women’s basketball Coombs watching her progress
WEST HARTFORD — Mikayla Coombs’ freshman season at UConn came to an abrupt end when doctors discovered a blood clot in her leg.
Since then, Coombs has used many different avenues to pass the time. She’s lifted weights, practiced her shot and watched a lot of Netflix. A real lot of Netflix.
“I’m an avid Netflix watcher,” Coombs said Monday. “I watch a lot of Netflix. … I pretty much watch everything on Netflix. I watched Riverdale. I also watched Grey’s (Anatomy) but I couldn’t get into it. It was way too dramatic for me, so I’m actually on the lookout for a new Netflix show right now.”
The condition known as deep vein thrombosis robbed Coombs of the chance to play deeper into the postseason. She was forced to shut it down after the Huskies’ American Athletic Conference semifinal win over Cincinnati, thus ending a season that saw the freshman guard average just 1.1 points and 0.8 rebounds.
Although the numbers didn’t show it, Coombs, a McDonald’s All-American coming out of Georgia, felt right before the diagnosis as if everything — from her on-the-court performance to her grasp of the mental side of the sport — had started to click. That made having to table basketball all the more frustrating for the 5-foot-8 guard.
“I finally felt like things were starting to come together, just adjusting,” she said. “There were still some struggle points, but, just adjusting as a freshman … and being around the coaches all the time and hearing what I needed to adjust, I think it helped me grow as a basketball player.”
Coombs still has not been cleared for contact, with a murky timetable as to when that might change. Nevertheless, she remains optimistic about her growth on the court. She’s used her downtime to get stronger in the weight room and refine her shooting stroke — a part of her game she admits needs improvement.
When asked to clarify her timetable, Coombs said this: “Definitely before the season, but I don’t know. It’s just one of those things where we have to watch for precautionary measures. It’s just waiting, being very patient. If anything, I’ve learned patience from this injury.”
Coombs was part of a promising yet maddeningly inconsistent freshman class that seemed to test head coach Geno Auriemma’s patience during the 2017-18 season. Speaking with reporters Monday at his Fore the Kids Charity Golf Tournament, Auriemma offered a harsh critique of the class, which consisted of Coombs, Megan Walker and Lexi Gordon.
“We’d run and do some tests and half the time we’d have to send out a posse to go find them,” Auriemma said. “They were so slow and so behind everybody.”
Coombs played sparingly last season, averaging 6.7 minutes (third-fewest on the team) over her 25 games. She struggled with her shot (1-for-11 from 3-point range) and found the transition from high school to college tougher than she ever expected.
“There’s a hump. You’ll eventually get over it, but you’ll definitely have to go through trials and tribulations,” Coombs said. “It’s just learning the UConn way and how it’s so different than anything you’ve ever encountered in your life. I wouldn’t say I fully understand it now, but just going through freshman year where you really don’t know anything (is tough).
“Now, sophomore year I know what to expect.”
Coombs, who said she chose to attend UConn, in part, because of the school’s proximity to ESPN studios in Bristol — she arrived on campus an aspiring broadcast journalism major, by the way — hopes to make a bigger impact this season. She’s just waiting for doctors to give her the OK.
In the meantime, she would like suggestions on what to watch next on Netflix.
“Please, I’m kind of bored right now,” Coombs said.