Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Hartley shaking the rust off

Missing nearly all of preseason camp and the first two games was not how UConn All-American guard Bria Hartley planned on starting her junior season.

When Hartley did return to the court last week at the Paradise Jam in the U.S. Virgin Islands, she was most certainly raring to go.

“I was just happy to be out there and playing,” Hartley said. “Going a month without playing, I have never been out that long. Last time I was out that long I was in the fourth grade.”
A playground incident when Hartley was a fourth grader let to her missing time with her soccer and basketball teams. She considers herself fortunate to have been the picture of health before she injured her left ankle while playing for the U.S. team in the FIBA 3x3 World Championships.

Hartley took part in the Huskies’ first official practice in mid-October but when the ankle was not responding, the UConn medical staff shut her down.

Hartley was able to play 46 minutes in the three Paradise Jam games and is expected to make her first start of the season when the Huskies host Colgate today at the XL Center (7 p.m., SNY).

“It was tough,” Hartley said. “I couldn't imagine how to deal with people who stood out for six months like Caroline (Doty) with her knee (injury). For me, basketball is the No. 1 priority (for) a majority of the time so being out you kind of get down on yourself a little bit. It is hard to sit in practice and watch everybody playing and you are not able to play.”

The UConn coaches picked up that Hartley was a little over zealous when she returned to the court.

“She has never been out that long before and you expect when you come back to be where you were before the injury right away whether it is an ankle, whether it is a knee or any of that and it doesn't happen,” UConn assistant coach Shea Ralph said. “You have to ease into it. Her expectation level is so high that she was getting frustrated, not quitting but just getting down on herself.”

UConn coach Geno Auriemma said he knew Hartley was nearly all the way back when he saw her engaging in a spirited drill with senior wing Kelly Faris.

"The most encouraged I was about practice was one day at practice or one day at a shootaround when we wee getting ready to play (Purdue), she and Kelly were going at it in a really good battle. It was the best I have seen Bria look since Oct. 15 and that is when I thought she is getting there and is really close."

Hartley's teammates are thrilled to have her back in the lineup.

She is alwys very competitive, she is always going to go hard. You could tell obviously it was going to be one of her firest games back. For any player you are going to see that spark in them, you are going to see that excitement

"(She is an) experienced point guard," Faris said. "Sometimes in the past we have lacked that. Although Moriah got a lot of reps and it was good for her to have to go through that, it was good to have Bria back and somebody who has been through it and knows what she is doing."

Not all the injury news is of a positive variety for the Huskies. Sophomore forward Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis suffered a concussion in Saturday’s win over Purdue and will not play today after missing the last two days of practice.

“I talked to her (Monday) and it was 'my head hurts,'” Auriemma said. “It is funny because it didn't look like she got hit in the head. She said I don't remember getting hit in the head coach so it wasn't one of those that her head hit the floor or somebody hit her with a direct shot in the head. It was just one of those glancing blows that kind of got her neck going in a bad direction. You would rather err on the side of caution and that is what we were going to do.

“It is funny how this works. If you have 10 or 11 guys who can really play, somebody gets hurt. It is almost like the basketball Gods are saying 'you don't need her.' It is unfortunate because I thought Kaleena up to this point Kaleena was probably our best player.”

Auriemma and the UConn School of Business announced a partnership at a Tuesday morning press conference which will result in the Geno Auriemma Leadership Conference at Mohegan Sun Casino on Apr. 29-30 with speakers from ESPN, Walmart and Nike among other dignitaries.

Auriemma made it clear that he is not in the venture for personal gain and he will not benefit financially from the endeavor but he looks at it as a way to increase the profile of UConn’s School of Business.

“It’s not just a Geno Auriemma, women’s basketball, UConn athletics, UConn School of Business event,’’ Auriemma said. “This really is a community event that I think will galvanize the entire university and will benefit the entire university.

“I think it is important that we get to showcase the people we have because what you are going to get from the textbooks is the same you are going to get at any other school,” Auriemma said. “What I am hoping is that (people realize that) the people we have here are what makes us special.”

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