Tierney Lawlor understands that circumstance and opportunity have placed her in a unique situation this season. She is one of two walk-ons [sophomore Briana Pulido] on a team that is down to just nine players, but has won its first eight games by an average of 39.6 points.
That translates to the possibility of much more playing time than any walk-on in the nation could dream of. And she has received it with No. 1 UConn.
“I feel like every time that I step onto the court I am better than I was the last time,” Lawlor said. “It is very much a learning process.”
Lawlor, a star player at Ansonia, says she had no idea how much playing time she might get this season, but wasn’t expecting to get a lot.
And yet, she played 43 minutes in five appearances prior to Sunday, including 31 in the first three games of the Basketball Hall of Fame Classic last weekend. That included two first-half appearances.
“To be realistic, she is a hard-working kid and she does everything we ask her to do in practice every day and she is very tough. Her father played football at UConn, so you know she is a tough kid,” Geno Auriemma said. “And I like her a lot. But in terms of the remainder of this season, its highly unlikely you will see her in the first half against good competition or maybe even in the second half against good competition unless we are experiencing some real issues.
”It just wouldn’t be fair to her. She is not there yet. So far, especially last weekend, it’s been very low key. But I don’t know I would have felt comfortable doing that against Penn State, Duke or some other tougher game.”
Lawlor was 3-for-8 from three before Sunday’s game against Ohio State and 7-for-14 from the field.
In comparison, walk-in Stacey Marron played 132 minutes in her freshman season (2001-02), but just 167 in her next two seasons. Prior to the that, Marci Czel played 61 minutes as a freshman and 78 as a sophomore.
“The just keep pushing me, giving me new challenges,” Lawlor said of the coaching staff.