Legendary UConn women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma is officially sticking around.

The school announced on Tuesday that it had signed the longtime coach to a five-year contract extension worth $18.7 million. His base salary will be $400,000 per year, with additional compensation for speaking, consulting, and media obligations as well as performance-based incentives, per a UConn press release issued Tuesday. 

That additional compensation will start at $2.94 million for the 2024-25 season and increase by $200,000 each year after that.

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Auriemma will enter his 40th season at UConn this fall, having led the program to 11 NCAA championships and 15 Final Fours over the last 16 years. 

His extension also means that he will likely become the all-time winningest coach in Division I basketball history after Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer announced her retirement in April. She retired with 1,216 total wins, while Auriemma sits just three wins behind her with 1,213 career wins. 

"I still find it hard to believe that I've been at UConn for over half my life," Auriemma said. "I feel like there's so much more that can be done, and will be done, and I'm excited to be the one to do it with my staff and my team. I'm probably as excited about these next few years as I've ever been over the last 40."

The Huskies will enter the upcoming season as known contenders, with Paige Bueckers set to return alongside Azzi Fudd and KK Arnold, amongst others. They'll also have Sarah Strong, the No. 1 overall recruit for the class of 2024, alongside the No. 2 recruiting class for that year.

"Geno has been such a mainstay at UConn that it's impossible to overstate his lasting positive influence on our student-athletes, the women's basketball program, and Connecticut as a whole," UConn president Radenka Maric said. "His leadership and nearly 40 years of commitment to our university have brought immeasurable value and name recognition to both UConn and the entire state.

"We know he has even more to demonstrate and teach all of us in the years ahead — not only about leading a world-class basketball program, but also about living a life of conviction, compassion, and service. The university is fortunate to have him continuing in this role, and we look forward to the successes ahead under his strong leadership."

UConn women’s basketball’s Caroline Ducharme is out for the remainder of the season, the school announced Tuesday.

Ducharme has been dealing with head and neck injuries that have kept her out of the team’s lineup to this point. On Tuesday, Ducharme said that while she’s been working to return, she’s made the “difficult decision” to focus on a full recovery for next season.

“I have been working tirelessly with my medical team to make a full return to basketball after sustaining head and neck injuries,” she said in a statement. “It has honestly been a frustrating process with many ups and downs. At this time, the difficult decision was made to take a step back and not play the remainder of the 2023-24 season so I can focus on my recovery full time.”

She’s the fifth player to miss UConn’s season with an injury, joining freshman forward Jana El Alfy (Achilles), junior guard Azzi Fudd (ACL), senior forward Aubrey Griffin (ACL) and post player Ayanna Patterson (knee).

The injuries leave the Huskies with just nine available players.

Ducharme played just four games this year, the same amount of games she missed as a freshman. She missed 17 games last year with concussion issues.

UConn senior forward Aubrey Griffin will miss the remainder of the season after suffering an ACL tear in her left knee, the team announced Wednesday.

Griffin is set to have surgery “at a later date,” per the team’s statement.

The fifth-year senior suffered the injury on Jan. 3 in the team’s win over Creighton. Prior to the injury, Griffin was averaging 9.5 points and 6.0 rebounds through 14 games. She’s the fourth player to suffer a season-ending injury for UConn this season. She joins Azzi Fudd (ACL/meniscus), Ayanna Patterson (knee) and forward Jana El Alfy (Achilles) on the list. Junior guard Caroline Ducharme is currently out indefinitely with head and neck spasms.

The outlook for the injury had not been good, with a Creighton team doctor telling UConn head coach Geno Auriemma that the knee was “very unstable.”

There had been no contact on the injury.

“Aubrey’s had to overcome a lot. She had one of these [injuries in high school],” Auriemma said after the game against Creighton. “She missed a year at UConn when she needed back surgery. You’re just heartbroken for the kid when it’s their last year and something like this happens.

“The basketball part is actually really secondary, you try to say, ‘Wow, how are we going to replace her on the basketball court?’ I don’t think anybody thinks like that. It’s more the rest of your teammates knowing that you’re going to have to fight your way through this, and it’s not an easy one.”

Paige Bueckers isn’t rushing her decision on whether or not she’ll enter the WNBA draft.

While Bueckers is a projected first-round pick in the 2024 WNBA draft, the UConn star said on Tuesday that the deciding factors aren’t limited to the WNBA and which teams have picks.

Bueckers was asked on Tuesday if UConn’s injuries have impacted her decision to return or go pro next season. Injuries to Azzi Fudd, Aubrey Griffin, Jana El Alfy, Ayanna Patterson and Caroline Ducharme have all impacted the team this season and seriously dampened its championship potential.

“I think that’s what it’s all about,” Bueckers said. “It’s not about teams in the draft; who’s got what pick. It’s all about me loving playing here, me loving my teammates and wanting to get more experiences and more time with them and more time in the program. And so that’s, I think, the deciding factor — just wanting to be here longer and not anything necessarily that’s already picked and chosen in the draft.”

Bueckers has herself dealt with injuries that have impacted her college career, including an ACL injury that kept her out of last season. The year previous she missed 19 games en route to helping the Huskies reach the 2022 national title game.

She joked on Tuesday about the prospect of head coach Geno Auriemma wanting her to return. Due to her injuries, Bueckers has two years of eligibility remaining.

“At the beginning of the season he didn’t want me back. Now he probably wants me back,” she said. “It just depends on the ebbs and flows of the season but, still a conversation I’m gonna have.”

UConn beat Creighton on Wednesday night, but not without losing another player to injury in the process.

Aubrey Griffin, a member of the Huskies’ starting lineup, went down with a non-contact injury in the third quarter after attempting to block a shot. She had to be helped off the court, and was putting no weight on her left leg.

Postgame, head coach Geno Auriemma said that the team will know more after testing.

“Apparently, she went to put her foot down and her foot turned in,” coach Geno Auriemma said. “And it kicked her knee in. There wasn’t anybody around her. There wasn’t any contact. … The team doctor from Creighton came out and he pretty much said the knee is very unstable. I guess we’ll know more when we get a test.”

It wouldn’t be the first time that Griffin missed time with an injury at UConn. She did not play as a junior due to a back injury that required surgery. She also suffered a knee injury in high school.

“Aubrey’s had to overcome a lot,” Auriemma said. “You just are heartbroken for a kid when it’s their last year and something like this happens. … The basketball part is actually really secondary, you try to say, ‘Wow, how are we going to replace her on the basketball court?’ I don’t think anybody thinks like that. It’s more the rest of your teammates knowing that you’re going to have to fight your way through this, and it’s not an easy one.”

Aaliyah Edwards told SNY’s Chelsea Sherrod postgame that it was “really tough” seeing a “core” member of the team go down.

“Just hoping and praying that everything’s okay,” Edwards added.

Griffin’s injury is just the latest in what has been another injury-ridden season for the Huskies. Azzi Fudd (knee), Jana El Alfy (Achilles) and Ayanna Patterson (knee) are out for the season, while Caroline Ducharme, who has been dealing with head and neck problems, is still not close to a return.

The loss of Griffin would leave UConn with just nine scholarship players and 18 games to go.

After collecting three losses before the start of conference play this season, no doubt many college basketball fans questioned the state of the UConn dynasty.

But Aaliyah Edwards has been playing high-quality basketball of late, helping the Huskies to prove the doubters wrong. 

“When (Aaliyah) plays the way she’s played these last four, five games, she’s an All-American player,” head coach Geno Auriemma said to CT Insider’s Maggie Vanoni after UConn’s match against Toronto Metropolitan — a homecoming game scheduled specifically for Edwards in her home country.

Edwards relished her Canadian welcome. She mouthed along to “O Canada,” and is proud of the show that she put on north of the border. 

“I hope it leaves a big impact on just women’s basketball in Canada,” Edwards told CT Insider. “I know a lot of people were there to support either myself or of UConn, but I would just encourage anybody just to go watch their local team, just women’s basketball in general…”

The sold-out crowd at Mattamy Athletic Centre exploded into applause for Edwards when her name was called in UConn’s lineup before the match. Her recent play deserves this level of fanfare.

The Huskies’ last five games have been wins for the team. And in those games, Edwards is averaging almost 19 points per game. Against Toronto Metropolitan, UNC, Ball State and Butler, the senior forward put up double-doubles. 

The senior and her high-scoring teammate, Paige Bueckers, have hit their stride for UConn and it’s reflected in the team’s success. The energy is palpable for Auriemma as well. He told Vanoni that he likes the positive energy his team is feeling into the holiday break. 

“I like where we are right now,” he said.

Yet another UConn Husky will be sidelined for an extended period of time after a serious injury. This time, it’s Ayanna Patterson. 

Patterson will be out for the remainder of the 2023-24 season after undergoing surgery on her left knee for patellar tendonitis that she’d been experiencing since high school. The sophomore hasn’t appeared in any games for UConn so far this season, but last season she made 30 appearances for the squad. Patterson averaged two points and two rebounds per game during her freshman season. 

“Ayanna’s been dealing with patellar tendonitis since high school. She’s been rehabbing and undergoing treatments and decided with our medical staff that it was time to take care of the issue,” Huskies head coach Geno Auriemma said in a statement on Friday. “We’ll support Yanna through her rehab process and we anticipate she’ll make a full recovery. We look forward to having her back with the team on the court.”

Patterson’s injury predates her time with the Huskies, but this is not the first of UConn’s injury woes. Most notably, Paige Bueckers missed an entire season with a torn ACL in 2022-23. In fact, Bueckers has missed so much playing time that she only has 56 college games under her belt as a senior.  

This season, Azzi Fudd’s ACL and MCL injuries are the biggest hit to UConn’s roster. Fudd appeared in two games for the Huskies in 2023 before injuring her knee at practice in November. 

UConn is off to one of its worst starts to a season in recent memory, and while there could be multiple factors at play to cause the relatively poor start, the quantity and severity of injuries on the team could be the biggest contributor.

Tiffany Hayes is retiring from the WNBA, she announced on a new episode of the “Counted Me Out” podcast. But the 2017 All-Star still plans to play in international leagues.

“You could still catch me overseas,” Hayes said. “I just figured I’d focus on one thing and then summer time I could turn up my business. I could turn up life with my family and just live life like that.”

The 2023 WNBA season ran from May through September, while most international leagues operate on the opposite seasonal schedule, running from the fall through the spring. Hayes is playing for Shanghai in the Chinese Women’s Basketball Association this offseason.

“I don’t want to play two seasons anymore. I’m really at a crossroads right now. Which one do I play?” Hayes told The Athletic while playing in Turkey last offseason.

After playing 10 seasons with the Atlanta Dream, the 34-year-old guard signed a one-year deal with the Connecticut Sun in 2023. She averaged 12.1 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.6 assists.

“It’s a lot of things,” Hayes said about her decision to step away from the WNBA. “I really feel like I’m older now. I got a lot of stuff that I really always want to get into but I’m so busy ’cause I’m playing year-round. Plus, my body, playing 11 seasons straight with no breaks, every year, two seasons in a year every time, that’s a lot.”

Hayes won two NCAA championships with UConn in 2009 and 2010, then became the No. 14 pick in the 2012 WNBA Draft. Hayes made her only All-Star appearance in 2017, and she was named to the All-WNBA First Team in 2018.

Once again, UConn basketball is navigating major injuries.

This season, though, the Huskies are doing so with Paige Bueckers on the court instead of on the sidelines – but that doesn’t mean there aren’t challenges.

Already UConn is dealing with two season-ending injuries to Azzi Fudd and Jana El Alfy. Ayanna Patterson and Caroline Ducharme also are sidelined.

As a result, Bueckers has been tasked with playing multiple roles. And while she’s the best player UConn has, it’s taking some time for her teammates to adjust both to having her back in the lineup and to her playing new positions.

“We’re not completely there yet on how to seamlessly incorporate all the other people with the way Paige wants to play. And I don’t know when that will be 100% like I like it,” head coach Geno Auriemma said Sunday, as reported by CT Insider. “Right now, we just have to go with what we got and hope that every game we can get more contributions from more people.”

That means better off-ball movement around Bueckers, who runs the offense for UConn.

“We have to find a way to get more people consistently engaged around her,” Auriemma continued. “If she’s not getting enough assists, that means we’re not doing a good job moving without the ball because she would find you if we are, and that’s been a serious problem for this team for quite some time now.”

Through nine games, Auriemma has experimented with six different starting lineups. It’s about the Huskies attempting to “mix and match and find our way,” according to Auriemma. But eventually, he trusts, the team will figure it out.

“We’re all still trying to figure out how to play together as a basketball team and get sort of a chemistry within each other,” Bueckers said. “We’re all just trying to figure out how to be the best in our roles that we can be every single night and stay consistent in that.”

Paige Bueckers took the court for the second half of No. 17 UConn’s game with No. 24 North Carolina with 998 career points to her name. Fifteen seconds later, she reached 1,000. 

KK Arnold grabbed a steal in the Huskies’ defensive end. She barrelled down the court, and when she reached the key, she dished to Bueckers on her right side. Buckers crashed the net with the ball in hand and tapped a layup off the glass. 

After she tied Maya Moore to become one of the fastest UConn basketball players to reach 1,000 career points, Bueckers fell to the floor, rolled to her feet, and continued playing. 

A minute and a half later, Bueckers collected her own steal in the Huskies’ end and drove to the hoop again for another easy layup. And she celebrated her 1,002nd point instead of No. 1,000. 

As UNC called for a timeout, Bueckers puffed out her chest and screamed into the roar of the Connecticut crowd. Her teammates flocked to her and celebrated her achievement at her side. 

“Maya is one of the GOATs, so to be in that space is just amazing,” Bueckers said to ESPN after the game. “It’s just a testament to all that my teammates have done for me, all that my coaches have done for me, I’m just a product of what they do for me, so extremely grateful and it’s an honor to be next to her.”

Bueckers showed out at the Invesco QQQ Basketball Hall of Fame women’s showcase. She dropped 26 points against the Tar Heels and unleashed her defensive prowess as well, batting four blocks and making three steals. 

“I don’t know if it was the shooting sleeve or what but I felt like I was just trying to contribute to winning in any way that I can,” Bueckers said to ESPN. “I feel like if I play hard on the defensive end, stuff goes better for me on offense.”