The world is a different place than what it was the last time the UConn women played on Dec. 6. And the disintegration of the Big East conference has nothing to do with it.
The tragedy that played out Sandy Hook Elementary School is what resonates especially strong among the UConn women’s basketball team.
In the faces of the 20 first-graders killed, the Huskies see mirror images of the little ones who flock to them at autograph sessions and other places where the women players appear in public.
Women’s basketball is a niche sport generally supported by retirees and families with young children, particularly girls who in the women’s players see the embodiment of potential role models and heroes.
And for the Huskies, just like it has been for the rest of the world, the last few days has been about learning how to compartmentalize grief with the responsibilities that come with life.
The No. 2 Huskies (8-0) resume the season Wednesday against Oakland (Mich.) at the XL Center at 7 p.m.
They will do so without two players, freshman Morgan Tuck and sophomore Kiah Stokes. Tuck has a bone bruise in her right knee and Stokes is suffering from a stress fracture in her right shin. Neither player has practiced for a week.
There is no prognosis on the availability of either for Saturday’s game at the University of Hartford.
Oakland will be without its top scorer and rebounder, freshman Olivia Nash, who will miss her third straight game with an undisclosed leg injury that may keep her out for a month.
The Golden Grizzlies have also been without Bethany Watterworth, the preseason Summitt League player of the year. She has missed the entire season, also because of an undisclosed leg injury suffered before the season.
Oakland had tried to replace Watterworth’s 18.7 points per game with Nash (11.8), Annemarie Hamlet (11.2) and Elena Popkey (9.9). Now that has changed, as well.