Auriemma Explains Williams' Playing Time - NBC Connecticut
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Auriemma Explains Williams' Playing Time

Freshman Gabby Williams has played important minutes for much of the season.

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    Auriemma Explains Williams' Playing Time
    AP
    Connecticut’s Gabby Williams, left, drives to the basket as South Florida’s Courtney Williams, right, defends during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Sunday, Jan. 18, 2015, in Storrs, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

    Coach Geno Auriemma is forever preaching consistency and earning his trust when it comes to playing time. We've seen it with Breanna Stewart, arguably college basketball's best player, and we've seen it with Saniya Chong, who has seen her playing time increase in recent weeks.

    But it doesn't fully explain why freshman Gabby Williams, who has played important minutes for much of the season, only saw four minutes of action against then-No. 1 South Carolina last week.

    "It's a tough thing," senior Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis said, via the Hartford Courant. "Gabby had been playing so well. She was feeling as if she was ready to go. But sometimes in a game like that, it's not so much about physical ability, how you have performed in the past, but where you are mentally at that moment. The South Carolina game was one where you needed to be mentally prepared.

    "Coach needs to feel he can trust you on a consistent basis. And it's just hard, at this point of the season, for him to feel like he can trust everyone in a game like that one. When you are playing an opponent as competitive as South Carolina, I can understand Coach perhaps feeling iffy about whom he wanted in the game."

    It wasn't lost on Auriemma that Williams was sitting on the bench, but he says her presence there had more to do with how the game was unfolding.

    "(Williams) did not deserve to not play in that game. Her performance was not an issue. It was never a situation where I determined that she did not deserve to play. It wasn't even close to that.

    "It was just that those guys (starters) had it going so well, they were in such a rhythm against South Carolina, that I wasn't sure I wanted to disrupt it. So it wasn't a knock against Gabby as much as it was a vote (of confidence) in those who were already there. We had something special going and I just didn't want to mess with it."

    Either way, Williams understands where her coach is coming from.

    "I don't know if disappointed is the right word because your team had just beaten the No. 1 team in the country who was undefeated," Williams said. "I feel like we all won. But it was a wake-up call. I've been going great, but it still hasn't been enough. I need to do better. That's just how it is in this program.

    "I didn't talk to him about it. I don't think the right way to go is to beg him for playing time. That's not the kind of behavior this program wants. All I can do is find a way to get him to trust me. I understand you have to wait your time, make way for the experienced players.

    "But at the same time, I'm not going to be satisfied to just sit on my butt and wait for it to happen. I'm going to do what's necessary to change it."