Anna Makurat is a 20-year-old sophomore for the UConn womenâ€™s basketball team.
But if the Huskies are to be at their best, the Sierakowice, Poland, native canâ€™t play young.
â€śI just want to be confident and comfortable on the court,â€ť Makurat said on a Zoom call Wednesday. â€śWe have a lot of younger guys now so I hope the experiences from last year will help me to be mature on the court, do the right things, and help the team win.â€ť
Six of the 11 Huskies on the 2020-21 roster are freshmen, marking the first time in 32 years that freshman make up a majority of the team.
UConn held its first official practice at the Werth Champions Center on Wednesday. Itâ€™s expected the Huskies will open the season at the Hall of Fame Challenge Nov. 28-29 at Mohegan Sun Arena.
â€śItâ€™s so good to be back, especially when you finally know that youâ€™re closer to the season and the season is going to start and you have games to play in a month,â€ť Makurat said. â€śThereâ€™s a little more of a sense of urgency. We need to do things better. We need to get better as a team. We have something to prepare for and thatâ€™s a good feeling.â€ť
Makurat is feeling good with a year in America and Storrs under her belt.
After a slow start, the 6-foot-2 guard averaged 7.9 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 3.3 assists over 32 games as a freshman for the Huskies, who finished 29-3 and won the American Athletic Conference regular season and tournament titles before the COVID-19 pandemic caused the NCAA Tournament to be canceled.
She ranked 12th in the AAC in assists, fourth in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.8), and third in 3-point shooting (41.0 percent). She shot 45.6 percent from behind the arc over her final 27 games after starting the year 2-for-19. She was a unanimous selection to the AAC all-freshman team.
Spending much of the spring and a part of the summer at home allowed her to get into better shape and that will only help.
â€śI know what to expect,â€ť Makurat said. â€śI know what the practices are like, I know how to get ready and prepare my body so I can spend more time on the court.â€ť
The Huskies have been on campus since late July and have worked out individually and in pods while on campus.
Wednesday was the first practce together in the new normal of a pandemic world.
â€śRight now itâ€™s pretty normal for us because we can practice and we do school like usual,â€ť Makurat said. â€śAll of my classes are online, but we have study halls and itâ€™s similar to what we did in the past. The quarantine and working in pods were different, but itâ€™s getting back to normal.â€ť
What will be new for Makurat at UCoinn is being a leader. Sheâ€™ll do what she can so the freshmen, rated the No. 2 recruiting class nationally behind Oregonâ€™s, can be successful.
That would lead to team success.
â€śItâ€™s a great group, super-competitive,â€ť Makurat said. â€śThey give us so much energy and they have this fighting spirit that theyâ€™ll fight for every loose ball and on every possession. Iâ€™m so excited to play with them.â€ť