UConn Women’s Basketball needs to do some serious crisis management when it comes to their relentless series of injuries.
So far this season 5/13 players are out with serious injuries.
Not fixing this is hurting their chances of winning another national title and it’s very off-putting to prospective athletes as well as their fan base.
It is also affecting one of their star-players decision of whether or not to stay with the team another year or move to the WNBA draft.
Bueckers explained her decision to stay another year may hinge on her teammates recoveries.
Bueckers ALSO recently recovered from an ACL tear after red shirting last year.
Head coach Gino Auriemma told the Hartford Courant:
“I don’t know what it is, what’s going on, but right now we’re in a bad cycle and I think the kids are just kind of gutted out by all this,” Auriemma said postgame. “… I mean what are you going to say? At this point, I don’t have any words for that.”
When UConn announced that Ayanna Patterson would not be playing the rest of the season he made it clear that UConn’s program had nothing to do with her injury:
Ayanna’s been dealing with patellar tendonitis since high school. She’s been rehabbing and undergoing treatments and decided with our medical staff that it was time to take care of the issue. We’ll support Yanna through her rehab process and we anticipate she’ll make a full recovery. We look forward to having her back with the team on the court.
While this may be true, it strikes a very insensitive tone in a time when many are questioning UConn’s program.
If I were doing UConn WBB’s crisis comms, I’d make some serious adjustments to what they’ve done so far:
1∙ Get Geno on script immediately with certainty: No one [parents, players, recruits the media] wants to hear the words “I don’t know what’s going on.”
2∙ Make impressive hires: hire the best strength + conditioning coaches money can buy. Make their hiring very very public and an integral part of the program moving forward.
3∙ Restore trust in the athletic department: issue a statement that they are taking the matter very seriously. ACL injuries can be career ending and life altering. Ignoring things won’t make them go away.
4∙ Emphasize recovery: work publicly with injured athletes to show future recruits that if you DO get injured at UConn, the program will support you and shepherd you to a strong and robust recovery.
5∙ Turn the negative into a positive: Use this challenging time to build the best women’s basketball strength and conditioning program in the country. Announce this publicly as part of your statement:
“In an effort to better prepare our athletes for competing at the highest levels in women’s basketball in the world, we are greatly expanding our strength + conditioning program to ensure our athletes are receiving the best training possible. We’ve hired XXXXX and XXXX to greatly expand our program to ensure UConn is the best school in the nation to equip athletes for competition.”
Ignoring this situation won’t make it go away – it’s time for UConn to start making some serious changes to protect their reputation and their athletes.