Unless fortune is smiling, there will come a time when the fate of the basketball season shifts from the floor to the training room.
"It's really not realistic to have all 11 players 100 percent healthy the entire season," Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis said.
As many battles as No. 3 UConn (15-1, 3-1) has won this season, athletic trainer Rosemary Ragle, in tandem with UConn's medical and training staff, has registered just as many by getting the Huskies ready to play.
"Athletic trainers are like the unsung heroes," coach Geno Auriemma said.
More evidence of that comes Saturday when freshman Breanna Stewart returns from an ankle injury after missing two games when the Huskies play Syracuse (15-1, 3-0) at the XL Center.
"In a very good way, Breanna was absolutely getting on my nerves [to get her well]," Ragle said. "I love it when the athletes are in a hurry. But I knew what was best for her. And I couldn't let that happen. It's obvious to me that she is a competitor."
Stewart injured her left ankle last Friday when she fell on the foot of Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis in practice.
"I must have asked Rosie [about returning] 10 times a day," Stewart said.
Stewart, who went to high school in North Syracuse, N.Y., will return to play against her hometown school.
"She's a great player," Syracuse coach Quentin Hillsman said. "We've all seen her play and I believe I was the first [in high school]."
Making sure Stewart would be able to play has been the last in a long line of projects for Ragle.
"The only pressure I feel is what I place on myself," said Ragle, an athletic trainer at UConn for 14 seasons. "I take it very personally when kids get injured. I do not want them to play until they are ready to do so. The coaching staff has been great; it sees things for what they are. I never feel pressured by them to get players back before the time is right."
Ragle's work began in the offseason when Bria Hartley severely sprained her left ankle while playing for USA Basketball in the summer.
Hartley missed the first two games then re-injured it last Saturday at Marquette. She was back in time for Tuesday's win against Louisville, and she played 33 minutes.
"When these injuries happen, the [healing process] is all about repetition," Ragle said. "My athletic training student was on the trip [to Milwaukee] so when Bria was hurt I was able to man the floor while she started treatment. It was a lot of ice, electrical stimulation [which helps with inflammation and pain]. The quicker we can diminish those things, the quicker they can get back.
"I thought Bria may have struggled a little more than she did [against Louisville]. But I was pleased that she didn't appear to struggle."
Hartley said a debriefing helped.
"She mentally prepared me to deal with the pain so I wouldn't shut down," Hartley said.
Mosqueda-Lewis, who had a concussion at the Paradise Jam, has dealt with quad and ankle injuries but missed only one game, Nov. 28 against Colgate.
"The quad contusion was quite a significant injury," Ragle said. "That's why we held her out. But she did whatever we asked her to [to recover]."
Kiah Stokes missed five games with a stress reaction in her left shin.
Morgan Tuck bruised a knee in December and has been in and out of the lineup, missing three games.
"With Morgan and Kiah, the ups and downs of their conditions have been the frustrating thing," Ragle said. "Because Morgan's bruise is inside the bone of the knee, it's taking a long time to heal."
In fact, Stokes left practice again Friday and might not be able to play Saturday.
Then there is Caroline Doty, whose thrice injured knee requires daily care and maintenance. She has not missed a game this season and just one since the start of last year.
"I've spent a lot of time with Caroline," Ragle said. "This is will be the first senior night in a long time when I'll likely get choked up. It's very hard not to get attached."