And it looks like Napier, arguably the Huskies most important player, will give it a go, but how effective will he be? Another game hangs in the balance.
"Of course, we're going to be cautious," coach Kevin Ollie said after practice Saturday "We're not going to have him out there to get hurt severely. You've got to have a balance. He's got to understand that if it's pain you can play through, it's just mental. Hopefully, he can get over it."
UConn's athletic trainer, James Doran, will give his opinion, and then Ollie will want to hear from Napier, too.
"If you can go out there and play, I don't want any excuses," Ollie said. "If you're out there, we want you to go 100 percent, if not, I'm going to take you out."
A week's time, you might notice, hasn't softened the edginess that Ollie had after the loss. The Huskies (12-5, 2-3 in the Big East) are entering another key stretch of games, a challenge of a different type: five games against teams picked eighth or lower in the league's preseason coaches' poll, games that offer an opportunity to build a respectable win total for the season, or games, if UConn does not win enough of them, that can take the luster off the Huskies' encouraging early-season accomplishments. So Ollie is pushing hard right now, demanding ever more grit and toughness as the season wears on, finishing Saturday's practice with another round of his three-box-out drill.
Numerically, the Huskies have rebounded much better in Big East play, near even with opponents, but Ollie did not seem impressed by that, especially after a meek first half under the boards at Pitt.
"You've got to hit first," he said, arms folded, impassively. "That's all rebounding is, heart and desire. You've got to go get it. That's the only way you can win in the Big East."
Napier, averaging 16.6 points a game, who bruised his left shoulder on Jan. 14, was told that it would take two weeks for the pain to go away. He had three consecutive days to rest following the Pitt game, in which he played 34 minutes and hit 2 of 7 from the floor, and then another day on Thursday.
"When I first wake up in the morning is when it seems to hurt the most," Napier said. "Once I get it loosened up, it feels fine."
R.J. Evans, who played with his own shoulder injury in December, has been watching him.
"Shabazz has been getting hit and not making any faces," Evans said, "so I think he is close to 100 percent. He's looked really good the last couple of days in practice."
Napier was kept out of the high-contact box-out drill on Saturday morning. At Pitt, he was hesitant to use some of his usual moves on the court, lacking confidence in his ability to control the ball with his left hand. Ollie wants him to get over that block Sunday, especially because Rutgers, a team put together much like UConn, has three guards in Eli Carter, Myles Mack and Jerome Seagears who must be attacked offensively and guarded aggressively. The Huskies were burned down the stretch at Pitt, after they had come back from 14 points down to tie it, when the Panthers ran the pick-and-roll to perfection, and Rutgers will certainly try it, too.
"They've got good guards," Napier said. "Mack and Carter can really shoot. Seagears can penetrate. You have to be careful not to help too much [on defense], then you leave somebody wide open for a three."
Rutgers (12-6, 3-4) comes off a frustrating loss to St. John's on Wednesday, in which the Knights missed 17 layups and 12 free throws, and had 17 turnovers. At their best, with Mack and Carter shooting 50 percent, the Knights beat Pitt on Jan. 5.
"They're like a mirror image of us," Ollie said. "They play three guards, they have a versatile [power forward] with Dane Miller, like we have in DeAndre [Daniels]. They have a couple of good post players."
The Knights have outrebounded their opponents this season, by two per game in Big East play, so although in terms of size this looks like a rebounding matchup the Huskies can win, it does not figure to be easy. The Huskies have been outrebounded by a margin of four per game overall, but by 0.6 in their five league games.
"We need to make sure we keep them out of the paint," Ollie said. "We're giving up too many rebounds. We've got to do a good job on the pick and roll … make them take difficult shots, and that will allow us to rebound better."