Kia Nurse Gabby Williams become fast friends at UConn
The sense of familiarity that Moriah Jefferson, Breanna Stewart and Morgan Tuck gained during their USA Basketball stints when they got to Storrs two years earlier or unmistakable bond shared by current freshmen Napheesa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson just didn't exist.
Nurse and Williams both came from athletic families with fathers who coached them from the early days of their time as basketball prodigies but on the surface, the sophomores on the mighty Husky teams seemed to have very little common bond.
"We don't really have Canadians in Nevada," Williams said with a chuckle. "I think we do come from different families. It is nice to have somebody to share things with, have somebody who is going through the similar things you are going through."
Anybody who has been to a home game at UConn during the 2015-16 season got to see the chemistry between Nurse and Williams firsthand. As a way to entice students to make it to the women's games there have been prizes handed out. It used to be UConn coach Geno Auriemma announcing the winners of the raffles and greeting the students as they come to claim their reward. However, that changed this year as Nurse and Williams were more than willing to take over those duties. There was even a time when Nurse joked with the UConn radio announcers that she'd rather be over with Williams doing their own version of stand-up comedy rather than discuss her impressive performance that day.
"Once we got past the awkwardness of our first hug, our first encounter 'we are teammates, we should hug' from that point on she was like the Solange to my Beyonce, we have become best friends ever since," Nurse said. "Even last year, having somebody going through things and always talking, we will talk about anything. She has been an ear to listen to anything I have to say."
When Nurse and Williams arrived at UConn they weren't even roommates but it didn't take either of them very long to realize that they would be building a friendship that had little to do with basketball.
"I have no idea why I hang out with her to be honest," Williams said. "I guess we have similar interests and we are both kind of crazy. It is one of those things where the chemistry (worked)."
So have they become fast friends because they are so similar or so different?
"It is a little bit of both," Nurse said. "In some ways we are exactly the same person and like twining and in other ways we are so opposite. I learn from her opposite and she learns from mine so it works really well."
If Morgan Tuck opts to leave UConn at season's end and not take advantage of a fifth season of eligibility which was granted after her knee issues resulted in her only playing in eight games as a sophomore, there will be a large leadership void to be filled without Tuck, Jefferson and Stewart around. Rising senior guard Saniya Chong's role for next season is uncertain. If she finds herself playing limited minutes as she has for much of this season, it will be hard to her to take up some of the vocal leadership. However, both Nurse and Williams seem natural candidates to lead the way as the Huskies move on after four years of incredible success.
Having each other to help with the increased responsibilities could be a huge help for both Nurse and Williams.
"It is super important to have that kind of backing when you are coming to a place where you are so far away from home and far away from everything we know so to have somebody like that, it is (special)," Nurse said.