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UConn Women’s Basketball 2021-22 Season Review: Frontcourt

UConn women’s basketball once again had one of the best defensive teams in the nation for the 2021-22 season, holding opponents to less than 80 points per 100 possessions (8th in the nation). The Huskies’ frontcourt has played a vital role in the teams’ success on the defensive end.

The punchline: UConn’s efficiency at the position helped carry the offense throughout the season. The Huskies scored 1.17 points per play on post-ups this season by Synergy, which ranked in the top three percent in the county, and 1.28 points per play around the basket, good for second-best from the country. Still, injuries have hampered UConn’s frontcourt ability to capitalize on the depth it should have had this season.

Olivia Nelson Ododa: Nelson-Ododa was once again in the heart of UConn’s frontcourt and easily had the best season of his career as a senior. Nelson-Ododa was the defensive anchor for the Huskies, and the team’s net rating was 7.1 points better on the season when on the field than when off. She also had her most efficient scoring season, shooting over 60% on two-point attempts.

What really made Nelson-Ododa stand out this season was the versatility of her post game as the only player in the country this season to average at least 9.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3 .5 assists and 1.5 blocks per game. Although her volume of points and rebounds was not particularly high, her ability to facilitate from the bottom down on the offensive end and disrupt opposing teams’ offensive strategies on the defensive end made her one of the most crucial elements of UConn’s success this season.

Dorka Juhasz: Juhász’s first season with the Huskies had its ups and downs partly due to injuries, but also adjusting to playing in a program like UConn. The two-time All-Big Ten first-team player finished the year averaging 7.3 points and 5.7 rebounds per game.

Towards the end of the season, Juhász began to find her groove and found a clear role in the Huskies’ rotation before being sidelined with a season-ending wrist injury in the Elite Eight. With a year at Storrs under her belt, Juhász should be well prepared for a bigger role in the 2022-23 season.

Aliyah Edwards: Edwards’ second season didn’t get off to the best start. For the first half of the season, she looked nothing like the player she was for UConn towards the end of her freshman year. She lacked the defensive aggression the Huskies got from her in the 2021 playoffs and struggled to finish her shots despite leading the nation in field goal percentage the previous year.

However, something shifted for Edwards in February, just around the time of the DePaul game where she scored 19 points to help the Huskies avoid back-to-back losses. Edwards finished the season strong, especially in the Big East tournament where she had a case for being the most outstanding player. His defensive presence was particularly impactful, stifling Villanova’s Maddy Siegrist in the Big East Finals, which continued throughout the Huskies’ playoff run.

Amari DeBerry: DeBerry has appeared in just 16 games this season and has averaged just over five minutes in those appearances. While it’s hard to get much out of those limited minutes, including a lot of late-game situations, she showed some flashes that should help the Huskies in the long run. DeBerry had key rebounds in minutes immediately after Paige Bueckers was injured and she held on when her number was called in the national championship game when UConn’s frontcourt depth ran out.

Aubrey Griffin: Griffin hasn’t played this season due to numerous injuries and underwent back surgery in January which ended his campaign for good. If her recovery goes well, she should be back on the pitch for summer training in June.

Look forward: Losing Nelson-Ododa is a tough hole for UConn to fill, but the frontcourt is in good hands with Edwards and Juhász. Griffin’s return from back surgery should give the Huskies more depth on the wing, and Geno Auriemma said DeBerry pledged to improve over the summer in the Final Four. UConn will also add two of the top five rookies, Isuneh Brady and Ayanna Patterson, to the frontcourt for next season.