By Carl Adamec
STORRS, Conn. — There’s a light at the end of the tunnel on the comeback trail for Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Morgan Tuck.
Mosqueda-Lewis (right elbow nerve contusion) learned Monday that she could be cleared to practice with the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team next week while Tuck (right knee arthroscopic surgery) received similar news Tuesday.
They’ll miss their eighth straight game Thursday night when the top-ranked Huskies host UC-Davis at the XL Center in Hartford (7 p.m., SNY). Whether they’ll be available for the game against No. 2 Duke in the Jimmy V Classic at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Dec. 17 remains to be seen.
“I think both of them are almost on a similar timetable,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said after practice at Gampel Pavilion Wednesday. “I was talking to Rosemary (athletic trainer Ragle) today and she’s got her fingers crossed hoping that maybe we can get both of them back at the same time, meaning both able to play at the same time. I don’t know if they will both start practice at the same time, but hopefully we can get both ready to play at the same time.”
Mosqueda-Lewis was injured during the second half of the Nov. 11 game with Stanford. The junior All-American had been wearing a bulky brace on her right arm but that’s been replaced by a small brace that allows her to shoot the ball easier.”
“It feels a lot better and it’s a lot less trouble to shoot with,” Mosqueda-Lewis said. “I’m good.
“Today was the most that I shot, maybe for 30-45 minutes. That’s good for me. Obviously my elbow is going to be a little bit sore but I’ll just have to work through it.”
Mosqueda-Lewis, the nation’s leader in 3-point shooting percentage as a sophomore, said she shot 79 percent during a 10-minute shooting drill.
“Down from usual, but not as bad as I thought I’d be,” Mosqueda-Lewis said with a laugh.
“In the beginning when I first started shooting it was frustrating and not being able to make as many shots as I’m used or not having my elbow feel the way it usually does … I’ve adjusted and gotten used to the fact that it’s not going to be perfect right away.”
Tuck had her surgery on Nov. 12, a day after the sophomore forward had 11 points and four rebounds in the win over Stanford.
“Everyone wants to be out there on the court,” Tuck said. “It’s relieving to know that I’ll soon be back at practice.”
As she sat out down for an interview, Tuck said there was no pain in the knee.
“I haven’t been doing anything too crazy out there yet,” she said with a smile. “I’m sure once I start really getting up and down the floor there will be some discomfort but right now I feel good.
“I don’t know if I feel a big difference,” Tuck added. “They tell me that it’s still healing. I’m trying to get comfortable sprinting, cutting, that kind of thing. I haven’t done it in three weeks so I have to get my comfort level and know my knee is fine the way it is.”
Auriemma is anxious to get the pair back in the swing of things.
“It doesn’t take long to get out of shape,” Auriemma said. “It takes forever to get in shape it seems. Four weeks of them not doing anything no matter how much time you spend on the bike or the treadmill, it doesn’t matter. The sooner we can get them on the court doing court things and basketball things, obviously the better off for them, and the better for everybody.”
Tuck missed four games a year ago as she dealt with a bone bruise in her right knee. Mosqueda-Lewis missed only one game in her first two seasons here.
Mosqueda-Lewis shared a sentiment they have: “I don’t want to be on the bench anymore.”
It may not be much longer.