Three days after completing a stirring comeback without two of its best players, the UConn women’s basketball team was practicing before its trip to Chicago.
And the Huskies were close to having a complete and healthy roster as they ran through a session Wednesday at the team’s practice facility. Gabby Williams was on the court playing, while Katie Lou Samuelson ran through a series of drills.
Both players seem ready to return as UConn plays at DePaul Friday night. Williams missed the second half Sunday against Notre Dame because of a migraine, but she said Wednesday that she’s feeling better.
Samuelson turned her ankle in the fourth quarter and was on the bench during UConn’s comeback. She participated in some drills and will do the same Thursday.
Her status for the game will be determined during Friday morning’s shootaround. But she is ready to play.
“We’re still going day-by-day and figuring things out,” Samuelson said. “But I never want to miss a game. I want to play, but I also don’t want to be dealing with this ankle injury.”
Samuelson sprained her left foot in the second quarter of the second game of the season. She missed four games, returning Sunday and scoring 18 points before twisting her left ankle early in the fourth quarter.
So while she did not aggravate the previous injury, it is in the same area.
“Got a sprained foot, you add a sprained ankle on top of it … it’s not Ideal,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said..
Given UConn has 10 days off after the meeting with DePaul, Samuelson will have plenty of time to rest the foot. But she is also itching to play.
“I definitely want to start playing, but I’ve talked to the coaches and Shea [Ralph] a lot about trying to think about the longevity of this season and how I don’t want to be dealing with this for a while,” Samuelson said. “But I’m definitely ready to get out there and play in a full game.”
Auriemma said the previous injury gives him pause, especially since it’s so early in the season. But he detects frustration.
“She’s missed so many games,” Auriemma said. “After the first game, she’s yet to finish a game. So some of that plays into it. She wants to play and I want her to play. … She’s bugging me to play. A lot of times I’m inclined to let her play.”
Williams has been dealing with migraines since preseason. She is reluctant to talk about it, saying only that she is feeling better and had a good day of practice.
“We’ve got a plan, we’re working on it,” Williams said.
Auriemma said the ailment is not easy to manage and Williams — like Samuelson — gets upset when her play is impacted or when she can’t be on the floor.
“It is kind of day to day,” Auriemma said. “I think she’s getting better at it. The biggest thing is, she just gets frustrated with it. And when she gets frustrated with it, it doesn’t help her, it doesn’t help anybody. So right now, more than anything, we’re just trying to help her with the frustration of it all. Because that’s when she starts playing poorly, when she gets really frustrated.”
Williams said it was no fun sitting on the bench in the second half Sunday. UConn made its fourth-quarter run with freshman Megan Walker contributing on defense and reserve Azura Stevens leading the charge with 10 points.
Given the loss of key players, the comeback was significant for UConn. Moving forward, the Huskies seem capable of absorbing injuries.
“It was fun to watch them pull it out,” Williams said. “They could have very easily just given up right then. They could have given up and had excuses. … That says a lot about their competitiveness and their fight.”
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