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UConn's Morgan Tuck talented but unheralded

UConn’s Morgan Tuck is averaging 14.5 points and 5.6 rebounds after two knee surgeries but received no All-America honors.
UConn’s Morgan Tuck is averaging 14.5 points and 5.6 rebounds after two knee surgeries but received no All-America honors.
Published Apr. 7, 2015

TAMPA — She didn't steer herself south of the All-America pantheon single-handedly.

Other factors, all well beyond Morgan Tuck's control, conspired to navigate Connecticut's 6-foot-2 redshirt sophomore to a point just below the radar of national recognition. There were those two knee surgeries last season, limiting the Illinois native to eight games and lessening her acclaim in the 2014-15 preseason.

There was the fact the Huskies went on to win a national title without her last April. And naturally, there's the matter of Tuck occupying a low post with two-time national player of the year Breanna Stewart.

"Stewie casts a pretty big shadow," UConn coach Geno Auriemma acknowledged.

Allow those points to converge, and you've got what many deem a travesty today: Tuck (14.5 ppg, 5.6 rpg) received neither Associated Press All-America honors (which featured first, second and third teams) nor a spot on the 10-player WBCA Coaches' All-America squad.

"I think people don't give her enough credit," said Notre Dame first-team All-American — and one-time high school rival — Jewell Loyd.

That sentiment was echoed throughout the Amalie Arena corridors Monday, roughly 14 hours after Tuck's de facto clinic in UConn's 81-58 national semifinals romp of Maryland. Those 24 points? Those nine rebounds? Those two 3-pointers during the Huskies' decisive 14-0 run?

Every facet of the performance had the distinct whiff of All-American.

"The fact that she didn't play and we won a national championship and went undefeated (last season), it was like she must not be that vital," Auriemma said.

"But if somebody just came to our practice every day for a month, they would think Tuck was the national player of the year. That's how good she is every day in every area."

On a surgically mended knee, no less.

A two-time Illinois Ms. Basketball (as a freshman and senior at Bolingbrook High), Tuck had arthroscopic right knee surgery in November 2013, with minimal effect.

"It just wasn't healing," Tuck said. "We thought it did; it would kind of heal-and-then-get-worse type of thing, so I was in and out."

Roughly two months after the scope, doctors performed an OATS (osteoarticular transfer system) procedure, in which cartilage was moved from a non-weight-bearing part of the knee to the damaged area. She was granted a medical hardship waiver for 2013-14.

By Game 3 of this season, Tuck was starting, proving to be nearly every bit the matchup nightmare of the 6-foot-4 Stewart. Her soft touch around the rim befits her size. Her ball-handling acumen and long-range skill (19 3-pointers) belies it.

Seven games into her comeback, in a 76-58 early December win at Notre Dame, Tuck had 25 points and nine boards.

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"It's disappointing that the media decides ahead of the season who the best players are gonna be, because I think she is their second-best player," said Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw.

"I thought the game we had with them, she was the best player on the team."

Too late for a recount?

Contact Joey Knight at Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.


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