Hartley adjusting to life as a reserve at UConn
Sometimes the alterations come as a result of injuries and then there comes a time when staying with the status quo simply wasn't the winning edge.
That is exactly what happened with the 2012-13 squad. With freshman forward Breanna Stewart playing at a level that was simply too dominating to keep her on the bench and the sense of loyalty he felt to fifth-year senior guard Caroline Doty, Auriemma made the difficult decision to remove Bria Hartley from the starting lineup beginning in the second game of the NCAA tournament.
Hartley's impact in those first two games coming off a bench was minimal at best but when she got the call in Monday's win over Kentucky, her impact was immediate and dynamic.
“I am not used to it so I have to get used to how to do it,” Hartley said. “I think (Monday) it really started on the defensive end for me and if my offense isn't really going, just trying to make plays other ways and that is what I was able to do tonight. I think as one of the older ones on the team and one of the leaders on the team, you just want to be able to go out and be an example especially for a Moriah (Jefferson) or Morgan Tuck, the ones you need to come into the game and contribute for us. I want to show them that this is what you have to do to contribute in any way.”
Auriemma didn’t make the switch in the starting lineup on a whim and he admitted to being a little concerned on how Hartley would respond to being removed from the starting lineup.
“Every decision you make you make it with your fingers crossed and you hope that it works,” Auriemma said. “This particular decision it was ‘hey Bria we need some energy coming off the bench, we need some scoring.’ You don't know whether it is going to happen or not. You don't know whether Bria is going to pout a little bit and not sure but she has come out and done exactly what we want her to do and in the biggest games she plays her best and (Monday) was no exception.”
The way that Hartley, who started 100 of her first 105 games, reacted to the change was not lost on her teammates.
"It has just shown up how much she has grown up," Doty said. "She is unbelievable player and the fact that she is able to take that role of coming off the bench and being that spark, she has been that spark consistently and that is huge because she is a great player and she means a lot to the team. Usually when people go to the benches there is a drop off but with Bria she always brings that spark and attacks the basket."