Auriemma Gives Hartley A Vote Of Confidence

Junior Bria Hartley continues to work herself back to full strength – mentally and physically – after a badly sprained left ankle forced her to miss six weeks of action earlier this season. The process undoubtedly has taken longer than she hoped it would.

Hartley is averaging 8.3 points, 2.8 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 24.0 minutes in 18 games. Perhaps the most alarming stat is that she is shooting a career-low 40.8 percent from the field.

UConn coach Geno Auriemma has said that Hartley, who has scored a combined 20 points in the last four games, is getting better daily. He also remains confident that she will regain her All-American form at some point this season.

“I’m not worried about Bria Hartley,’’ Auriemma said. “Bria will be fine. It’s been a rough year. She just has been unfortunate in a lot of ways. And it’s not been easy, and I’m not going to change anything. There’s nothing I can do about it. There’s nothing anybody can do about it. But I’ve got enough confidence in her and so does the rest of the team and so does the coaches. We know what she’s done and where she’s been and what she’s capable of doing. So I’m confident.’’

Hartley will enjoy a homecoming of sorts Saturday when the Huskies travel to St. John’s, which is about 20 minutes from her hometown of North Babylon, N.Y. She said that she was trying to secure 25 tickets for the game in order to accommodate family and friends who plan to attend the game.

Each player received four tickets to the game.

“I’m pretty excited about it to be honest,’’ Hartley said. “I know some of the kids that play at my high school now are all coming to the game and I’ll have a lot of family. My grandmother’s probably going to try to come out to the game. She hasn’t been to one yet (during Hartley’s UConn career). So I think that’ll be cool. I’m just excited to have family and friends all there at the game.

“I think it is special (playing close to home). I think just having people there that support me and I know that have seen me play growing up and just watching me play. Even the young kids … I heard there’s like a young AAU team coming. I went to camps this summer (in Smithtown, N.Y.) when I was home and played with those kids. So it’s kind of cool because I remember when I was going to St. John’s games, and all these games, to watch people that I liked growing up. So I think it’s kind of special to see those young kids that admire me that they’re able to come out and play. I think it’s just a fun experience.’’