Here’s how each UConn women’s basketball player can help the Huskies in the Final Four


Paige Bueckers looked like the Paige Bueckers of old Monday night. Azzi Fudd no longer looks or plays like a freshman. And the rest of the starting lineup for the UConn women’s basketball team seems to have found its groove.

The Huskies are poised for the Final Four in Minneapolis, facing Stanford Friday at 9:30 p.m.

The starting lineup knows its role and is playing the part. The question for this team will become how much they can get from their bench players, especially without Dorka Juhász, who was injured Monday night.

Here’s a look at what each available player is bringing to the team and how they could improve during March Madness:

Paige Bueckers

Connecticut guard Paige Bueckers (5) during the first quarter of a college basketball game against Indiana in the Sweet Sixteen round of the NCAA women’s tournament, Saturday, March 26, 2022, in Bridgeport, Conn. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Frank Franklin II / Associated Press

How she’s helping: Things were slow for Bueckers initially. The sophomore was eased into the starting rotation and her minutes have ramped up since then. By Saturday’s Seeet 16 game in Bridgeport, she was playing 33 minutes and Monday she played 45 in the double overtime win over NC State. Minutes and stamina are no longer a concern, clearly. And while she showed some hesitation early on, that was erased in the second half and overtime of the NC State where she scored 23 of her 27 points.

What she needs to do: UConn coach Geno Auriemma has said the sophomore still has her good days and bad days and that he didn’t have high expectations for her. He didn’t say that Bueckers needed to do what she did in the NC State game in the Final Four, but he has said players win games from the Elite Eight on, not programs. If Bueckers the players steps up the way she did – or even relatively close – the opposition should be nervous. Senior Christyn Williams admitted Bueckers’ confidence and poise elevates the rest of the team and if she has both, watch out.

Azzi Fudd

UCONN's Azzi Fudd shoots a jumper during her team's 75-58 defeat of Indiana in their Sweet Sixteen NCAA basketball tournament game at the Total Mortgage Arena in Bridgeport, Conn., on Saturday, March 26, 2022.

UCONN’s Azzi Fudd shoots a jumper during her team’s 75-58 defeat of Indiana in their Sweet Sixteen NCAA basketball tournament game at the Total Mortgage Arena in Bridgeport, Conn., on Saturday, March 26, 2022.

Brian A. Pounds / Hearst Connecticut Media

How she’s helping: After coming back from a December foot injury, Fudd has become the standout freshman everyone anticipated. She’s a dangerous shooter and a quick defender. She has showed confidence in the tournament so far in shooting and driving to the basket and, speaking of minutes, she played a whopping 49 on Monday.

What she needs to do: Opponents have caught on to Fudd. They’ve planned their scouting reports around stopping the freshman often with double-teams. Fudd needs to continue to show her all-around game during these moments. Either way, Auriemma has said he plans to leave her in because she helps stretch the floor when the Huskies have the ball.

Christyn Williams

BRIDGEPORT, CONNECTICUT - MARCH 26: Christyn Williams #13 of the UConn Huskies celebrates in the second half against the Indiana Hoosiers during the Sweet Sixteen round of the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament at Total Mortgage Arena at Harbor Yard on March 26, 2022 in Bridgeport, Connecticut. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

BRIDGEPORT, CONNECTICUT – MARCH 26: Christyn Williams #13 of the UConn Huskies celebrates in the second half against the Indiana Hoosiers during the Sweet Sixteen round of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament at Total Mortgage Arena at Harbor Yard on March 26, 2022 in Bridgeport, Connecticut. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Elsa / Getty Images

How she’s helping: Williams is showing once again she’s a different player in the postseason. She’s more aggressive, more consistent, and looks more confident overall. The Big East Tournament Most Outstanding Player was also named to the All-Regional team.

What she needs to do: She should keep doing exactly what she’s doing. If she can hit a few more 3-point shots (0-3 Monday, 2-8 Saturday) the Huskies are incredibly dangerous.

Evina Westbrook

UCONN's Evina Westbrook races the ball upcourt defended by Indiana's Grace Berger, left, during her team's 75-58 defeat of Indiana in their Sweet Sixteen NCAA basketball tournament game at the Total Mortgage Arena in Bridgeport, Conn., on Saturday, March 26, 2022.

UCONN’s Evina Westbrook races the ball upcourt defended by Indiana’s Grace Berger, left, during her team’s 75-58 defeat of Indiana in their Sweet Sixteen NCAA basketball tournament game at the Total Mortgage Arena in Bridgeport, Conn., on Saturday, March 26, 2022.

Brian A. Pounds / Hearst Connecticut Media

How she’s helping: Westbrook was playing some of the best basketball of her UConn career coming into the tournament. She’s still a consistent part of the rotation and provides the Huskies a spark. A starter on most NCAA teams, she’s played 15 and 18 minutes the last two games and helps the Huskies on both ends.

What she needs to do: Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer told the media this week the Cardinal has a little more depth. Westbrook may want to take that personally. If she can pull off some consistent scoring, she’s as good as a starter on any other team.

Olivia Nelson-Ododa

Connecticut forward Olivia Nelson-Ododa (20) drives to the basket against Indiana forward Aleksa Gulbe (10) during the first quarter of a college basketball game in the Sweet Sixteen round of the NCAA women's tournament, Saturday, March 26, 2022, in Bridgeport, Conn. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Connecticut forward Olivia Nelson-Ododa (20) drives to the basket against Indiana forward Aleksa Gulbe (10) during the first quarter of a college basketball game in the Sweet Sixteen round of the NCAA women’s tournament, Saturday, March 26, 2022, in Bridgeport, Conn. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Frank Franklin II / Associated Press

How she’s helping: Nelson-Ododa has become a dependable inside threat for UConn over the past four years. She repeatedly uses her length and aggressiveness down low, resulting in blocks, rebounds and loose balls. She has also become a strong passer from the post.

What she needs to do: Stay out of foul trouble. With Dorka Juhász hurt, the Huskies need Nelson-Ododa and Aaliyah Edwards eligible to be on the court at any given moment. Consistent finishing around the rim and sinking her foul shots would be a big boost, as well.

Nika Mühl

Connecticut guard Nika Muhl (10) reacts during the first quarter of a college basketball game against Indiana in the Sweet Sixteen round of the NCAA women's tournament, Saturday, March 26, 2022, in Bridgeport, Conn. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Connecticut guard Nika Muhl (10) reacts during the first quarter of a college basketball game against Indiana in the Sweet Sixteen round of the NCAA women’s tournament, Saturday, March 26, 2022, in Bridgeport, Conn. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Frank Franklin II / Associated Press

How she’s helping: The Big East Defensive Player of the Year is UConn’s most disruptive force on defense. She grabs steals unlike the others and thrives in a fast break transition. She played eight minutes Monday, but it was about as disruptive as eight minutes could be for NC State.

What she needs to do: While Auriemma has said that Mühl’s OK with not scoring, it would help if she could contribute more to balance the offense. Meanwhile, she just needs to be ready to provide that needed spark.

Aaliyah Edwards

Connecticut forward Aaliyah Edwards (3) drives against Indiana guard Nicole Cardano-Hillary (4) during the second quarter of a college basketball game in the Sweet Sixteen round of the NCAA women's tournament, Saturday, March 26, 2022, in Bridgeport, Conn. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Connecticut forward Aaliyah Edwards (3) drives against Indiana guard Nicole Cardano-Hillary (4) during the second quarter of a college basketball game in the Sweet Sixteen round of the NCAA women’s tournament, Saturday, March 26, 2022, in Bridgeport, Conn. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Frank Franklin II / Associated Press

How she’s helping: An up-and-down season turned into a consistently ‘up’ season toward the end of the regular season and certainly since the Big East Tournament began. She has been a force, more confident and certianly more reliable.

What she needs to do: Continue the consistency and, similar to Nelson-Ododa, stay out of foul trouble with the Huskies’ lacking the depth down lowthey had a week ago.

Caroline Ducharme

Connecticut guard Caroline Ducharme (33) puts up a shot against Indiana forward Aleksa Gulbe (10) during the second quarter of a college basketball game in the Sweet Sixteen round of the NCAA women's tournament, Saturday, March 26, 2022, in Bridgeport, Conn. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Connecticut guard Caroline Ducharme (33) puts up a shot against Indiana forward Aleksa Gulbe (10) during the second quarter of a college basketball game in the Sweet Sixteen round of the NCAA women’s tournament, Saturday, March 26, 2022, in Bridgeport, Conn. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Frank Franklin II / Associated Press

How she’s helping: Ducharme was given the room to step up and show just how skillful she can be after Bueckers went down. The freshman has shown she is not only a dependable scorer but she can rise to the occasion in big moments. But she hasn’t been used as much lately with Auriemma relying heavily on his starters.

What she needs to do: We’ve seen that Ducharme is capable of crazy, clutch blocks and steals but that’s not always present every game. When she gets called upon off the bench the next two games, she needs to provide that spark.

Dorka Juhász

Connecticut forward Dorka Juhasz (14) drives against NC State center Elissa Cunane (33) during the second quarter of the East Regional final college basketball game of the NCAA women's tournament, Monday, March 28, 2022, in Bridgeport, Conn. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Connecticut forward Dorka Juhasz (14) drives against NC State center Elissa Cunane (33) during the second quarter of the East Regional final college basketball game of the NCAA women’s tournament, Monday, March 28, 2022, in Bridgeport, Conn. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Frank Franklin II / Associated Press

How she’s helping: Juhász struggled Saturday but boosted the Huskies on offense and defense Monday. That was before she fractured and dislocated her wrist. She will miss the remainder of the season.


What she needs to do: She did not make the trip with the team Wednesday. It is unclear whether she will meet up with them before Friday.

Piath Gabriel