UConn’s Geno Auriemma on missing his 4th game this season: ‘I’m going to take a step back to focus on my health’

UConn head coach Geno Auriemma will miss the Huskies’ game at Xavier on Thursday, his fourth absence from the bench this season.

“It’s been an extremely difficult month for me, and I’ve been feeling under the weather and run down,” Auriemma said in a statement. “I thought I was ready to return, but I need a little more time. I’m going to take a step back to focus on my health and will return when I feel ready.

Associate head coach Chris Dailey will continue to take over head coaching duties in Auriemma’s place. She is 16-0 on her own.

Auriemma, 68, missed two games in December against Florida State and Seton Hall after feeling sick with flu-like symptoms.

He returned until Tuesday night's 80-47 win over Butler. Ahead of that matchup, the team announced that Auriemma was "feeling unwell” and would not “be on the sideline.”

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‘We get one person back and then we lose one’

The Huskies have faced an onslaught of injuries this season. Without Auriemma as well, the No. 5 team has adapted impressively to the unfavorable circumstances.

Star guard Paige Bueckers and top recruit Ice Brady are both out for the season with left ACL tears.

Top shooter Azzi Fudd also suffered a knee injury on Dec. 4 and has been out since.

Forwards Dorka Juhász and Aubrey Griffin are back in play after Juhász missed seven games with a broken thumb and Griffin missed two with COVID-19.

Aaliyah Edwards, Ayanna Patterson and Lou Lopez Sénéchal are the only Connecticut players to appear in every game this season.

Edwards led the team in the win over Butler with 20 points, nine rebounds, three assists and three steals.

Before traveling back to Connecticut, Dailey spoke with reporters about the team’s morale amid those absences.

“This season has been unlike any other. It’s worse than the COVID season because during COIVD you expected that someone could be out, or we could be shut down,” Dailey said. “This is just, every other day, we get one person back and then we lose one, then coach isn’t feeling well. It makes you tougher, it makes you stronger as a group.”

She also gave a positive update on Fudd, who will be crucial for the team's continued success. “She looks good, she has a certain limit to what she can do and we’re building on that for her return to play,” Dailey said. “When she’s ready we’ll know it.”

UConn head coach Geno Auriemma's absence is one of many for the Huskies this season. (Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports)
UConn head coach Geno Auriemma's absence is one of many for the Huskies this season. (Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports)