It has been a rough couple of weeks for freshman point guard Bria Hartley. A nagging injury to her right ankle forced her to miss at least a portion of practice for a week to a week and half, according to Huskies coach Geno Auriemma. She truly has not been healthy since sustaining the injury early in the second half at North Carolina Jan. 17.
This week, though, Hartley has taken a turn for the better. She is back to being a full participant in practice, prompting Auriemma to say that “everything’s good’’ and for Hartley to be encouraged by her progress.
“It was bothering me,’’ Hartley said. “It’s definitely felt a lot better lately. It hasn’t been bothering me at all. I’m always in treatment with (team trainer Rosemary Ragle) working on strengthening and stuff. I’ve just got to make sure I’m being consistent in there and make sure it doesn’t give me any pain so I can be out here on the court. I’m glad I can get back into it full-time and hopefully keep improving.’’
Being a self-confident individual, Hartley said today that she did not believe that the injury set her back. But over the last four games she has not been the same player she was during the first 20. She has failed to reach double figures in a season-high four straight games, averaging 7.0 points, 2.8 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 3.5 turnovers in this stretch.
Hartley averaged 13.7 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.7 turnovers through the first 20 games.
“I don’t like to say it set me back,’’ Hartley said. “I just tried to still stay involved with my teammates on the sideline, paying attention and still listening to what we had to do on the court. So I don’t know if it set me back that much. But I just want to make sure that I’m paying attention and that I’m helping my teammates.’’
Hartley’s 3-point shooting percentage has also dropped over the last four games. She is shooting 33.3 percent (4-of-12) from beyond the arc as opposed to 43.3 percent through the first 20 games.
“I feel like I haven’t been playing to my capabilities,’’ Hartley said. “But having bad games, even having four bad games, you’ve got to still play and still get your teammates involved and then cheer them on when they’re doing good. I guess if you’re open I’ve got to make sure I knock down the shots. I think I’ve been missing quite a few more shots lately than what I had been in the beginning of the year. So I’ve just got to make sure I get in the gym and get good shots up and make sure my shot stays consistent and just gets better as the season goes on.’’
Hartley pointed out that she has to make it a point to cut hard offensively. This will help her to create some space between her and a defender now that teams are stepping out more aggressively on her in attempt to take away the long range jumper.
Hartley will look to shed her offensive woes Saturday against Providence at sold-out Alumni Hall.
“I just try to not let bad games bring me down because there’s always going to be another game,’’ Hartley said. “You’ve got to keep playing and making sure you’re getting better because if you just dwell on it then you’re really not going to get better.’’
Auriemma will be featured on the SNY Spotlight Sunday at 9:30 p.m.