StorrsCentral - For Globetrotting Morgan Tuck, 'Connecticut feels like home'
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For Globetrotting Morgan Tuck, 'Connecticut feels like home'

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Entering her fourth year as a professional, UConn great Morgan Tuck has seen the world, playing in the WNBA and overseas. It’s given her perspective, and time to think, and she’s realized some large truths about men and women in this world, as she revealed during a recent exclusive sit-down with Storrs Central.

“I think women are always viewed as less than,” Tuck said. “It’s like ‘oh look women are playing basketball but it’s not going to be as good as the men.' We’re always compared to the men, like always.

"I don’t think we should be compared to men, we should just be women. The men have their leagues and it’s great and the women have their leagues and it’s great. I think it’s starting to shift and it’s starting to change, where people are seeing women ‘like oh they’re good too, it might be a different type of game but it’s still good’ ... And I think that’ll kind of change how women are viewed in society, we’re not less than to a man, or we have to be compared to a man. I think we can just stand on our own and be great in that way.”

Tuck, who turns 25 on April 30, has traveled all over, but to her, “Connecticut feels like home.” Tuck, who played four years for the University of Connecticut, is about to play her fourth season with the Connecticut Sun who drafted her with the third pick of the 2016 draft. Tuck’s professional career is about to be as long as her time at Storrs.

She played in 115 games while at UConn, and was a part of the “Big Three” along with Breanna Stewart and Moriah Jefferson that won four consecutive national championships from 2013-2016. She averaged 11.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game and finished her career with an impressive a shooting percentage of 53.5 percent.

In all of her years, her favorite basketball memory was winning the fourth championship.

“I think that was just the best way to end college, and going out with your friends, it was awesome,” Tuck recalled. The next day, she declared for the WNBA Draft, where she would join Stewart and Jefferson as the first teammates to ever go 1-2-3.

The Bolingbrook, Illinois native recently finished her second year playing for the Beijing Great Wall in China. It was an adjustment, “total culture shock,” as she put it.

“The food, the language, everything was just so totally different, it was just hard to get used to,” Tuck said. “After a couple weeks you get used to it and it kind of becomes normal.”

Tuck on WNBA Draft night in 2016.
Tuck on WNBA Draft night in 2016. (Ian Bethune)

This is the norm for women’s players at the pro level. While Tuck was used to being away from home, in college she was just a short plane ride away. In China? A 12-hour flight and a 13-hour time difference. Being on the other side of the world made it difficult to talk to friends and family.

Tuck is now used to spending holidays away from home. However, her teammates in China made sure she had a special Christmas.

“There they do celebrate Christmas, but not how we do here. But my teammates, they got me gifts, tried to really make me feel like I was at home because we had a game on Christmas Day. They knew it was our biggest holiday so they really tried to go the extra mile and make me feel like I was at home, having Christmas.”

Just weeks away from the start of her fourth WNBA season, Tuck sees her career in a good place, even though much of it has been spent just getting back onto the court. Tuck’s already endured six knee surgeries, an astonishing number considering her age. She's got a lot more she hopes to accomplish before her career is over.

“I want to be an All-Star,” Tuck said. “I’ve always wanted to be a WNBA All-Star.” Her heroes growing up were Lisa Leslie and Candace Parker, 13 all star appearances between them. Both Leslie and Parker have also represented USA in the Olympics. Tuck achieved her goal of playing for the national team this past September, but 2020 is the next big hurdle she wants to leap over.

For Tuck, her attitude is a simple one: ”Just continuing to play and as long as I enjoy it, just going until I feel like it’s time to retire.”

Clearly, that time isn’t approaching soon, and Tuck knows her Sun have a chance to do something special, after consecutive playoff appearances for this young group. As Tuck explained, it’s time “to make it past the first game of the playoffs,” which is where their season ended each of the past two years at the hands of Diana Taurasi and the Phoenix Mercury.

For Tuck personally, it’s about just playing her game, leaving behind the need to constantly think about what she’s doing or how her knees are feeling. A healthy Tuck can impact the game the way she did at UConn.

“I overthink it,” Tuck said. “Going out there and just playing, not worrying about anything, playing hard every possession, being aggressive and just doing whatever I can to help us win.”

And so, once her traveling off-season was complete — she headed to Paris once her season in China ended, she returned to the place that’s become home every bit as much as Bolingbrook, Illinois.

Being home means she can easily watch her college team play. In fact, Tuck was out throwing t-shirts at one of the last timeouts of this year's AAC Championship game in Mohegan Sun Arena.

“It was fun. Every time you get to watch UConn play, especially in person, it’s fun. And when you get to get that feel from the fans that you got when you were playing there, you know it’s packed, everyone is just excited that you’re there, that always feels good.”

In five years, while Tuck doesn’t know exactly where she’ll be she hopes she’s reached her goals of being an All-Star, winning a championship, being an Olympian and making sure she sets herself up for a good position after she’s done playing basketball.

In the offseason Tuck’s favorite thing to do is travel. “From China I went to Paris for a couple of weeks and just to see different cultures and different areas. I’m never really in one place too long. Whether I’m at home or not, I’m always going somewhere so I really like to travel without basketball. Take the basketball out of it and I really like to kind of be a tourist for a little bit.”

Tuck’s favorite place she has visited was, however, for basketball, Chile in 2011 as a member of the U19 team. “[It] was somewhere that I never thought I’d go, and it was just really cool to see a whole different part of the world. I’ve been to Europe a bunch of times and China’s cool too but when I went to Chile it was totally out of the box.”

Her next travel goal is to finish traveling to all of the continents and continue to travel without basketball. “I want to go to Africa ... I kind of want to go to Antarctica, I think that would be cool. Really just travel, but travel as a tourist.”

For now, being with friends and extended family in Connecticut is great.

“Being here it’s where I’m comfortable and where I like to be,” she said.

She reflected on what she thinks Morgan Tuck, the player, the person, meant to UConn, what she means to the Sun, and what she expects the rest of her 20s to look like as well, as she checks off the remaining goals in an already- impressive career.

“I see it as a legacy of someone that was dependable,” Tuck said. “Steady, you know what you’re going to get every day, and that was something that I really tried to do. I wanted to be a reliable person. I think if someone thinks of me playing at UConn, just a reliable player that showed up every day and was ready to do whatever the team needed.”