McDuffie ready for AAC opener

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Saturday we'll get to see junior forward Markis McDuffie for the second time this season. Last year's leading scorer and rebounder has been recovering from a stress fracture in his left foot since late September.

Last Friday night against Florida Gulf Coast, McDuffie made his season debut. He played nine minutes with three points, five rebounds, a block and two assists. He had a minutes restriction of eight-to-ten minutes. 

McDuffie will likely have a similar restriction at UConn.

"Even if he were cleared 100 percent to just go, I mean, his conditioning is limited still," assistant coach Kyle Linsted said. "Hopefully he's got the jitters out and he's worked through those things and he can get involved to a point where he can help us and obviously with this conference run we're going to need all the good players we can get on the court."

McDuffie says he still needs to be careful, but was able to practice full time on Wednesday adding he will be able to go a little longer than he did last Friday night.

"I'm confident enough to go more than eight-to-ten minutes now and play as much as I can. I don't want to play too much, but depending on how my foot is and if it's feeling fine, I can go," he said.

The Shockers really need McDuffie's defense as they embark on a tough conference schedule. He was able to force a team-high 42 steals as a sophomore.

"One huge thing that Markis brings is energy," Linsted said. "He's very energetic, he's very active and I think that's something our team needs. Put pressure on the ball, take teams out of their comfort zone and I think people see he's our leading rebounder, he was our leading scorer last year, but the big thing he brings to me is he brings a little bit of tenacity and energy on the defensive end of the court."

McDuffie and the Shockers (10-2) head to Hartford to battle UConn (7-5) at 11 a.m. Saturday on CBS.