Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Hartley takes in night to remember at UConn

Bria Hartley's original intention was to stay inside the UConn locker room to take care of some academic responsibilities but as the roars continued to grow in intensity Hartley knew she had to witness the final minutes of the classic men's game between UConn and Florida.

"I was in the locker room working on presentation and then the last seven minutes I came out because I had a ticket," Hartley said. "The last seven minutes I said 'I have to go out and watch this.' It was crazy. Usually you have this side of the student section filled (pointing to the far end of Gampel Pavilion) but it was all up there (in the upper deck on the opposite end of the arena). We were sitting up there, usually  in the men's game if there aren't a lot of people we had to go sit up there. I think it was really cool and when Shabazz (Napier) made the shot, it was really awesome."

Napier had given UConn the lead with a four-point play with 34 seconds to play before Florida's Michael Frazier hit a layup with 18 seconds to play to give the Gators the 64-63 lead. Predictably, UConn put the ball in the hands of Napier. However, he nearly turned the ball over and threw up an air ball. DeAndre Daniel got enough of the ball to tip it back towards the foul line. Napier grabbed the ball and hit the game-winning jump just before time expired to give the Huskies the 65-64 victory.

Hartley and Napier are both four-year starters and floor leaders for their respective teams so she probably has a fairly deep insight into what makes Napier such an outstanding player for the Huskies.

"When he plays, he is smooth, slow/fast, he has a good judgment of when he should speed up," Hartley said. "He is really shifty and I like how he does that. Sometimes he I think his shot selection is a little crazy but when he hits, there's nothing you can say."

Hartley is not surprised that Napier put off his professional basketball aspirations to remain at UConn.

"I think Shabazz really values this program and playing in college because I think playing in college is one of the greatest things," Hartley said. "You see a lot of men's players and they just want to go to the NBA but he loves playing here, he really enjoyed his freshman year and he stuck it out here.I really admire that about him, he has always been one of my good friends. I always see him out here, he is fun to be around. When he is here he is having fun so I imagine he didn't really want to leave this place."

While Hartley and many of her teammates were inside Gampel and took in a tension-filled environment which resembled some of the recent contests against Syracuse, UConn women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma was in Louisiana doing some recruiting.

"I wish I was here to have seen it. I was in Louisiana unfortunately," Auriemma said. "I was in an establishment in Louisiana and for some reason they were preferring to watch the Saints and Seahawks and I couldn't get them to put the UConn/Florida game on, I was outnumbered so I had to follow it on my hand-held device. My son was here, he was at the same and he said it was an amazing experience. He said it was like back in the old days which he is 26 so I don't know what 'back in the old days' means to him, I think he probably meant Kemba (Walker), those are the old days for him."

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