Paige Bueckers ACL injury was hard to swallow for multiple reasons. First, she seems to be a great kid that loves the game more than most. Watching a kid like this go through another injury is hard on Husky Nation and just hard as a human watching another suffer. Second, the guard depth was already lacking, so Bueckers injury was going to be hard to overcome from a numbers stand point. Good news surfaced as Geno Auriemma announced the addition of Portugal’s Ines Bettencourt, whose addition is huge for a Huskies team that should still be considered for the short list of champion hopefuls.
Bettencourt will join Nika Muhl as the only true point guard on the roster. In fact, Bettencourt’s game reminds me a lot of Muhl’s game before Nika came to Storrs. The amount of game footage on both players is scarce, but the film shows both players to be slashing guards that have a flair for dramatic passes. Both players seem to feast in the passing lanes and like physicality on the defensive end. Bettencourt appears to be the better outside shooter, but Muhl seems to be the more physical driver.
It will be interesting to see if Bettencourt’s current game translates to the United States. The game is called a lot tighter here than in other countries, see the struggles of Aaliyah Edwards and Nika Muhl to avoid fouls. Hopefully, she adjusts well because she records almost five steals a game, which would help jump start the feared UConn transition game. At worst, Ines should have a defensive impact on the game much like Muhl does, and at best, she could become a game changer on the defensive end.
Her offensive skill set also has questions on how well it will translate. She can be a streaky shooter despite shooting almost 42% from deep in the U18 FIBA Euro Championships. Her form is consistent, but she does have a tendency to lean her upper body into her shot. There are some very good shooters that have a similar shot, but this form can also lead to seeing contact on the ball during a shot than a true pro-style shooting form. The key is that she is consistent in her shot, so she should project at worst as a microwave spot up shooter and at best a deadly shooter off the screens, which she has shown that she can hit with consistency. The more concerning part of her offensive game is that she relies on a lot of spin moves and other moves to get separation. It is hard to tell, due to limited footage, if she was being defended by very quick, very solid defenders or if she lacks great quickness. Only time will tell, but regardless, she has a sneakiness to her game, including a nasty head fake hesi, that allows her to get dribble penetration.
Offensively, she should take well to Geno’s system. Geno runs a more Euro style offensive predicated on ball movement and cutting. In this, Ines should acclimate quicker to the offense than a lot of high school recruits. The biggest question that really arises about fit and readiness is that she was flipped from her original commitment from a junior college. There are a couple of possible scenarios that could have led to a junior college commitment. First, she could not have the grades/test scores to enter a four year institution. This does not seem likely as UConn is a respectable school that only accepts 56% of applicants, according to US News. Grades don’t seem to be an issue. Second, junior college could be the right fit based on her skill set. While this is possible, it seems more likely that the third possibility is more likely. The final possibility is that she was under recruited. There are a ton of talented JUCO players that fall through the recruiting cracks or did not get a desirable offer; add in the fact that it is a lot harder to recruit overseas and it is most likely that Ines wanted to come to the States and was an unknown entity.
While only time will tell how much of a role Ines plays on the team, there are a couple of certainties. First, the Huskies add much needed depth in a hard nosed defender that has the possibility of spacing the floor. Second, they add another ball handler that should fit the offense. Third, the girls will get a chance to learn a new set of swear words.