UConn’s Paige Bueckers seems to be getting bigger and stronger this summer

Buckers still led UConn in points per game (14.6) and second in minutes (29.2) while playing in 17 of the team’s 36 total games, putting the Huskies on their way to another Final Four -appearance gave a spark.

But the guard struggled through a physically demanding stretch as she returned from a tibial plateau fracture and a torn meniscus. As the focal point of UConn, she drew a lot of attention from opponents – often by pushing and thrusting.

Against this background, coach Geno Auriemma wants Bückers to focus on himself this summer. While other players are likely to return home in July and August, he asked his star student to stay back and work on building her strength to withstand the physical challenges of a long season.

“Different players have different goals this summer, and their goal is to get a little bit bigger and a little bit stronger,” he said Thursday during the team’s first media availability since April. “Paige has a busy summer ahead of her. Plus all the other stuff, you know. I said, ‘Paige, you do a lot for a lot of people. Think it’s time to do a lot of things for yourself. ”

Auriemma compared Buckers to UConn greats Maya Moore and Breanna Stewart. Due to their dominance on the ground, they are often the target of increased physicality from opponents. Two of the sport’s best players, Moore and Stewart have learned to deal with the physical demands of being the focus of the team — at both UConn and the WNBA.

Buckers faces the same problem in college.

“If you watch us play, no one gets fouled more than them (Bückers),” he said. “No one gets knocked off their cuts, no one gets hit anymore. And like every other good player we’ve had or probably have, most officials say, ‘Well, she can handle it.’

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