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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Freshman Gabby Williams delivers for UConn

Gabby Williams' numbers in last night's American Athletic Conference championship game might not jump off the page at first glance.

After all, the freshman had 12 points in each of the first two games in the conference tournament so what's the big deal about six points, six rebounds and one assist in 15 minutes of play?

Well, I believe this was one of her most impactful games of the season.

Williams has been putting up some impressive numbers this season. I spent a few hours checking in this and among freshmen averaging at least 10 minutes per game, she is fifth nationally in rebounds per 40 minutes and eighth in points per 40 minutes. Many of those numbers have come when the Huskies were well on their way to victory.

Last night it was a different scenario. Morgan Tuck and Kiah Stokes were sitting with two fouls each and when Williams came into the game for the first time, South Florida was only down 10.

Williams got off to a bit of a slow start as her first 2 1/2 minutes resulted in no rebounds, no shots and one foul. But then in a 57-second span she grabbed a pair of offensive rebounds and scored in the lane. She added an assist on a Moriah Jefferson 3-pointer, another offensive rebound resulted in a Breanna Stewart basket and another basket by Williams pushed the lead to 27 points, the largest of the game.

"There would have been a different feel to the game if Gabby hadn't done that," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "Then in the second half, she did a really good job defensively. Going forward, there are going to be players that we play against, I think, that for stretches, Gabby might be the only person on the team that can guard them. It was big for her to contribute, feel confident and feel like she did some good things and that she is able to start the NCAA Tournament and go, 'I wonder if I'm good enough to play in the postseason.' I think what she did was really, really important; important for her and important for us."

Williams, a world-class athlete who finished fifth in the high jump at the 2012 U.S. Olympic trials, could be as explosive as any player to ever suit up for the Huskies. Like so many first-year players, she has had to carve out her niche. Playing 16-17 minutes per game Williams knows she needs to come in and make an impact quickly to remain on the floor.
"Pretty much every time I go in the first thing Coach (Geno Auriemma) said to me is to rebound everything," Williams said. "When I have that mentality and i get into that zone I feel like all around I get aggressive and the rebounds come."
The last time UConn played USF, Williams was barely noticeable. She missed her only shot, didn't score, had one rebound, two turnovers and two assists in nine minutes.

"Last time we played them I was definitely not happy with my performance," Williams said. "I felt like I didn't step up to the plate like I should have. I wanted to get a chance to redeem myself and I had to show them that I can do this, I can outrebound these girls."

South Florida outrebounded UConn 38-33 in the Mar. 2 regular-season finale. It was just the fourth time UConn did not win the rebounding battle this season and the -5 rebounding margin was the worst of the season. UConn's eight offensive rebounds was tied for the second lowest of the season. Considering that the season low of five came when the Huskies shot 62 percent against Tulsa, you could make the argument that overall this was the worst showing of the season on the glass.

What a difference a week can make. UConn had almost as many offensive rebounds (18) and South Florida had total rebounds (20). The Huskies held a 20-3 advantage in second-chance points and won by 14. It's pretty easy to do that math.
Speaking of crunching numbers here is the chart of the top freshmen in the country in points and rebounds per 40 minutes (through yesterday's games).

POINTSKelsey Mitchell, Ohio State 26.81
A'ja Wilson, South Carolina 25.97
Makeba Ponder, Georgia State 24.20
Dani Franklin, Valparaiso 23.25
Myisha Hines-Allen, Louisville 23.07
Victoria Vivians, Mississippi St. 22.81
Brianna Turner, Notre Dame 22.22
GABBY WILLIAMS, UCONN 21.47Liza Fruendt, Missouri State 21.43
Macy Miller, South Dakota State 21.43
Katelyn Flaherty Michigan 21.10
Bronaza Fitzgerald, UNC Asheville 20.83
Aliya Butts, Temple 20.69
Shakayla Thomas, Florida State 20.63
Funda Nakkasoglu, Utah State 20.24
REBOUNDSKaylee Johnson, Stanford 16.36
Michelle Nwokedi, Penn 15.61
Bronaza Fitzgerald, UNC Asheville 15.04
Sherae Bonner, Western Carolina 15.03
GABBY WILLIAMS, UCONN 14.69Sofia Roma, Wagner 14.54
Kiana Law, UMKC 14.33
Rebekah Van Dijk, Texas Arlington 13.96
Janayla White, Radford 13.58
Becca Jonas, Drake 13.57

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1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gabby Williams is my favorite player. Could have played 25 to 30 minutes per game elsewhere at the guard spot. Chose to help UConn win a conference championship and try to reach the Final Four. Nearly instant production and almost automatic in the low block. I worry that despite her production Geno will leave her on the bench when UConn is at a height disadvantage. As we have seen with Kia Stokes, not everyone gets it at UConn. Gabby does. UConn coaches have to get Gabby to work on developing a midrange jumper. She might have to play guard some day because of injury or foul troubles. Keep up the good work Gabby!

7:47 PM 

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