Paige Bueckers officially has been cleared to resume basketball activity, but fans will have to wait until November to see the UConn guard in action. The Huskies played their first of four exhibition games in Europe on Aug. 16, but Bueckers will not be playing in any of them, the team announced.
Bueckers, the 2021 Player of the Year, missed the 2022-23 season with a torn ACL in her left knee. UConn, which also went without several more key players for significant chunks of time, finished 31-6 before losing to Ohio State in the Sweet 16.
We know you want to know - no game action for Paige Bueckers in Europe.Just another reason to look forward to November! pic.twitter.com/7hCeKI4OzU— UConn Women’s Basketball (@UConnWBB) August 16, 2023
We know you want to know - no game action for Paige Bueckers in Europe.Just another reason to look forward to November! pic.twitter.com/7hCeKI4OzU
“Having Paige back is like a breath of fresh air, like everything changes in the gym,” coach Geno Auriemma told reporters earlier in August. “You know, the minute she walks on the court, everything changes and you can see it in their faces.”
The Huskies will play games in Croatia, Slovenia and Italy on their tour. The games won’t be live-streamed, but replays will be posted on the program’s streaming service the following day. In the first game, UConn defeated the Croatian All-Stars, 113-37, led by 38 points from Azzi Fudd.
In addition to Bueckers, Ayanna Patterson (knee) and Amari DeBerry (back) also are not expected to play on the European trip.
Still, even without a full lineup, each contest provides a preview for November, when UConn plays an exhibition against Southern Connecticut State on Nov. 4 before opening the season four days later at home against Dayton. All eyes will be on Bueckers, who led the Huskies to the national championship game as a sophomore in 2021-2022 despite missing 19 games of the season with a knee injury.
“Paige is bigger, stronger. Paige doesn’t look like (the) skinny little freshmen that came in here three years ago,” Auriemma said before the European trip. “She looks like a college player now.”