UConn announced on Tuesday that sophomore basketball star Paige Bueckers will miss 6-8 weeks with a tibial plateau fracture after suffering a non-contact knee injury in Sunday's game.
We're all behind you, Paige 💙 pic.twitter.com/ecVLeWwqYZ
— UConn Women’s Basketball (@UConnWBB) December 7, 2021
Bueckers got hurt in the final minute of a 73-54 win over Notre Dame. While dribbling the ball near the middle of the court, Bueckers' left leg bent awkwardly when she planted it on the ground. She stumbled momentarily, then got up and tried to continue the possession before falling to the ground again.
Prayers up for Paige Bueckers 🙏 pic.twitter.com/Y1Yg9DZeC4
— BetOnline.ag (@betonline_ag) December 5, 2021
Her teammates immediately surrounded her on the court and eventually carried her off to the sideline, then she was helped to the locker room by two UConn assistants. Head coach Geno Auriemma said after the game that the best-case scenario would be a hyperextended knee, but they wouldn't know until the swelling went down and Bueckers could get an MRI.
Since Bueckers' injury, Auriemma has taken heat for keeping her in the game when UConn had a comfortable lead. He admitted on Sunday that he didn't have a good answer, but that Bueckers loves to play and is miserable when she's not on the floor.
"She never wants to come out," Auriemma said, per The Athletic's Charlotte Carroll. "She's a pain in the ass to have on the bench 'cause all she does is complain about why she's not playing. And we've made a concerted effort in the last three or four games to get her some rest during the game.
"You're right. I don't have an answer for why she was in the game. I mean, that could happen at any time. ... I don't like our team without her on the court."
Auriemma: Bueckers' health and career are first priority
Auriemma released a statement along with the announcement, saying that he's focused on Bueckers' recovery and not her return to the team.
"Obviously, we're all extremely disappointed for Paige and that she suffered this injury. It would be really hard to describe how much basketball means to Paige and how much her teammates mean to her. Her not being able to do the thing that she loves to do, to be there for her teammates, is really difficult for her. We've had players get injured in the past and my philosophy here is, I'm not interested in how fast we can get someone back; I'm interested in what's best for them long term. Every decision made will prioritize what's best for Paige and her career. Everyone involved in this program will be there to support Paige through her healing process."
UConn's women's team is currently ranked No. 3 in the country by the Associated Press. Its next game is Thursday against unranked Georgia Tech.