In a room charged with expectation, UConn women’s basketball standout Paige Bueckers took her spot at the women’s basketball media booth for Big East Media Day.
The preseason AP All-American offered a confident thumbs-up, reported Maggie Vanoni of CT Insider. It’s a simple gesture, but for those familiar with Bueckers’ story, the unobstructed lift of her left thumb, free of any support, spoke volumes.
Bueckers has had to navigate a tumultuous year and half, having been benched due to injuries. But the thumbs-up she offered at the media event was a testament to how she feels about the upcoming season, with the official tip-off set for Nov. 8 against Dayton.
“To still have people believe in me, believe what I can do on the court, it means a lot,” Bueckers said. “And just coming back from injury, sort of having that confidence, having other people still have confidence in me it means a lot. But at the end of the day, like preseason awards don’t really matter at all. You got to go out there and prove it.”
See Bueckers giving the thumbs-up with her left thumb was all the more reassuring, since the guard jammed her left thumb during the first couple of weeks of official pracitce this month. She missed a couple days of practice but has returned, just “limited” but Auriemma said he wasn’t worried about.
“I’m not worried about it,” Auriemma said.
This fall marks Bueckers’ comeback to the court, having sat out the entire previous season to heal from an ACL injury incurred in August 2022. This setback occurred shortly after she had to miss 19 games of her true sophomore season in 2021-22, a result of a different knee injury.
Despite not playing for a year and a half, Paige Bueckers has continued to earn accolades, most recently being named a Preseason AP-All American and a Big East Preason Player of the Year.
“The difference between having Paige and not having Paige is, you know, your chances of competing for a national championship just went up exponentially,” UConn women’s basketball head coach Geno Auriemma said.
The UConn Huskies were ranked No. 2 on the AP’s preseason Top 25 poll. With the return of Paige Bueckers they are poised to challenge defending champion LSU for the top spot.
“It’s just like an overwhelming feeling of excitement,” Bueckers said. “Just getting back on the court, back playing basketball and doing what I love most.”
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