The learning curve can be daunting at times for freshmen at UConn. In a matter of months, players go from being stars in high school to players simply looking to find their way at the highest level of women’s college basketball.
Morgan Tuck, a versatile 6-foot-2 forward, was no different last season. Not only was she forced to cope with a bone bruise in her right knee that forced her to miss four games and a number of practices, but she battled inconsistency.
Yet, as Tuck prepares to help the U.S. win a gold medal at the FIBA U-19 World Championship in Lithuania July 18-28, she knows that her experience with the Huskies was invaluable.
“It helped me by learning that you really have to earn everything that you get,’’ Tuck said. “Coming from high school you’re used to always … You just get it. You know you’re better than everyone. You know you’re going to start. You know you’re going to play the whole game. And I think at Connecticut it was kind of `you have to do exactly what we tell you. You have to go hard. You have to do the little things to be able to just be on the floor.’ So I think I definitely learned that you have to really earn everything you do and that nothing’s just given to you.’’
Tuck, who will be joined on Team USA by fellow UConn sophomores Breanna Stewart and Moriah Jefferson, averaged 6.4 points, 3.4 rebounds and 15.8 minutes in 35 games (two starts) last season. She reached double figures in scoring in eight games, including a season-high 18 against Idaho in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
Tuck did have her moments when she shined for the Huskies. She generated 11 points and five rebounds against Baylor Feb. 18 and had 11 points, seven rebounds, five assists and three steals in a career-high 34 minutes at Notre Dame in regular season finale March 4.
It was during UConn’s dominating run to an NCAA record-trying eighth national championship when Tuck flashed further signs of the type of impact that she can have on a game, averaging 8.8 points and 3.5 rebounds in 19.7 minutes during the NCAA tournament.
She finished with four points, seven rebounds and two assists in 26 minutes against Notre Dame in the national semifinals and followed with six points and seven rebounds in 18 minutes against Louisville in the national title game.
“I think it just kind of made all the hard work pay off,’’ Tuck said referring to her late-season production. “During the season I was up and down. I think being able to contribute toward the end of the season, especially when it mattered because we had to win games … And for me to go out there and bring anything to the table I was proud of that. But I also take away a lot of the things I need to learn from and that I need to be a bigger contributor next year.’’
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