Connecticut seniors Bria Hartley and Stefanie Dolson watch the last few minutes of the second half of a second-round game of the NCAA women's college basketball tournament, Tuesday, March 25, 2014, in Storrs, Conn. Connecticut won 91-52.
It's been nearly a month since the Washington Mystics drafted former UConn center Stefanie Dolson with the sixth-overall pick, and then traded for her college teammate, Bria Hartley. Now both players are adjusting to life in the WNBA, a stark difference from their time in Storrs, where they won back-to-back national titles.
"It is intense," Dolson told ESPN. "You come in here and you don't really know what to expect. But you have to work hard no matter what. Coming in here, Bria and I -- and all the rookies -- just wanted to go out there and play hard. ...
"Coming in, rookies are quiet and not sure of themselves. But I bring a lot of confidence and energy. I think I'm a versatile post -- I can pass, I can screen for the scorers, but I can still finish when I get the ball inside."
For Hartley, it was about adjusting to a new atmosphere. "I was kind of uncertain about how everything was going to happen," Hartley said. "And how practice was going to be. When you're a senior you're used to knowing everything. And now you're here, a new place, a new coach, new teammates -- you kind of have to get used to it again. ... The game's a little bit faster, so you have to think a lot faster."
Mystics coach Mike Thibault knows it's all about making his new players comfortable. "I tried to joke with them about something just to see if I could ease the tension about being nervous as a rookie," he said. "The biggest thing I've actually told them is 'slow down and be who you are -- don't try to be something you're not.'"
"It's awesome being here with Bria," Dolson said. "I think it's an added comfort level that we have that most rookies don't. To know her before college, to play with her during college, and to now be able to play with her in the pros -- we know how to play with each other, we know what the other one is going to do on the court."
Hartley added: "We kind of read each other's minds when we're out there on the court."