Bob Bueckers, father of UConn star sophomore Paige Bueckers, doesn’t want his daughter to be too quick to return to the court.
Bueckers missed her 11th game in a row on Sunday after injuring her left knee in the final minute of UConn’s Dec. 5 win over Notre Dame. The reigning National Player of the Year had surgery to repair an anterior tibial plateau fracture and lateral meniscus tear on Dec. 13. At the time, UConn announced that her estimated recovery time was roughly eight weeks, putting her return on track for early February.
“My biggest fear as a father is coming back too early,” Bob Bueckers told Connecticut Insider. “It’s really hard to tell a 20-year-old who thinks they’re invincible not to come back too early … I need to get a better grasp of what the plan is and understand what a realistic time frame is. To be honest with you, I really didn’t like the 6-8 weeks recovery time frame. That didn’t sit well with me.”
In mid-January, head coach Geno Auriemma said that Bueckers was off her crutches and taking practice shots, though UConn has yet to announce a specific date for her return. Last week, freshman Azzi Fudd returned to the court after being sidelined since Nov. 14 with an ankle injury.
“I know when I was 20, I thought I was invincible, like, ‘I want to get back with my team; let’s roll,’” Bob Bueckers continued. “I understand that. However, there are other things we need to think about. There’s a difference between the bone healing and coming back and being ready to play. That, to me, is another 6-8 weeks.
“The optics weren’t great when that came out and I didn’t express it to anybody, but I expressed it to her and I said, ‘I don’t know if that’s realistic and we just have to do what’s best for you and your body, so you don’t have to rush back because that would be a mistake.’”
Previously, Auriemma has stressed not rushing players back too early from injuries. When Fudd went down in November, he said they would be “cautious” because “it’s a long season, and even more importantly, it’s a long career for her.”
UConn, however, has struggled without Bueckers on the court, losing to multiple unranked opponents in a season for the first time since 2003-04. After dropping out of the top 10 for the first time since 2005, the Huskies have rebounded, polling at No. 10 in the last two rankings.