Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Roberts gets the call

It's been quite the week for former Mercy High of Middletown star Rachel Roberts.

The freshman guard from Marlborough was proceeding through her first collegiate season, honoring her coach's decision to sit out as a non-medical redshirt and was trying to learn as much as she could during practice so she could get the most out of her season on the sidelines.

Then as the injuries began the mount for Villanova, the Wildcats' coach Harry Perretta told Roberts he wanted to rescind the redshirt season and he wanted her to play. Little did Roberts realize that she would go from not playing to starting almost overnight.

Roberts started against George Washington in her collegiate debut on Thursday and was in the lineup again when Villanova played UConn. Roberts scored six points in each game.

"We were down to eight or nine people," Roberts said after the UConn game. "It was more of like 'we'd like you to play and if you are willing, that would be great. It would help the team.' It's my team so I would do anything for them.

"I didn't think I'd be playing at all. It was a shock and was really nerve wracking but the team is really supportive."

Perretta has a pretty disciplined system where milking the shot clock is the norm and yet Villanova usually can get the shot it wants so it is not unusual for a freshman to be redshirted. However, Perretta said he has never had a situation when he pulled back the redshirt season and inserted that player directly into the starting lineup.

"When Tia (Grant) went down (with a season-ending knee injury, we thought we might try to get through the season with nine and in the Marquette game Heather Scanlon went down," Perretta said. Now we are down to eight and I felt like we needed another player who can shoot, pass and dribble. She was the only one who was redshirting who I felt could do those things. I talked to her and said I wanted to take her out of redshirting. I said 'you are going to play so it is not like we are going to throw you in there for three minutes.' She really helped us beat GW. I have never had to do that before but I think it is benefitting her."

Her teammates have taken notice of Roberts' play. Senior guard Maria Getty, who led Villanova with 11 points against UConn, knows it can't be easy thinking you will not play the entire season one day and be a starter the next.

"Rachel got thrown into a tough situation and nothing we expected she'd have to do this year but she is taking it in stride," Getty said. "Just to think your first Big East game is against UConn but she has done well for us and hopefully she will continue to keep getting better."

UConn coach Geno Auriemma saw Roberts play a couple of times and believes she could do some good things at Villanova.

"It is not easy to be a freshman at Villanova," Auriemma said. "That is why they redshirt so many freshmen because it takes a little bit of time to pick up all that stuff so it must have been a big thrill for her that her first (Big East) game is against Connecticut. I always thought she played with a lot of energy and with a lot of confidence in herself. Offensively, she is perfect for the system, she is going to shoot 3's, she is going to find people that are open, she is a pretty good leader. When I heard she was coming here, I said 'yes, that pretty much makes sense.'"

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