Auriemma Not Concerned With Hartley’s Slow Start

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The journey back to All-American form has been a frustrating one for junior Bria Hartley. A sprained left ankle and a partially torn ligament cost her more than a month of practice. She missed both of UConn’s exhibition games and the first two games of the regular season.

Hartley did not participate in a full practice until Nov. 20. Two days later, she played her first game against Wake Forest at the Paradise Jam. Being the type of competitor that she is she hoped that she would return to the court and be as productive as she was last season when she emerged as one of the top players in the nation.

That has hardly been the case through her first six games. Hartley is averaging just 7.5 points on 40.5 percent from the field in 21.3 minutes. She is, however, averaging 2.5 rebounds and 3.3 assists and has a 2.5 assists-to-turnover ratio.

Considering the amount of time that Hartley missed, UConn coach Geno Auriemma is not concerned about her at this point.

“I think she missed six weeks of practice,’’ Auriemma said. “She’s trying to get all six weeks back like in three days or five days. So every game she plays she’s trying to make up for the six weeks that she’s missing. So that’s not going to happen that quickly. So she gets frustrated and then she starts to force things. And little by little … She needs to just, and we had this conversation (Tuesday), take a deep breath and let things come and not force the issue. That was my advice to her.

“She’s probably right now right where she should be given the amount of time that she’s missed. When you miss six weeks there’s no way she could be ahead of here she is right now. That would be impossible. She’ll be fine. She’s better every day and that’s all that counts.’’

A telling sign of Hartley’s current position is how she fared offensively in wins over No. 9 Maryland and No. 10 Penn State this week. She has prided herself on being a big-game performer throughout her career with the Huskies, and she has put up a number of big stat lines against the nation’s top competition.

Hartley averaged 15.0 points in 17 games against ranked teams last season. She scored 25 at Baylor and at Notre Dame during the regular season; 18 against Notre Dame in the Big East tournament final; 20 against Penn State in the NCAA regional semifinals; and 18 against Notre Dame in the national semifinals.

However, Hartley scored a combined 16 points on 4-of-17 shooting from the field (1-of-7 3-pointers) against Maryland and Penn State. She also averaged 4.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 29.5 minutes.

Hartley, who has been performing well at practice of late, finished with eight points (3-of-10 FG; 1-of-5 3-pointers), five rebounds and three assists in 28 minutes against Penn State Thursday. Auriemma said during his postgame remarks that that was the best game she had played since her return.

“You can tell she’s still not quite there, but I’m not worried about her,’’ Auriemma said. “I know where she’s going to be when it’s all settled. I know where she’s going to be. My job right now is to work on the younger guys and get them caught up before too much longer.’’

One thing that seems to be a certainty is that Hartley will be seeing less time at point guard moving forward and more time at her natural position of two-guard.

“We need her as a scorer,’’ Auriemma said. “Her best attribute on the floor is to make plays for herself, make big shots, and in order to do that you need a lot of confidence. And she hasn’t been on the court enough to make shots, make plays. So it’s a little bit of a struggle for her right now. But that’s where Caroline (Doty) comes in. I think Caroline can help her a lot. The two of them can help each other a lot, by the way, because they both have their issues that they’re trying to overcome. And I think up to this point, the two of them, they’ve done a great job.’’

This exam break could do wonders for Hartley. Auriemma thinks going full-go at practice will help build her stamina, and without the urgency of having to into “game-mode’’ she can work on her game in practice

Teammate Stefanie Dolson said that confidence is a key right now for Hartley.

“Because she’s kind of behind I think it’s easy to get down on yourself and know that you’re behind,’’ Dolson said. “So she’s just got keep her confidence and know what type of player that she is and that she can be and that she was last year. But I’ve seen spurts of it here and there, definitely, of just kind of knowing what kind of player she is and just kind of work back with the team because it is hard coming into practices when you’ve been out for however long that she was where we kind of did some stuff and she’s got to learn it behind us. So it’s definitely hard. But we’re all here to help her with it and help her on the court and school off the court with finals coming up.’’

Rich

Categories: General

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12 Responses

  1. keith says:

    The recent comments give me hope- now we have so many people that can take u off the dribble and pop a three or a jump shot- We are hard to defend. Ron was telling Geno how to structuree practice in comments under the previous article so the long bench gets on better offensive sync. According to Bob Knight & Jeff Van Fundy. And many more- Geno’s practices are renowned – I don’t 2nd guess Geno often – I figure he’s probably earned that. This team is so much more talented than last yr; when bria b comes Bria and moriah and tuck start finishing a little more- our depth and different looks and talent give Geno a lot of options! Going to the open practice again this year on wed-for season ticketholders. It is better than a game! Go Bria & go Huskies! We will beat The Cardinal and then N Dame in early Jan!

  2. Nick says:

    I think Snow is Snowed in @ this point..do not know how he can hate on an all-american..the only one on the Uconn roster @ this point..we will see if he will stop hating and come to his senses @ some point if he is a true fan of the Uconn women.. Bria doesn’t deserve the hate he is sprewing. Maybe this year we will have 3 all-americans..that would be the bomb!

  3. Nick says:

    I definitely agree with Keith’s evaluation on the Uconn ladies and Hartley situation..not that it’s much of a situation but it’s true and fair I do believe that Bria will be fine after this break..not next year.. and Uconn will win the NCAA championship because she will show up in these big games as she has done in the past two years. They win against Baylor in the finals..

  4. James kerwin says:

    Keith you are right. Hartley is a prime time player. Without her in the past the wins over Stanford and Baylor would not have been.
    Banks is coming into her own. Don’t count Jefferson out, she has guts, intelligence, and game smarts–but she’s a freshman.
    Hartley is still hurting. Her come back may be a year off. I hope not. I am very high on KML, Banks, Stewart, Dolson, Faris, Stokes (not much of a shooter), Hartley, Tuck, Doty, Buck in that order. Doty has played some good to excellent games, but some bad (P.S.), Hartley has the energy-but is working back her skills–Tuck has the talent, and intensity but not the experience (it will come), Hartley is hurting enough said, Stokes is great on defense, Faris is Miss Everything, Dolson has improved by leaps and bounds a great scorer, needs help rebounding (stokes), Stewart has amazing skills but needs experience, Banks is a top dog in every phase, KML is better as an all around basketball player (shoots, rebounds, passes, dribbles, assists) than Maya was as a new Soph.

  5. Nick says:

    We are talking about a young women who had a ankle injury which no one doubts and someone making a comment about ego..she didn’t ask for Doty to tear her ACL..but she came in as a freshman and did something that almost no freshmen at Uconn has ever done. Which is play the point and average double digits plus hit game winning shots. Ron Snow should get a life and leave these young women alone.

  6. Nick says:

    Nobody wants to get into a debate with Ron Snow and the hating he is doing with Hartley..his comments about her personality which he knows nothing about are just mean spirited and seem quite bitter, about what I don’t know or care to know. What I do know is that Hartley is an all-american performer and a 1,000 pt scorer will probably finish her career at Uconn as one of the top 10-15 players in school history.

  7. geneco says:

    Your comment that Hartley is the #5 player is not really accurate. Stewart hasn’t proved herself in bug games at this point. She didn’t do that well in the two games against ranked teams. Hartley has more than proven herself in big games. She will again. She’s six week behind in practice if you read Geno’s comments. This year she also should be at her normal 2 guard position.

    Doty hasn’t produced to her sophomore standards either. She is playing somewhat tentative at times. Hartley is much more important than you seem to think and I don’t buy your thinking at all. Apparently the other comments don’t either.

  8. keith says:

    It’s not about her team ranking- 1-5. I don’t think we can beat Baylor to win a national championship without the Bria that knocked down 20-25pts in big games last year. I think a 100% healthy and confident Hartley is critical. I also think our depth and the fresher legs at the end of the 2nd half and options that this gives Geno will b why we have a great shot to beat Baylor.I think it will take good minutes from 10 players to beat Baylor-including Stokes & Moriah – just my oplnion.

  9. Ron Snow says:

    Apparently you are not paying attention to Geno’s comments. KML, Faris, and Dolson are UConn’s most important players. Ask Geno. When Stewart is able to play against young women like she plays against high schoolers, Stewart will by #4. Thus making Hartley the 5th most important UConn player. Go ahead, show your top 5 UConn players and reasons why.

  10. keith says:

    Bria Hartley is a great player and person. U Conn will not win National Championship without her healthy. She is a big time player. They will need every option they have right now. Stokes may be a key cog in defeating Baylor this year which I think a healthy deep Uconn will do. She won the 3 on 3 in intl. Tmt this year. Some people have short memories.

  11. geneco says:

    Whoever wrote that comment about Bria Hartley is so far off base that he isn’t even in the ballpark. Hartley is the one who responds when we play big games and will do so this year. Losing six weeks of practice doesn’t help any player. The newbies haven’t been able to respond in big games yet, it takes time, but Hartley will definitely be there as soon as she gets more time in. She is still better than most out there and will make the plays.

  12. Ron Snow says:

    It is not Hartley’s ankle that is bothering her. It is her ego. She realizes that All American status will not be reached with her reduced role on a loaded team.

    Hartley is UConn’s 4th (probably 5th) most important player. KML, Faris, Dolson (maybe Stewart) are more important to UConn’s success.

    Without Hartley, Doty and Banks could run the show. There is no replacement for KML, Faris, Dolson, and Stewart. (Stokes and Tuck are way behind Dolson and Stewart.)

    It must be killing Hartley to watch Banks emerge.