Paige Bueckers doesn’t want to feel disappointed again.
Despite winning national player of the year as a freshman and being named a first team All-American, the UConn phenom still has a bitter taste in her mouth from the Huskies’ 69-59 loss to Arizona in the Final Four.
She spoke with the media on Tuesday, and according to The Hartford Courant, Bueckers has only one thing on her mind.
“All I’m focused on is winning a national championship. I don’t care about any individual awards,” Bueckers said. “Not just this year, but the remaining years I have left in college.”
She’s had to recover from an April surgery on her ankle that has left her on the sidelines for the spring, but should be fully recovered by the start of the school year. She says that it’s hard for her to just watch from the sidelines when her favorite thing to do is play basketball, but the time out has enabled her to see basketball through a new light.
“Especially with time off from the game, you miss it, and so you start to learn more and see it through a different perspective,” Bueckers said.
Part of that learning is growing to be more assertive in her game, something that coach Geno Auriemma says he would like to see more of from Bueckers.
“I definitely see what he’s talking about,” Bueckers continued. “I watched a lot of film on last year. I’m definitely coming out with a more aggressive approach. Instead of sort of letting it come to me, I have to go take it myself.”
She added that going into her sophomore year she feels as though she’s more mature, able to step into more of a leadership role that she hopes will translate into a national title.
“[I want to improve] my talking, my leadership and my ability to use that in big moments, not shrivel up and just let everybody else do everything for me,” Bueckers said. “I’ve got to go out there and lead and just be there for my teammates.”