Morgan Tuck would love to be joining University of Connecticut teammates Breanna Stewart and Moriah Jefferson in Colorado Springs this week for the start of the United States Pan-American Games team's training camp.
The Huskies' redshirt junior forward has won four gold medals alongside Stewart and two with Jefferson in her USA Basketball career.
But Tuck turned down an invitation to try out for the Pan-Am and World University Games teams in order to give her surgically-repaired right knee a break after a long and successful season with UConn ended with the program's third straight national championship. Instead, the Bolingbrook, Illinois, native is going to have a real summer vacation at her family's new home in Virginia and she's excited for it.
"I talked to the coaches and talked to my parents and we decided that the best thing to do was rest and not have any excess pounding," Tuck said. "I really did want to play USA Basketball because this is the first time I haven't done it by my decision. It's good to relax and enjoy the summer.
"It's very different. I don't remember the last time I was home for two months straight."
After being limited to eight games in 2013-14 and having season-ending surgery on her right knee, Tuck rebounded by averaging 14.4 points on 59.6 percent shooting from the floor, 5.5 rebounds, and 2.9 assists. She was named to the all-American Athletic Conference first team. She was also selected to the all-tournament teams team at the AAC tournament, the NCAA Albany Regional, and the Final Four.
UConn (38-1) won 37 straight games after she was inserted into the starting lineup.
Through 39 games and 995 minutes played, the knee held up.
"I thought my knee was going to be fine, but you never really know what to expect coming out of a surgery," Tuck said. "I was excited. What made it exceed my expectations is because of how well we did as a team.
"It would get sore and that was expected. But I saw the doctor after the season and he said how I did was great. It felt good while I was playing and being sore afterwards is a part of playing. With the cartilage in there, it's never my original cartilage again, but it held up. This was my first full season since I've been here and I was able to stay healthy and it went well."
Tuck spent the first summer session in Storrs and did an internship with Jefferson with Husky Sport, which works with the sports management department at UConn (though neither are sports management majors). They would go to schools in Hartford and help the teachers out and then do after-school programs with the kids there a couple of days per week.
And, of course, she took part in pick-up games and individual workouts with her teammates.
"It feels good just going out there because this is the first year I've been here that I don't have any (health) issues," Tuck said. "I can just play basketball."
And she wants to be better than ever at it.
"I need to improve on my perimeter skills," Tuck said. "Gabby Williams and I have been working together on coming off ball screens, pull ups and things like that, just making sure that we're more comfortable with the ball when we're not in the lane.
"I expect to do what I did last year and even more. I don't want to just repeat last year. I want to improve and make sure I'm contributing even more. I think it's important having that leadership role from the get-go, starting from the summer and making sure that we're all on the right page and going in the right direction."
Cal's Franklin wins Honda CupUniversity of California sophomore swimmer Missy Franklin was awarded the 2015 Honda Cup as the nation's top female college athlete Monday night in Los Angeles.
Franklin, a four-time gold medalist at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, was the national Swimmer of the Year for the national champion Bears and established a school record for most combined individual and relay crowns at one NCAA meet with five titles this season. She is a 14-time All-American in her career.
The other finalists were UConn's Stewart -- the consensus Player of the Year and the first woman to be named the NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player three times after leading the Huskies to their 10th national championship -- and Florida's Lauren Haeger, the softball Player of the Year and Women's College World Series MOP who has led the Gators to back-to-back NCAA titles.