Two-time reigning AAC Player of the Year Katie Lou Samuelson said she is practicing in full six months after surgery on her left ankle repaired shredded ligaments and a torn tendon.
“I feel better than I’ve ever felt when it comes to my ankle,” Samuelson said. “I don’t feel like I’m going to roll it every time I take a step. I feel good and I’m excited with where I’m at.”
Samuelson was named the AAC preseason Player of the Year for the first time during the AAC media day. In 32 games as a junior, she averaged 17.4 points and career-highs of 4.5 rebounds and 3.8 assists. She had surgery on April 12 after playing with the bad ankle much of the year.
“I thought it can’t be too bad because I played on it,” Samuelson said. “I knew it was bad but it was tough to accept it would take a full five, six months to get back.
“Getting back in shape was harder mentally for me. It was just pushing through when I thought I couldn’t go anymore. The last month was tough because you feel like you’re back and you just suck at everything.”
As much as she has a sense of urgency to regain her All-American form, she’s staying patient with as many as a 38-game schedule ahead of her this winter.
“It was hard to balance that,” Samuelson said. “I wanted to be out there. I didn’t play a full day of pickup until a week before practice started. That made me anxious because I didn’t think I’d be where I needed to be. But I’ve felt good at practice and I’m moving forward.”
Volunteer state of mind
Crystal Dangerfield saw the tweet from the UConn women’s basketball account on Aug. 14 of “Hey Lady Vol Hoop” with a waving hand and knew something big was up.
UConn and Tennessee will play their first regular season game since 2007 when they start a home-and-home series in Connecticut in January 2020.
“I just laughed at it,” Dangerfield said. “It’s exciting and I think it will be great for the game. It’s going to be fun to have it back and the former players are really excited about it.”
Dangerfield, from Murfreesboro, became the first native of the Volunteer State to commit to UConn four years ago. Her teammate at Blackman High, Meme Jackson, is a senior at Tennessee this season so they will not face each other next season.
The Huskies’ junior point guard grew up watching the Lady Vols.
“There was a point in time that I thought I would end up at Tennessee and not at Connecticut,” Dangerfield said. “I won’t be here for when we play in Knoxville, but that will be fun, too.”
UConn will visit Thompson-Boling Arena during the 2020-21 season, the year after Dangerfield graduates. She would have enjoyed the opportunity to do it, however.
“I’d probably catch a few boos, some boos, maybe more,” Dangerfield said with a laugh.