podcast host Claire Watkins discusses WNBA All-Star Weekend, which felt both like a celebration of the league's explosive growth over the past year and a way to set Team USA up for a particularly competitive Summer Olympics.

Later, Watkins previews the field for the upcoming Olympic soccer tournament, nominating her personal "Group of Death" and discussing whether or not the new-era USWNT could still reach medal contention despite their current rebuild under new head coach Emma Hayes.

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Team USA, Germany Play Pre-Olympic Exhibition Game in London

Team USA's 5x5 Basketball Team stands for the National Anthem before Saturday's WNBA All-Star Game
Team USA looks to rebound from Saturday's WNBA All-Star Game loss in an exhibition against Germany today. (Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images)

USA Basketball's 5x5 team will tip off in an exhibition against Germany in London this afternoon, getting in one last tune-up before the Summer Olympics begin.

The US is hunting an eighth-straight gold medal this year, with group stage play starting on July 29th.

Team USA's Kahleah Copper, Alyssa Thomas, Kelsey Plum, and Sabrina Ionescu gear up to face Germany in pre-Olympic exhibition.
Team USA's Kahleah Copper, Alyssa Thomas, Kelsey Plum, and Sabrina Ionescu gear up to take on Germany in London. (Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images)

US to use All-Star loss as fuel

Coming off the weekend's All-Star Game loss, the Olympians are ready to repeat history: They earned their Tokyo gold medal immediately after losing the first Team USA vs. Team WNBA All-Star Game back in 2021.

Breanna Stewart, who led Team USA with a 31-point, 10-rebound double-double on Saturday, said that the defeat "is going to help us tremendously. We don’t get that many game opportunities, [and now] we can go back and watch the film and focus on how we can continue to be better."

Today’s tilt against Germany will see the US work to lock in their defense, particularly in the paint. They'll also lean into their positional versatility before heading to Paris.

WNBA pro Satou Sabally leads Team Germany in today's pre-Olympic exhibition game against Team USA.
WNBA pro Satou Sabally helped Germany to their first-ever Olympic berth. (Axel Heimken/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Olympic debutants Germany enter first US clash

The exhibition marks the first-ever US-Germany linkup. The German team will make their Olympic debut in Paris after decades of failing to qualify for major international competitions. Their sixth-place 2023 EuroBasket finish sent them into February’s FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament, where they punched their ticket to the 2024 Games.

Leading Germany's run was two-time WNBA All-Star Satou Sabally, who put up career-high averages in points, rebounds, assists, and steals with Dallas last season. Her 20-point, 11-rebound double-double was the difference-maker in Germany's must-win 73-71 Olympic qualifying victory over Brazil.

Other German players to watch include 2022 NY Liberty draft-pick — and Sabally's sister — Nyara Sabally, along with Liberty sharpshooter Leonie Fiebich.

Where to watch the Team USA vs. Germany game

Today’s exhibition tips off at 3 PM ET with live coverage on FS1.

1v1 With Kelley O’Hara: USWNT Star Jaedyn Shaw Is Expecting “Dubs All Around”

retired uswnt star kelley o'hara interviewing san diego wave and uswnt forward jaedyn shaw
'1v1' is back with Jaedyn Shaw joining Kelley O'Hara for a conversation about the upcoming Paris Olympics. (Just Women's Sports)

In the latest episode of Just Women's Sports' 1v1 With Kelley O'Hara, San Diego Wave and USWNT star Jaedyn Shaw joins two-time World Cup champion and Olympic gold medalist Kelley O'Hara for a one-on-one conversation about the upcoming Paris Olympics.

We hear from the 19-year-old Wave FC phenom about her first impressions of new USWNT coach Emma Hayes, her experience with international competition at this point in her young career, and how she's preparing to take on the 2024 Summer Games.

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The 91st: Complete USWNT & Olympic Soccer Preview Featuring Jess McDonald

Logo for JWS USWNT Olympic show The 91st
The latest season of JWS' awarding-winning Olympics show 'The 91st' premieres today. (Just Women's Sports)

We're back! Hosts Jordan Angeli, Duda Pavao, and retired USWNT forward Jess McDonald deliver a full preview of this year's Olympic soccer tournament in Paris.

Watch for full analysis of USWNT manager Emma Hayes's coaching style, this team's shifting identity in this new USWNT era, and a projected starting XI for the team's group stage opener against Zambia. The 91st hosts also break down all three Olympic groups — including top players and teams to track throughout the tournament — plus give their predictions for the medal rounds and individual awards.

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