Freshman center Heather Buck, who was a two-time Gatorade Player of the Year in Connecticut, sat out the game and may miss a significant amount of time due to illness. Auriemma said Buck began feeling symptoms two days ago and will be re-tested to see if she has mono, strep or something else.
“It could be a week, it could be two weeks, it could three weeks, it could be six weeks,” he said. “I have no idea it’s going to be.”
Losing Buck, even for one game cuts deeply into already shallow depth in the post. Besides Charles and Kaili McLaren, Auriemma said playing Moore at power forward or moving Greene in from the wing are options, as is using Meghan Gardler and Tahirah Williams to fill the void off the bench.
This is a double-edged sword. You look at the schedule and see Georgia Tech, San Diego State, Rhode Island and a visit to BYU in the next two weeks. Provided Buck is practicing and available by the 30th against Oklahoma and Courtney Paris, it may give the Huskies a chance to become even more flexible then they already are.
In essence, it becomes good practice for future matchups or if someone else were to fall to injury.
The down side is there's no chance for the team to get used to its conventional roles if people are moving all over. Right now, the Huskies are playing with an eight-woman rotation. It's the five starters (Charles, Moore, Montgomery, Doty and Greene) plus Hayes, Dixon and McLaren. IF Charles or McLaren get into foul trouble -- see Oklahoma game -- that's when you might see Moore or Greene or even Gardler and Williams, who both looked decent tonight, log heavy minutes.
Right now, I would be more comfortable giving those minutes to Gardler if rebounding and toughness is what you need. She can eat up minutes, fouls and grab some boards and sometimes find the bottom of the basket. If you need more of an energy boost, someone who can move about, then Williams should go in. Tonight she was active on the court and was fearless in driving the lane and drawing fouls.
This could be a blessing. If both Gardler and Williams -- or just one -- get a bump in minutes and produce, the Huskies' bench grows deeper. After last season, we all know how important that would be.