Fudd enjoyed NBA Finals experience

·5 min read

Jun. 22—WEST HARTFORD — Azzi Fudd has a history with Steph Curry. The UConn women's basketball team's sophomore guard won a 3-point shooting contest at the Golden State Warriors star's camp in 2018 and in December signed an NIL contract with Curry's brand, SC30 Inc.

So it was no surprise a week ago while attending Game 6 of the NBA Finals at TD Garden that she was rooting for Curry and the Warriors over the Boston Celtics. She admitted, though, that she curbed her enthusiasm a bit as Golden State captured its fourth NBA title in eight seasons in front of a partisan Celtics' crowd.

"I tried not to be too loud about it," Fudd said with a laugh Tuesday while attending UConn coach Geno Auriemma's Fore the Kids Charity Golf tournament at Hartford Golf Club. "I've heard Boston can be tough."

Fudd, who was joined by teammates Paige Bueckers and (Celtics' fan) Caroline Ducharme at Game 6, did not get onto the floor for the celebration though she did get to congratulate some players, including Curry, who came over to where they were sitting.

Curry was named the Finals' Most Valuable Player as Golden State won the last three games, two in Boston, to take the series.

"I think he's an amazing player, but his leadership on that team is everything," Fudd said. "He kind of talked to me and Paige about it after one of the games. Draymond Green usually riles them up and gives them their energy. Draymond was down that one game (Game 4) and he had to pick up that role where Draymond left off. Like the game (Game 5) where he didn't score well and Andrew Wiggins picked up."

"I think that carries over to our team, as well. If I don't play as well or Paige doesn't play as well, Caroline and other people step up. We have other teammates who we can count on to carry us through. It is not all on one person. That is the biggest thing with our team. We can all build off each other."

Fudd added that watching the Warriors celebrate did sting a bit because it reminded her that the Huskies' fell one win short of their goal as they were beaten by South Carolina 64-49 in the national championship game April 3 in Minneapolis.

"It was kind of like a reminder adding fuel to the fire of how we want to come back next year," Fudd said.

Bueckers agreed.

"Seeing how happy those guys were and how much relief they had when they won, you could tell how much hard work they put into it," she said. "That's the position I want to be in and that this team wants to be in, having that overwhelming feeling of being a champion."

Bueckers has already begun work on a project for next season — getting Curry, Green, and Klay Thompson to come to a UConn game.

Of course, that depends on schedules that have not been released.

"They argued that Storrs was pretty hard to get into but I'm sure they can find a way," Bueckers said. "I told those guys I wanted them to get to a game for sure."

Good as gold

UConn freshman Ice Brady is expected to join her teammates in Storrs for the remainder of the summer session this week after helping Team USA to a gold medal at the FIBA U-18 Americas Championships in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

"I am so excited for her to come soon," Fudd said. "I hope she really enjoyed her time there. Winning (with USA Basketball) is an incredible experience. That experience will help her prepare a little for what is to come here. I'm not sure there is anything that can prepare you for the CD (associate head coach Chris Dailey) workouts she's about to get, but I know for sure she's coming in with a great mentality."

Brady averaged 13.0 points on 65.5 percent shooting from the floor and 7.5 rebounds in 23.3 minutes over six games for Team USA (6-0). She ranked first in field-goal percentage and tied for fourth in points and tied for sixth in rebounds in the tournament. She had eight points and tied a USA record for the event with 15 rebounds in an 82-77 win over Canada in Sunday's final.

The 6-foot-3 forward from San Diego is the 17th player to win U-18 gold before moving on to UConn.

"I think USA Basketball is a lot like UConn," Bueckers said. "It's a bunch of great players coming together with a single purpose of winning a gold medal for them and winning a national championship for us. There is a lot of sacrifice and a lot you have to hone in. Everybody has to be aware of their roles. That is something USA Basketball has taught me is how to play with other great players.

"Having her have that great experience before coming here is going to be great for us."

Husky bites

UConn forward Dorka Juhász was not wearing a brace on her surgically-repaired left wrist Tuesday. She hurt it in the Bridgeport Regional final against North Carolina State. Her next doctor's appointment is July 5. "I have a good feeling he is going to clear me," Juhász said. ... Fudd and junior guard Nika Mühl said they have tried not to over-do things during the summer session as they come off right foot injuries. Fudd missed 11 games while Mühl missed three games and had issues much of the season. ... Bueckers said she will stay in Storrs after the end of the first summer session and will be spending time in the weight room. "I'm getting stronger. I'm getting bigger. I'm getting quicker, and I'm sharpening my skills as a basketball player," she said.

For coverage of all sports in the JI's 18-town coverage area, plus updates on the UConn women's basketball team and head coach Geno Auriemma, follow Carl Adamec on Twitter: @CarlAdamec, Facebook: Carl Adamec, and Instagram: @CarlAdamec.