Geno Auriemma: UConn must balance effort and player health

(David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports)

UConn took down Villanova and Maddie Siegrist 60-51 on Saturday, despite still being down players.

Currently with just nine available players, even some of them aren’t completely healthy. Caroline Ducharme is still recovering from her concussion while Dorka Juhász played just 35.5 minutes during the game after spraining her ankle on Friday during practice.

Even still, their defense kept Villanova to a season-low 25 rebounds.

“We’re Connecticut, so the expectations are such that we have to win every game and we have to win the Big East championship every single year. And we got to win the tournament every year and we gotta go to the Final Four every year,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “When you get in a situation like we’re in this year, it has a little different significance I think.”

Balancing the regular season with postseason aspirations is something that he’s keeping front of mind, he said.

“Like what’s more important: you go all out to try to win the next three games and then we go all out trying to win three games in the Big East Tournament and then we limp into the NCAA tournament because we’re not 100% or even 80% healthy?” he continued. “So this is one of those years where right now (it’s like), play every game as hard as we can. But the main focus is trying to keep everybody as healthy as they can. So having a two-game lead, you know that can disappear in two games. … So it’s breathing room but it’s not anything more than that.”

Lou Lopez Sénéchal had 22 points to lead all players, while UConn limited Siegrist to 21 points. Aaliyah Edwards (13 points, 14 rebounds) and Juhász (14 points, 10 rebounds) each had their 10th double-double of the year.