The decision was not an easy one to make for Morgan Tuck. It was clear that the Huskies were headed towards greatness this past season. It was clear that Tuck wanted to be a contributor on the court.
Instead, after missing 12 of the first 20 games due to problems with her right knee, Tuck opted to undergo season-ending surgery Jan. 30. Now nearly five months after the procedure, she has no doubt that it was the right decision.
“Right now my knee’s felt the best it has in a really long time,’’ Tuck said. “It sucked to sit out and miss the majority of the season. I think that was the hardest decision because I didn’t want to miss that, but I think in the end it was worth it. The team was still able to (win the national championship). Something that’s nice to think about as well is we still didn’t lose whether I played or not. So I think it was the right decision because now I can try to get a full season. I haven’t played a full season without being out. So hopefully I can stay healthy and get a full season.’’
Said UConn coach Geno Auriemma: “She’s good. She’s working hard. She’s had a great postseason. She looks great.’’
Had Tuck, who initially underwent arthroscopic surgery to stabilize cartilage in her knee Nov. 12, waited to have surgery after the season ended with a win over Notre Dame in the NCAA national championship game April 8 in Nashville her readiness for the official start of practice in October would have been in jeopardy.
However, she said today at Geno’s Fore The Kids charity golf tournament at The Hartford Golf Club in West Hartford that she hopes to be cleared for full activity at the end of July. She began running on a treadmill last week.
“I always wish it could go faster,’’ Tuck said. “I think anyone that’s out does. But I’m happy about where I am and (team athletic trainer Rosemary Ragle’s) telling me I’m right on track. The rest of the team’s not going to be here (in late July) so I don’t know who I’m going to scrimmage against. But I want to be able to be cleared by then. That’s my personal (goal). But who knows? It’s up to Rosie.
“Recently, I’ve been able to start running with my full bodyweight. To me that was really exciting because I hadn’t run in four months. Right now that’s what I’m trying to do is build up the amount of running I can do each day. I can shoot around and stuff. I can’t do any like cutting or … I can do jump shots and stuff like that. But I can’t do anything too crazy. I’m not sprinting yet.’’
Sprinting, being able to participate in a full conditioning workout and taking part in more jumping and cutting exercises are the next steps for Tuck on her road back.
“I’m just really excited to be able to do what everyone else is doing and then to be able to try to solidify a spot on the team,’’ Tuck said. “I think I’ll definitely be back before the season starts. I wanted to make sure that I could do the full preseason and not have to worry about my knee hurting or if I have rehab or something like that. So I should definitely be good by the fall.’’
Tuck, who is expected to have three years of eligibility remaining once she is granted a medical hardship waiver, averaged 7.5 points and 2.4 rebounds in 14.5 minutes in eight games this past season. She has missed 36 of a possible 79 games due to knee related issues in her career.
Her teammates have utmost confident that Tuck will make a strong return.
“I’m definitely excited about how Morgan’s going to come back,’’ All-American Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis said. “I know she’s going to come back confident. And right now she’s working really hard. She’s progressing just the way we thought she would and I’m not worried about how she’s going to come back or if she’s going to be the same Morgan Tuck. I think she’s going to come back great.’’
Said Moriah Jefferson: “Morgan was out for a long time so that’s not going to just come back overnight. But it’s good to see her running. And she’s always committed. She’s always focused even when she’s not playing we always hear Morgan’s voice in the back telling us, `Keep pushing.’ Morgan’s going to be fine. She’s going to make a comeback and she’ll be just like she was when she left.’’