Auriemma, Hartley Discuss Benching At Oregon

Junior All-American Bria Hartley had not played less than 14 minutes in the first 85 games of her career. There had been only five games that she had played fewer than 21 minutes during this span, including her first three games this season returning from an ankle injury.

This is why seeing Hartley play only seven minutes at Oregon Monday immediately made you wonder. Was it due to injury? No. Then what was the reason …

UConn coach Geno Auriemma did his best today to smooth over his decision to bench Hartley.

“I just didn’t feel like playing her,’’ Auriemma said. “I thought the other guys deserved to play a little more so I did it. It wasn’t anything in particular. I just thought it was a great opportunity to play those other guys.’’

Hartley, who came out of the game for good with 11:04 left in the first half, did take the time today to explain why she spent so much time on the bench.

“I wasn’t really playing that well, and I think Coach has high standards for me and I have high standards for myself,’’ Hartley said. “So I don’t think I was playing what I was capable of and I have to be a leader for all my teammates, all the freshmen. People like Breanna Stewart and Moriah Jefferson. So you can’t let little things like me not being prepared or not knowing where my man is on the court. You can’t let things like that slide, especially with a player like me. So I just have to make sure I’m paying more attention. And I think that was a good punishment for me to learn.

“It’s just a learning experience. You’ve just got to take it. There’s nothing you can do about that. Just pay attention to details. You come back to practice and you work on the things that you know you need to work on and just work really hard. And that’s the only thing I can say about that.’’

A recruiting source said that Auriemma is heading to Ossining, N.Y. this afternoon to see Ossining High star and UConn Class of 2013 commit Saniya Chong take on Christ the King and UConn Class of 2014 target Sierra Calhoun compete.