UConn sophomore guard Azzi Fudd returned to the court on Wednesday night as the Huskies claimed an 82-52 victory against St. John's. Geno Auriemma's leading scorer had missed eight games due to a right knee injury.
"It's a matter of getting more comfortable, and she's done that," associate head coach Chris Dailey said during Wednesday night's press conference. "We thought this was going to be the day, but we had to base it on how she felt the last two days and how she felt today at practice."
Fudd only played 20 minutes, but she made the most out of it. She wrapped up the night with 14 points on 6-of-11 shooting, including 2-of-4 from 3-point range. She also contributed with three rebounds and an assist. Fudd had been averaging over 20 points per game this season, and Dailey said her performance hasn't skipped a beat despite her sitting out for over a month.
"If someone turned on the TV and they were watching the game, I'm not sure they would know that she hadn't played since December 4th," Dailey said. "She was defending, she is not a one-way player. I think people notice and know about her shooting, but her cutting, her defense, she is a good passer. She is a more all-around player that I think people maybe give her credit for because she is such a great shooter."
Auriemma had missed the previous two games due to illness, but the coach also made his return on Wednesday. Dailey took over during his absence -- which has been four games this season. Although she took care of business while Auriemma recovered, Dailey said the team got a morale boost by seeing him return
"It felt like a month, it did. It really felt longer than a week," Dailey said when asked how it felt to coach without Auriemma. "They've handled it really well, but I think they are really happy that he is back."
It's been a challenging time for the Huskies as they have dealt with multiple injuries, illnesses and other issues this season. The struggles even led them to postpone their game against DePaul, which was originally scheduled for Jan. 8 but has now been moved to Jan. 23. That change of schedule also caused the Seton Hall game to be moved from Jan. 19 to Jan. 17 to alleviate compression caused from rescheduling the UConn-DePaul game.
UConn has handled the adversity well, as shown by the squad's 14-2 record and No. 4 ranking. Up next for the Huskies, they will take on Georgetown on Sunday, Jan. 15 at the XL Center.