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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Williams sparks more aggressive UConn defensive effort

Gabby Williams is second on the team with 41 steals, 27 coming as starter
When the season began Gabby Williams found herself in the starting lineup and the potential for UConn to speed things up was rather intriguing.

Williams had at least two steals in five of those seven games before UConn coach Geno Auriemma shook things up a little bit. With Morgan Tuck sitting for two weeks to rest her surgically-repaired right knee, Williams found herself back in the starting five and in her most recent three-game streak as a starter the athletic sophomore has 11 steals.

"Now is the time to work on that stuff and it is fun right now," Williams said. "The games aren't too stressful so we are trying to work on things and get the ball moving a little bit.

"We spent weeks going over our press and guarding somebody 1 on 1, making sure we aren't letting them (score) too easily."

Auriemma has been focusing on defense for about the last 2 1/2 weeks. He not only wants his team to guard more vigorously in half-court settings but also be more aggressive and clog up the passing lanes.

"This group has blended in pretty well and it is good defensively," Auriemma said. "Starting with a couple days before the Memphis game we changed up some things defensively that has made a big difference. We have gotten more involved, more aggressive instead of just 'OK, we will guard you down here, you shoot, then we'll go down and shoot ....' We are becoming more of an attacking team than we were that we were say a month ago.

"Gabby, Moriah (Jefferson), Kia (Nurse) are unbelievable defenders, they have great instincts and they play so hard and it puts a lot of pressure on the other teams. It frees up Stewie (Breanna Stewart) and Lou (Katie Lou Samuelson) to kind of do what they do."

Much of Williams best work recently has come on the road. That will change when UConn plays Memphis at the XL Center on Saturday. Williams will have some added motivation to play well.

"I am really excited to play at home," Williams said. "My family is coming up, my mom, sister and niece to finally get to see a home game so I am excited. It gives me something to look forward and I get to show them what I do every day and get to put on some other shoes that aren't blue because mine are falling apart."

The WNBA announced that six players, including former UConn stars Sue Bird, Maya Moore and Diana Taurasi, will be featured in the "Watch Me Work" campaign as some of the league's best and most recognizable stars give first-person narration into how they became the players and people they are today. Brittney Griner, Candace Parker and Skylar Diggins will also be featured.

Here is a link to a promotional video for the "Watch Me Work" campaign

The league also mentioned a change to its playoff format. The top eight teams regardless of conference will make the playoffs with the top two seeds getting byes into the third round and the teams seeded third and fourth getting byes into the quarterfinals. The first round and second round will be single elimination with No. 5 seed playing No. 8 and No. 6 meeting No. 7. The No. 3 seed will play the lowest-seeded first-round winner with the other opening-round winner meeting the No. 4 seed. The teams will be reseeded for third round series which will both be best of five game series as will the WNBA championship series.

Here is the Connecticut Sun schedule for the 2016 season. UConn players in parenthesis (based on last year's rosters)
Sat. 14   AT Chicago          7
Thu. 19 AT San Antonio 11 a.m.
Sat. 21   Washington        7 (Stefanie Dolson/Bria Hartley)
Thu. 26 Los Angeles        7
Sat. 28   AT Seattle           6
Tue. 31 AT Phoenix         7
Fri.  3     Atlanta 7 (Tiffany Hayes)
Sun.  5   Indiana 3
Fri. 10    Seattle  7  (Sue Bird, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, BREANNA STEWART)
Sun. 12 AT Atlanta           3
Tue. 14 Washington        7   (Stefanie Dolson/Bria Hartley)
Thu. 16 New York            7 (Swin Cash, Tina Charles, Kiah Stokes)
Sun. 19 San Antonio       1
Fri. 24    AT Seattle           7
Sun. 26 AT Los Angeles  2
Wed. 29   AT Phoenix         7
Sat.  2    AT Dallas              7:30
Thu.  7   Minnesota          7  (Asjha Jones, Renee Montgomery, Maya Moore)
Sun. 10 Atlanta               1 (Tiffany Hayes)
Wed. 13 AT Indiana           12
Fri. 15    Los Angeles        7
Sun. 17 AT New York      3
Wed. 20 AT Dallas              11:30 a.m.
Fri. 22 AT Chicago          7:30
Fri. 26    Minnesota          7   (Asjha Jones, Renee Montgomery, Maya Moore)
Sun. 28 AT Atlanta           3
Tue. 30 San Antonio       7
Fri.  2     Phoenix              7  (Diana Taurasi)
Sun.  4   AT Minnesota    6
Fri.  9     AT New York      7:30
Sun. 11 Chicago  1
Tue. 13 Indiana 7
Fri. 16    Dallas    7
Sun. 18 AT Washington 4

Also, here is the WNBA's ESPN/ESPN2 schedule for the regular season with visiting team listed first
Sat. May 14, 2016 Phoenix Minnesota 6:30 PM 7:30 PM ESPN
Tues. May 24, 2016 Los Angeles Chicago 6:00 PM 7:00 PM ESPN2
Tues. May 31, 2016 Minnesota New York 8:00 PM 8:00 PM ESPN2
Tues. June 7, 2016 New York Los Angeles 7:00 PM 10:00 PM ESPN2
Tues. June 14, 2016 Indiana Minnesota 7:00 PM 8:00 PM ESPN2
Tues. June 21, 2016 Phoenix Dallas 7:00 PM 8:00 PM ESPN2
Tues. June 28, 2016 Dallas Los Angeles 7:00 PM 10:00 PM ESPN2
Tues. July 5, 2016 Chicago Minnesota 7:00 PM 8:00 PM ESPN2
Tues. July 19, 2016 Los Angeles Indiana 8:00 PM 8:00 PM ESPN2
Sun. Aug. 28, 2016 Seattle Minnesota 6:00 PM 7:00 PM ESPN2
Sun. Aug. 28, 2016 Los Angeles Phoenix 6:00 PM 9:00 PM ESPN2
Tues. Sept. 6, 2016 Phoenix Atlanta 8:00 PM 8:00 PM ESPN2
Tues. Sept. 13, 2016 Minnesota Chicago 7:00 PM 8:00 PM ESPN2
Sun. Sept. 18, 2016 Dallas Indiana 4:00 PM 4:00 PM ESPN2



Anonymous Joe said...

If the WNBA is going to seed the top 8 teams by record for the playoffs regardless of conference, then what is the point of having conferences at all?

2:01 PM 

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