STORRS -- UConn women's basketball senior Katie Lou Samuelson will return for the NCAA Tournament after missing the previous four games due to a back injury suffered on Senior Day on March 2.
"I'm ready to go. I'm excited to get playing again," Samuelson announced.
While Samuelson admitted she isn't back to 100 percent just yet, she will be once the Huskies tip-off in the first round against 15-seed Towson on Friday.
"I'm getting better each day. I've been doing a little more each day since we've been practicing," she said. "I know that I'm going to play this weekend and that's all that matters."
"If I tell coach I'm good, he's going to trust me and he's going to let me do what I need to do."
Head coach Geno Auriemma said Samuelson is around 95 percent in terms of shooting but still only moving around at 75 percent. But when the idea of resting the senior for the opening game against an opponent UConn will likely beat easily was broached to Auriemma, he quickly shot the idea down.
"Lou would strangle me if I tried to do that," he laughed.
As long as the back doesn't continue to be an issue into the NCAA Tournament, Samuelson's injury was likely a benefit to the Huskies. In three games during the AAC Tournament, freshman Olivia Nelson-Ododa emerged as an elite post defender and rebounder while also showing flashes of her abilities on offense. Mikayla Coombs, meanwhile, was disruptive with her defense off the bench.
"I think the way we responded as a team, we went out and took care of business," Samuelson said. "We got contributions from Olivia and Mikayla off the bench and I think that's really key for us going forward."
Without the injury, it's possible neither plays get the minutes needed to have the type of breakout each had, respectively. Now, the hope is they can be viable contributors for UConn once the NCAA Tournament begins.