Skills speak volumes for UConn freshman Azzi Fudd | UConn Women’s Basketball
STORRS – Azzi Fudd has pretty much saved herself since arriving here over Memorial Day weekend to join the UConn women’s basketball team.
That’s not to say that she hasn’t impressed her coaches and teammates.
“I think that’s largely what I expected,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said Thursday. “Azzi is very calm, very introverted, doesn’t say much. But his game is much older than his age.
“His footwork is the kind of footwork you would expect from someone coming into the pros, someone who’s spent three or four years perfecting it. This is how good his footwork is. His ability to shoot and the way the shot is done the same way every time. I knew it, but when you watch it regularly, it’s pretty amazing. And she’s a lot stronger than I thought. I had never spent so much time so close. So it was fun to watch her.
Fudd – a 5-foot-11 guard from Arlington, Va. – was the No. 1 rookie in the 2021 class.
She ended her school career being named McDonald’s All-American and Morgan Wooten Girls Player of the Year 2021. She was honored even though her school, St. John’s College Prep in Washington, DC, did not have a season in due to the pandemic.
The Huskies could put three No.1 rookies on the floor this season with Fudd, Paige Bueckers (2020) and Christyn Williams (2018). Fudd and Bueckers were teammates of USA Basketball’s 2017 U-16 team and the 2018 U-17 team coached by gold medal-winning Carla Berube.
“They are both silent,” Auriemma said. “Caroline Ducharme is even calmer than these two. They are just very calm children, but there is an air of confidence with which they walk around.
“Azzi walks around like she’s good. So she and Paige have that in common.
With many of his teammates heading home for the rest of the summer next week, Fudd’s stay in Virginia will be short.
In May, she was selected for the national team that will compete in the FIBA Under-19 World Cup August 7-19 in Debrecen, Hungary. The club’s training camp will open in Colorado Springs on July 19. Her classmate and UConn teammate, center Amari DeBerry, is one of five finalists for three free spots on the 12-player roster.
It has been two months since Bueckers had surgery on his right ankle. Slowly but surely, the reigning national player of the year is making her comeback.
“She got off the boot,” Auriemma said. “She has no more crutches. She is working on her rehabilitation. She did something in the pool. According to her – take this with a grain of salt – when we go back to school on August 30, she will be at 100 percent.
Of course, August 30 is still too long for the second-year guard to wait. Auriemma says she’s getting shot, but worries that Bueckers is pushing himself too.
“But I always check with our sports coach (Janelle Francisco),” Auriemma said. “I’m going to say to Paige, ‘Where are your crutches? “They’re right over there. “How long are you supposed to have on your crutches?” “You know when I’m not around I have my crutches all the time. I said, ‘It’s great but you’re here 10 hours a day so when the hell are you on them?’
“It’s a good thing she’s so good.”
A look at UConn’s schedules over the past 20 years and names like Ball State, Cal State Northridge, Wright State and Colgate appear.
At least these programs had the courage to play some of the best the Huskies had to offer.
“There were a lot of times when we couldn’t get games because people didn’t want to play,” Auriemma said. “I think we have solved this problem a bit. Now we go straight to the athletic director and say, “Your coach is a little short-sighted in not wanting to play us because when we come down to your house you’re going to sell.” And usually the match is scheduled.
UConn has announced additions to future schedules this summer.
The Huskies’ series with Tennessee will continue with the Lady Vols arriving in Connecticut this coming season and UConn visiting Knoxville in 2022-23. The Huskies’ longest-running non-conference series will continue as a two-year extension with South Carolina extends that rivalry through the 2023-24 season. UConn will begin a home series with North Carolina State in Connecticut in 2022-23 with the second leg in Raleigh in 2023-24.
With home games against Notre Dame and Tennessee, road games in South Carolina and Oregon, a neutral venue game with Louisville at Mohegan Sun Arena and three games during Thanksgiving Battle 4 Atlantis, the Huskies have two openings for their no 2021-22. – conference schedule.
Auriemma credited UConn Executive Associate Athletic Director Neal Eskin and retired ESPN Vice President of Women’s Sports Programming and Acquisitions Carol Stiff for their work.
“Programming is always an evolving thing,” Auriemma said. “Sometimes the games are easy to complete and sometimes they are hard as hell. Neal Eskin does an amazing job building relationships with other universities to create games. Carol Stiff at ESPN will be truly missed because she has been a big help in putting together a lot of these games for a lot of schools.
“The schedule is going to be really, really good every year. Some years are a lot more intimidating than others, but I think our fans have come to expect it. “
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