The UConn Huskies have beaten all eleven opponents they've shared the court with so far this season, as the calendar has turned over and American Conference play is about to ramp up. The Huskies have now won 48 straight games, dating back to last season, and have been led by the country's best player, senior All-American Breanna Stewart.
While Stewart continues to dominate her opponents on the court, one of her teammates has quietly been a large reason why UConn looks poised to once again hoist the National Championship trophy in April.
Junior Morgan Tuck at one point in time may have gotten overlooked by some, but head coach Geno Auriemma says those times are long gone.
"The people that I talk to, (she's) one of the first things they bring up," Auriemma said. "They love Morgan Tuck, and anybody that knows anything about basketball, whether it's college or pro, anybody that watches her play all know how valuable she is."
"Stewie (Stewart) casts such a big shadow that if you're not paying attention maybe, but I think what (Tuck) did last year, everybody knows, at least, they should know, and if they don't, they aren't paying attention."
Tuck's ability to show up night in and night out is something that could easily go without being noticed, especially on a team as loaded as UConn's. Tuck is not a flashy guard, who always has the ball in her hands, but she definitely impacts the game in ways only she can.
"Morgan's just somebody that we can count on everyday, every night," Auriemma said. "She's nothing flashy, nothing spectacular. She just does all the little things that help you win games. The best way I can describe Morgan is, she's not great at anything, but she's good at everything, and she's really good at winning games."
Tuck averaged 14.4 points, 5.5 rebounds and slightly less than three assists in 39 games last season. This season, Tuck has found a way to continue stuffing the stat sheet, averaging 15.4 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.7 assists through her team's first 11 games.
While her numbers may look identical from last season to this season, Tuck says she feels she has improved in other areas that do not necessarily show up in the box score.
"I think mentally I'm at a different level than I was last year," Tuck said. "I think I have a better understanding of what coach wants us to do, and I'm seeing things a little bit differently. I think it's much better than last year."
Tuck has shown this improvement in games this season when the stakes were the highest. The Huskies have played five games so far against ranked opponents: no. 7 Ohio State, no. 23 DePaul, no. 3 Notre Dame, no. 11 Florida State and no. 6 Maryland. In those five games, Tucks' numbers are more reflective of how much she means to this UConn team.
Against ranked opponents this season, Tuck is averaging 17.4 points, 7.6 rebounds and 4.8 assists in 34 minutes per game. She has stayed out of foul trouble in these games as well, never getting more than three fouls in any of these match-ups.
Tuck will look to continue stuffing the stat sheet as American Conference play begins to pick up for the Huskies. So next time you find yourself watching a UConn game, keep one on eye on Tuck, because you just never know how she will effortlessly impact the game this time. And if you blink, you might just miss your chance to catch a glimpse of a different kind of greatness.