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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Freshman Williams continues to impress for UConn

In the days leading up to Sunday's game against Southern Methodist there was something bugging Gabby Williams.

For all the praise she received after scoring a career-high 15 points in last week's win over Tulsa, when she looked at the box score all she could do was fixate on another number in the final box score. Williams finished with nine rebounds falling one shy of recording her first collegiate double-double. While there are more important things in this world than whether she gets credited with a double-double, all Williams could do was think of the opportunities she had to add another one, two or even three boards in the Tulsa game.

Williams vowed that things were going to be a little different when she got into the game against SMU.

"It was kind of the mentality I had," Williams said. "I didn't want to go home and say 'I could have had that rebound.'"

Williams, named the American Athletic Conference Freshman of the Week, actually started slowly in the rebounding department when she was summoned to replace Kiah Stokes with 10:07 left in the first half. She went 2:22 before pulling down her first board. She promptly ripped down four in a span of less than 2 1/2 minutes. Williams played six minutes in the first half and had six points (on 3 of 3 shooting) and five rebounds. In the second half she was arguably the Huskies' best player with six points, 11 rebounds, two assists and two steals in 15 minutes. She had that double-double with an impressive 12-point, 16-rebound performance.

"I am try to build off the last game it is important to show I had that consistency," Williams said. "I want to build trust too in the coaches that they can put me in in tougher games."

It seems like an eternity that Williams' inconsistent practice habits resulted in her not getting into the game against Stanford when the Huskies suffered their only loss of the season. However, being limited to six minutes against Duke and playing only two minutes versus St. John's seemed to get the message across to the supremely talented Williams that if she is to reach her potential, she needs to get into the good graces of the UConn coaching staff during practice.

"I hope Wednesday (when UConn hosts Temple) she has another big game and I hope Sunday she has another big game but in the meantime I hope in practice she gets better every day, that is our plan between now and March," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said.

"There are things that go out in the game that coaching can only do so much for you. You can put players in certain situations, you can put them in this spot and that spot but in the end, they either have the ability to make that play or they don't have the ability to make that play. I don't know as time goes by that there is going to be any play that she can't make and that is exciting to be able to watch when she gets to that point."

Williams came to UConn with an impressive background. She finished fifth in the 2012 U.S. Olympic trials in the high jump as a 15 year old. Serious knee injuries forced her to miss much of her final two high school seasons and UConn took it cautiously with her during preseason camp. However, she is now being unleashed on opponents as she is using her incredible jumping ability to haul in rebounds and score over taller players in the lane.

"When Gabby comes in, she has been a spark off the bench and I think she is understanding what is being asked of her and kind of having that motor of not stopping," UConn junior forward Breanna Stewart said. "When she drives she can jump over the player most times and just shoot it. Her athleticism  makes her it lot easier to get to the basket."

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