UConn coach Geno Auriemma had already spent more than 30 minutes talking with the media today at Gampel Pavilion. But as he saw Bria Hartley in the distance, he took the time to make one final comment about his All-American junior guard.
“She was great today,’’ he said.
Coming off of an encouraging performance against No. 4 Duke Monday when she had six points and a career-high nine assists in 30 minutes and two days off, Hartley looked more and more like her old self today in practice. She said that she is feeling more and more like her old self too as she continues to overcome a sore left ankle.
“I felt a lot better today in practice,’’ Hartley said. “I felt like I had a lot more confidence in myself out there playing. I felt like I was moving a little better and my ankle wasn’t really bothering me as much. That’s always good. I felt like these two days (off) helped me a little bit just to let my body recuperate and just rest up a little bit.”
Hartley admittedly has come to grips with the fact that she will continue to roll her ankle this season and there will be pain that she has to play through.
“I wasn’t blessed with good ankles, obviously,’’ Hartley said. “You’ve just got to keep playing. It’s still frustrating. Every time I’m like, `Oh my God, I rolled my ankle again.’ But you’ve got to just keep playing. It happens in basketball. Injuries happen or you’re hurt sometimes. So you’ve just got to be able to play through it.’’
Hartley will look to continue to make strides tomorrow in practice and then Saturday at Cincinnati. She knows that she is not where she needs to be at this point.
“I think I still need to prove it to myself,’’ Hartley said. “I think you have to go out there every day telling yourself that you still have to prove it because that’s the only way you can improve is if you have those expectations for yourself to get better. If you think you’re there, you kind of get complacent and you don’t push yourself as much.
“I think I’m in that mode right now where I’m trying to make sure I’m extremely focused on the court and making sure that I’m improving all the little things like limiting turnovers, working on defense, playing with intensity. I think I just made a conscious effort of that every day.’’