Paige Bueckers’ March Madness Diary: Gearing up for the match

Editor’s observe: UConn Huskies star Paige Bueckers is checking in periodically throughout the NCAA Tournament for The Associated Press. She is recovering from an ACL damage.

I’ve all the time been a fan of March Madness.

Growing up I bear in mind watching UConn personal it. Sure, I bear in mind Stewie (Breanna Stewart) profitable 4 in a row, however my first reminiscence was when Stefanie Dolson helped the Huskies win. She was my favourite UConn participant rising up.

Fast-forward to the previous few years after I’ve really obtained to expertise taking part in in it myself. It might not have been the norm with my first 12 months being within the San Antonio bubble due to COVID and final season I used to be getting back from damage, nevertheless it’s an incredible feeling to play on the sport’s greatest stage.

You work so laborious as a competitor to play on this and win on the finish of the season.

As a lot of this 12 months I’m out recovering from a torn ACL damage that I suffered over the summer time. I’ve been working laborious during the last six-to-seven months on rehabbing. There’s nonetheless a strategy to go, however day-after-day I’m getting robust and more healthy. I’ve been in a position to do extra basketball drills throughout observe, however nonetheless am a bit method from contact.

I’ve trusted my religion and know that God does every thing for a cause and that’s helped me by this. Even although I can’t play I’ve discovered different methods to assist the crew. You don’t see sure issues while you’re taking part in and I’ve damaged issues down on the bench giving ideas right here and there. I’d relatively be “Player P” than “Coach P” however now I do what I can to assist us win.

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I discovered final 12 months by no means take something without any consideration after I went down with an damage and was lucky sufficient to return again and play in my hometown of Minneapolis for the Final Four.

The season is lengthy and grueling and a few folks get drained, and I remind them that they’re blessed to play basketball and play right here at UConn.

I additionally know that I can nonetheless be a constructive position mannequin for teenagers whereas I’m not taking part in. I bear in mind after I was younger attempting to get Maya Moore or Lindsay Whalen’s signature and the way particular that made me really feel. Whenever I’m at video games, I take a couple of minutes and take selfies with folks and signal autographs.

I can be a task mannequin in different methods. My damage is sadly too widespread in girls’s basketball and there are numerous others who’ve gone by it. It’s a protracted course of and I hope my restoration can assist encourage others to maintain their religion and proceed to work laborious to get again wholesome.

Obviously, we’ve one aim in thoughts and that’s profitable a championship, however affiliate head coach Chris Dailey does a terrific job of serving to us have enjoyable, too.

The different night time we had dinner at Coach’s (Geno Auriemma’s) restaurant and performed a thriller recreation with a pajama celebration theme the place we had to determine who the “Riddler” was. Everyone on the crew was assigned a task and coach was on the aspect not taking part in, however stirring the pot attempting to distract everybody.

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There’s little doubt that Amari (DeBerry) and Aaliyah (Edwards) had been essentially the most dedicated to their roles and costumes.

Of course Azzi (Fudd) was the offender we needed to guess. It was a enjoyable night time.

CD places this stuff collectively to assist us get out of our flats the place we spend a lot of the day watching basketball. Of course, that’s half the enjoyable of March Madness — watching all of the video games. We’re particularly excited to observe our males’s crew play.

Until subsequent time, go Huskies!

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