It wasn’t one of the most compelling games you will ever see. But Louisville has always managed to give UConn all it can handle. And if Tuesday was the last regular-season game played between the teams – the Cardinals could be allowed to jump to ACC by next season – it’s been a fun ride.
But most of the news from UConn’s 72-58 win had to do with injuries, one resolved, the other still a work in progress. And its about time someone tipped a hat to Huskies team trainer Rosemary Ragle, who has been in the middle of it all.
Breanna Stewart did not play for the second straight game because of her sprained left ankle, suffered when she landed on Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis’ ankle last Friday in practice.
Stewart had the ankle braced and did warmup. And Geno Auriemma said after the game that had an emergency developed she could have played. But the only emergency was the snowfall outside. And there was nothing Stewie could do to help that.
The good news is that Auriemma expects her to be able to play Saturday at the XL Center against Syracuse.
“I think she’s come along a lot faster than we initially thought when she first got hurt,’’ Auriemma said. “Dr. (Tom) Trojian said that she might not be able to play until Monday [Duke], unless [athletic trainer] Rosemary [Ragle] can do what she normally does and fix these guys a lot sooner than everybody thinks. And I think that’s what’s happened. She looks good.
“So I’m expecting her fully to be ready to go on Saturday. But she’ll screw up our rotation so I might not play her anyway.’’
The return of Stewart will mean the No. 3 Huskies will regain their top rebounder and a great scorer.
The resolved issue has to do with Bria Hartley.
Hartley’s left ankle has been a problem since the summer when she severely sprained it playing for USA Basketball in Greece. The injury forced her to miss the first two games of the season and had something of a lasting impact all season.
Then in the opening minutes against Marquette Saturday, Hartley aggravated the ankle and played only five minutes. But once again, Ragle got her ready quickly and Bria played 33 minutes on Tuesday. She didn’t shoot particularly well (6 of 15, 3 of 11), but she was moving fine and scored 16 points, her most since getting 21 against Oakland on Dec. 19. She also had a season-high seven rebounds.
“If you stand around it kind of gets stiff so it was better that I was out there running around,” Hartley said. “I did a good job during the warmup getting myself ready.”
Ragle, UConn’s longtime athletic trainer, has been one of UConn’s MVPs this season. She has done a remarkable job helping to rehabilitate the Huskies’ injured players.
“Right after I got hurt at Marquette she [Ragle] made sure it didn’t swell up so actually had me ice the ankle two or three times,” Hartley said. “She did a lot of mobility things for the ankle so that it could get used to that function again. She had me on the treadmill and elliptical n practice on Monday. It’s all designed to get you moving. It’s all about how much pain you can tolerate. If whatever you are doing doesn’t bother you, you just try to do a little bit more.”