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UConn wants Azzi Fudd to stop overthinking and play ‘free’

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

Azzi Fudd is learning not to overthink her game with UConn basketball.

During an exhibition game in Italy this offseason, she put up 31 shots in a single game. Only nine of those went in. But that was OK.

“Her demeanor, her focus never wavered,” her father Tim Fudd said. “She shot every shot like she was supposed to shoot it and like it was meant to go in.”

Even though Fudd has been in and out of the Huskies’ lineup with injuries over her first two seasons, her growth has been evident. And as she heads into her junior year, she’s aiming to continue that trajectory.

“That was one of the hardest adjustments, and I think I struggled with that my whole freshman year,” Fudd said. “Like looking back at my game l’m and watching myself I can see like that’s not the player I am. So ever since that year ended, that was my goal (to) never play like that again. Like, just focusing on trying to get my mental side stronger and healthier, which is something that, you know, you can’t fix in the weight room or with (UConn’s athletic trainer) Janelle (Francisco) in the training room.”

Her body language, according to her parents, is the biggest tell for when Fudd is beginning to lose confidence in her game. But as she’s matured, she’s getting out of her own head.

“That’s something I still am working towards, kind of playing without thinking if that makes sense,” she said.

The new mentality has impressed head coach Geno Auriemma. And if she stays healthy, she could become one of the team’s two biggest offensive threats this season alongside Paige Bueckers.

“We’re trying to get her to just play free and clear. Don’t worry about, you know, trying to be perfect,” Auriemma said. “She wants everything to be 100 percent every time. But that’s starting to go away little by little. She’s not a natural risk taker, you know? Which maybe good because Paige and Nika (Mühl) take so many risks that we probably need a steady person out there.

“But she’s adding more to her game than just catch and shoot, catch and shoot, catch and shoot. I bet she’s gotten to the basket and finished in the lane more in, you know, these few practices than maybe she did all last season.”