- UConn WBB Weekly
- Nika Mühl ready to battle her sister vs. Ball State: 'We are two polar opposites'
Nika Mühl ready to battle her sister vs. Ball State: 'We are two polar opposites'
For the first time ever, Mühl gets to play against her sister. Her parents will also be visiting from Croatia to see her play in the U.S. for the first time.
Photo: Ian Bethune
How to watch
Date: Wednesday, Dec. 6
Time: 7 p.m. ET
Location: Gampel Pavilion, Storrs, CT
Radio: UConn Sports Network (97.9 ESPN and affiliates)
Ball State Cardinals
Record: 6-1 (0-0 MAC)
Location: Muncie, Indiana
Head coach: Brady Sallee (12th season)
Nika Mühl ready to battle her sister in homecoming game against Ball State
The idea first spawned nearly two and a half years ago. Just before UConn met with the media during summer workouts in 2021, the team announced a homecoming game at Georgia Tech for Olivia Nelson-Ododa.
Nika Mühl took notice. Her sister Hana had recently committed to Illinois, so despite only being a sophomore, Nika decided she was going to approach the coaches about a pair of homecoming ideas for herself.
She set up a talk with Geno, optimistic about the idea of playing Illinois. “Or we could go to Croatia,” she reasoned.
As it turned out, in her senior year, the Huskies made both of those things happen.
In August, they traveled to Mühl’s hometown of Zagreb, Croatia on the first stop of their European tour and played an exhibition game there. On Wednesday, she’ll get the other “homecoming” when her sister comes to Gampel Pavilion with Ball State (she de-committed from Illinois after the coach retired).
“I'm extremely excited and I feel like all this excitement has been building up,” Mühl said. “I don't feel like I'm aware of it, honestly, until it happens. It’s just so overwhelming.”
Hana is feeling the same way.
“We've definitely talked about the game,” Nika relayed. “She's just been so funny. She's been so overwhelmed and excited and I love that for her.”
It doesn’t take much to see how well-regarded Mühl is within the program. Had UConn either just scheduled Ball State or visited Croatia on its European tour, that would’ve been a more-than-sufficient homecoming. Instead, the program did both — and Geno also managed to meet Mühl’s request about the site.
“She insisted that the game had to be at Gampel, too — because that's the atmosphere that she wanted for everybody,” he said.
Nika and Hana have never played each other in an organized capacity — only “one-on-one outside in the driveway.” Their parents, Darko and Roberta, and their cousin, Sara Deidda — a freshman on Wofford — will be at the game.
Mühl’s parents got to see her play in a UConn uniform for the first time during the European tour this summer but this will be their first time visiting Storrs for a game.
“Nika pushed for this game. Her parents are going to come over one time,” Auriemma said. “So [I thought] what better opportunity than to come over once. What are the chances, right? Two kids grew up in Croatia, and come all the way to the [U.S.], and their parents get to see them live here at Gampel.”
While this might be the first time the two go head-to-head on the basketball court, it won’t be their first battle with each other. Nika described Hana as her “polar opposite,” explaining that they had plenty of fights growing up.
“I mean, literally if you can make a completely different, opposite person out of me, it's gonna be her,” she said. “We were definitely cats and dogs when we were young, fighting a lot…we would always fight about everything.”
Nika is beloved for her intensity and determination while also owning a reputation for being stubborn. Hana’s got the softer side.
“She's much more easy-going than me. Much more calm, much more steady,” Nika said.
But ever since Mühl arrived in Storrs, their relationship changed once they stopped living in the same household. Once Hana was in college, they were thousands of miles from home, and hundreds of miles apart.
“Since I came to the United States, we kind of started that sister relationship, long-distance thing. We've gotten so much closer, and now we can't go without talking to each other every day on FaceTime,” Mühl explained. “I feel like that distance made us so much closer. … I'm so excited to see her.”
Both have tattoos for each other — Nika has an “H” behind her left ear and “Baby Mühl” written on her hand, which is a visible representation of the relationship.
“I don't think she would have ever admitted that she would look up to me and what I was doing,” Mühl revealed. “But it's interesting, a couple of days ago, she actually told me how proud she is of me and how for all these years, she's been looking up to me and trying to copy everything I do.
“It just means so much to me that, first, she’s finally able to admit it but also that I feel like being a big sister is such a blessing and it's a huge responsibility,” she continued. “I'm just so happy that I can call her my little sister and I learned a lot from her, too. It goes both ways.”
Yet as much as the focus may be on the two sisters, there’s still a game to be played.
“I'm sure she wants to win as much as I want to win,” Nika Mühl said. “It's gonna be so hard to watch for my parents.”
At the same time, she understands the larger picture and couldn’t be more grateful for this game.
“We're sharing this experience in the States and now we're going to share one together finally,” Mühl said. “Share it with my family, too, share with my people here, with all of y'all, with everybody that's gonna come and watch. It's just gonna be such a full circle moment for me as a person.”
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