It’s Been Quite The Run For Bria Hartley

by Categorized: Bria Hartley, UConn women's basketball Date:

Bria Hartley does many things so exceptionally well that her uniform No. 14 will be raised to the Huskies’ Wall of Honor on Senior Night.
But at her core, she is a shooter. And that craft is largely dependent on the hands. So it seemed ironic that the greatest three-game shooting performance in Hartley’s All-American career took place with her jammed left thumb tightly wrapped following a mishap in practice prior to the game at Rutgers on Jan. 29.
Since the injury, the confidence she has in the repetition of her shooting form has returned and she has been practically unstoppable. Her hot streak produced the first three-game run of 20-plus performances in her 134-game career.
That streak ended with her 16 points Tuesday at Temple. It was replaced with the first double-double (11 assists) of her career. So the hits just keep on coming.
“I have just been playing with a lot of confidence,” Hartley said. “That stretch was very disappointing for. I shot the ball very poorly and I didn’t want it to happen again. Now it’s even more important that I knock my shots down. I had to change things. I went into the gym, took extra shots. And that helped me a lot.
“And anyway, I’m right-handed, so it [the injury] really doesn’t bother me that much,” Hartley said smiling. “If I keep stringing along games like this, I think my confidence will be fine.”
And then she let out a huge, hearty laugh. The pressure is beginning to fade.
Prior to Tuesday’s game at Temple, Hartley had made 29 of her last 47 shots, 12 of her last 19 three-pointers. She had scored 76 points. She was 7 of 15, 1 of 6 in the 93-56 win.
“It has all been feeling really good,” Hartley said. “Get in the gym, work hand and [regain] the muscle memory.”
Prior to scoring a career-high 30 points at Rutgers, which featured a 6-for-8 touch from three, Hartley had been in a miserable eight-game slump, shooting 35 of 95 (36.8 percent) from the floor, including 9 of 34 (26.5) from three.
UConn coach Geno Auriemma said he sensed her national prolife on the top-ranked team beginning to fade.
“I was telling some of our fans the other day at our open practice that I’m glad Bria’s under the radar,’’ Auriemma said “I’m glad that everybody is talking about everybody else because in the world we live, if you’re good today you’re the best of all-time.
“Anybody who’s doing anything good today [is] the greatest of all-time because people’s attention span is like [short]. What you had for breakfast is the greatest breakfast anybody’s ever made. That’s the way the world is now.
“But people forget Bria Hartley, as a sophomore, was one of the Top 10 players in the country. She didn’t all of a sudden just become lousy.”
Still, in some respects, it’s been a difficult last two seasons for Hartley after being named a WBCA All-American as a sophomore.
Her junior season was interrupted before it began by an ankle injury suffered in the summer of 2012 playing for USA Basketball’s 3×3 team in Greece. The ankle nagged her all season.
And even without that complication, Hartley is the first one to admit that he’s always been a streaky shooter.
“I miss them all and I make the all,” Hartley said. “It seems like that’s always been the story with me.”
As an example, she followed a 4-for-21 shooting performance at Maryland Nov. 15 by scoring 29 points at Penn State two days later.
“She went through a spurt [or poor shooting]. Now she’s back to being Bria Hartley,” Auriemma said. “It just kind of got away from her a little bit. … With Bria, when she’s feeling good, healthy physically and her mind is right, and she feels confident, that kid’s pretty special. She makes stuff happen.’’
Now she is putting up All-American numbers once again with career-highs in scoring and assists. And in her career, Hartley has scored 1,690 points (12th in team history) with 484 rebounds and 492 assists.
She stands 16 rebounds and eight assists shy of joining Diana Taurasi and Maya Moore as the only players in team history with 1,500 points, 500 rebounds and 500 assists.

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