Geno Auriemma admitted on his coaches radio show on Monday that he was not too optimistic that his UConn women's basketball team would be playing its game at Villanova on Friday.
He was right.
The Big East announced Tuesday that the Huskies’ conference game against the Wildcats scheduled for Friday at Villanova's Finneran Pavilion has been canceled due to COVID issues within the UConn program. Per the Big East game cancellation policy, the conference office will attempt to reschedule the game in accordance with the parameters of the policy.
It’s the fourth consecutive conference game the Huskies (6-3, 1-0 Big East) have had called off. The Dec. 29 game with Marquette at the XL Center in Hartford was canceled due to COVID issues in the Golden Eagles’ program. The Dec. 1 game against DePaul at Wintrust Arena in Chicago was canceled due to COVID issues in UConn’s program as was Wednesday's scheduled game at Georgetown.
UConn has not played since its 69-64 loss to Louisville in the Basketball Hall of Fame Women’s Showcase at Mohegan Sun Arena on Dec. 19.
"We have to see if between now and Friday if someone can be ready to go," Auriemma told Bob Joyce on ESPN97.9 Monday. "But the problem you run into is if someone comes off the protocols they need five days to practice before they’re going to be able to play. So it doesn’t give you much time between today and Friday."
The Huskies need seven players to be available for a game to go forward. Four players on their 12-player roster are injured and are unavailable.
"Throw in a couple COVID cases and, before you know it, you’re looking at five, six players," Auriemma said.
UConn had hoped that sophomore Nika Muhl (foot) and freshman Azzi Fudd (foot) would be available when they returned from Christmas break. But the two guards, as well as junior forward Aubrey Griffin (back), would not have been available for any of the canceled games.
And reigning national Player of the Year Paige Bueckers is out until at least February following surgery three weeks ago to repair a tibial plateau fracture and lateral meniscus tear in her left knee.
The Huskies’ next scheduled game is Sunday against Creighton at Gampel Pavilion.
The Big East will try to reschedule the canceled games. But with three non-league games - at Oregon Jan. 17, at South Carolina Jan. 27, and home with Tennessee on Feb. 6 - it may be tough to fit in the called off games. UConn has played only one of its scheduled 20 Big East games.
Five Big East teams - UConn, Marquette, Georgetown, Providence, and Butler - have had COVID issues since returning from the Christmas holiday.