Collier, Williams ready to step up for UConn
Seeing Breanna Stewart aggressively going after blocked shots and rebounds while playing with two fouls in the first quarter showed potentially the fine line the Huskies are walking. UConn had a seven-player rotation and now it is down to six without Samuelson.
Both Collier and Williams delivered in a major way against Oregon State and figure to play key roles in the national championship game.
"I am just going to have to be ready," Williams said. "I think the entire team will have to contribute a little more. No one can do the things she (Samuelson) does, so we will all have to do a little bit more of what we are good at.”
Williams can be more of a force as a rebounder especially on the offensive end than Samuelson was. While she won't win a 3-point shooting competition against Samuelson, she has made tremendous strides in adding range on her jumper. She has also gone from shooting 46 percent from the foul line as a freshman to 76 percent this season.
"It is definitely an approach," Williams said of her improvement at the foul line, "I think mentally I think I have grown. It started with 'I hope I don't miss this.' I attacked it in different ways."
Williams became a better shooter the old fashioned way with plenty of work.
"I don't know if I could put a number on it," Williams said of the time spent on her shot during the summer. "It was definitely an hour, an hour and a half since the season is over working on my shot."
"She has gotten so much better, she has really (worked) this summer and have a different result," UConn assistant coach Marisa Moseley said. "She knew that she could and just had to put in the work. She has worked tirelessly. We did a ton of form shooting. When she first got here she wasn't a post player and that is the most amazing thing. She didn't have anything so we went from the beginning with drop steps, up and unders. She is a quick learner, she has dedicated herself and I am proud of her."
Collier is another aggressive offensive rebounder. She also needs one more steal for 50 and has the sixth most blocked shots (47) for a freshman at UConn.
"We just try to pick her up," Collier said. "Obviously it is hard coming to the Final Four. It stinks that she can't play in that game so we just try to pick up the slack and try to push through for her. "
South Carolina All-American A'ja Wilson played with Collier on the U.S. U-18 team and U-19 squad in the last two summers and she is not surprised about what Collier is contributing to the Huskies.
"She is a hard worker, she gives you everything she has and is a nice girl," Wilson said. "I love 'Pheese, she is just a phenomenal player and plays hard at all times."
VIEWING PARTY AT GAMPELFans who didn’t make it to Indianapolis can head to Gampel Pavilion to watch the national championship game. Admission is free but unlike in past years, a ticket will be required to enter Gampel.
General admission can be picked up from 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. at the UConn ticket office. If there are tickets remaining they will be distributed at the door until no tickets remain.
The doors to Gampel Pavilion will open at 7:30 p.m. Concession stands will be open and all normal Gampel Pavilion policies will be in effect.
RATINGS GAINESPN announced that the UConn/Oregon State semifinal drew an overnight rating of 1.7 which was a 31 percent jump from the first semifinal at the 2015 Final Four between South Carolina and Notre Dame. It was also a 6 percent improvement from UConn’s 2015 semifinal game against Maryland.
The other semifinal between Washington and Syracuse had a 1.4 rating.
The UConn semifinal also saw a 70 percent increase in average minute audience, 32 percent increase in total unique viewers and 59 percent increase in total minutes viewed compared to the first semifinal game in 2015
Hartford delivered the highest-rated market at 19.2 for the first semifinal, followed by Portland (7.0), Seattle (4.4) and Knoxville (3.0).