Hartley In Charge

The bar has been set pretty high for Connecticut sophomore Bria Hartley. She was the Big East Rookie of the Year last season. She was a preseason All-Big East first team selection this season. And she is on the preseason Naismith Award Watch List.

You don't receive that kind of recognition without being good. But Hartley has used the first 15 games this season to evolve into an even better player.

And now it is a matter of watching her to see what she does next.

Heading into Saturday's Big East game at Villanova (11-5, 2-2 Big East) Hartley is leading No.3 UConn (13-2 3-1) in scoring with a 15.7 average. She is shooting 54 percent from the field.

And coach Geno Auriemma thinks Hartley has found a comfort zone as UConn's leader.

"When she finished the season last year, I thought for a freshman put under that kind of microscope to have to do all that she had to do, I thought she handled herself great,"Auriemma said. "You could see even then that she wasn't afraid.

"She's staring to assert herself in games. I think it's evident that our players really respond to her and really kind of respect what she does on the floor. She's become a little more vocal. I think all those things are good."

Hartley is averaging 19.6 points over the past six games. In UConn's last two games, against Notre Dame and Providence, she scored 44 points on 17 of 26 shooting.

"Having Bria make as many shots as she's been making kind of loosens things up a little bit," Auriemma said.

The Villanova game is the start of a busy week for the Huskies. They play North Carolina Monday and Cincinnati on Thursday. Both of those games are at Gampel Pavilion. Then the Huskies hit the road again to play at DePaul on Jan. 21.

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