Nika Mühl Coming Alive at the Perfect Time for the UConn Huskies
If you do not know the same Nika Mühl, you will in March during the NCAA Tournament. Mühl is a 5’10” freshman guard for the UConn Huskies. The Croatian athlete was said to be a role player at best throughout her career. However, Mühl has cracked Auriemma’s starting lineup because she is one of the country’s grittiest players.
Mühl’s Development at UConn
If you are a sports fan, you know the name Paige Bueckers. Bueckers, who was just named a Naismith Trophy semifinalist as a freshman, has taken the college basketball world by storm at UConn.
Bueckers is a generational talent, but her presence has overshadowed the other young talent in Geno Auriemma’s program. Nika Mühl’s ability is also elite, and she has proven that she will be more than a role player in her time at UConn.
Mühl started the season coming off the bench before making her first start on January 23rd against Georgetown. Mühl did not have a massive statistical game, but she made plays happen for the Huskies.
After her first start, Mühl stated that,
“Starting from the smallest things to the biggest things, I just think I have to continue improving in practice first and then transfer it to games. I’m not satisfied with any of the things that I did in Saturday’s game.”
Auriemma noticed her work ethic, and she made her second start two games later against St. John’s on February 3rd. Since this game, she has started every outing for the Huskies.
Coming into Her Own
Mühl turns the ball over a little too much, but she plays hard. Redshirt Junior Evina Westbrook told the media that Mühl is,
“Super gritty, puts her body on the line at any moment for any play. And to have someone on your team like that that you know is going to give their all, you want people like that on your team. She’s been like that day in and day out. Yes, she’s going to make mistakes. Yes, she’s going to turn the ball over. But when you can substitute that with someone who plays hard all the time, I’ll take that risk.”
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Mühl continued improving every game and stepped up in a big way against Creighton on February 25th. Mühl led the team in minutes, scoring and steals in a night where she dropped 19 points.
She followed up her 19-point performance with nine against Butler two nights later. Mühl could not be playing better for the Huskies heading into the Big East Tournament.
Mühl’s grit has carried her to heights that very few people thought she would reach at UConn. However, the Croatian native has already become a starter as a freshman in the nation’s best program.
Mühl is a testament to the mindset that hard work pays off.
If you are a UConn fan, you should be very excited about March because UConn is the favorite to win the National Championship. I know Coach Auriemma would disagree with looking ahead, but it would be shocking if UConn did not win the Big East Tournament.
UConn went undefeated in conference play and only lost once this season without a single senior on its roster. UConn’s typical starting lineup consists of three juniors and two freshmen. Auriemma’s first player in the game is another freshman.
I did not think UConn would be where they are at this point in the season with the young talent, but Buckers and now Mühl have come into their own with even more room for improvement.
2021 is the year that UConn reclaims the National Championship, and a big reason for this will be from Mühl’s gritty play down the stretch.
UConn will open up Big East Tournament play on Saturday night against St. John’s or Xavier at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.
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