The second-ranked Huskies cruised through their exhibition season with wins over IUP (105-28) and Holy Family (119-50) but starting Sunday afternoon, the games count in the standings. UConn will host the College of Charleston at Gampel Pavilion and it's not clear if they'll have one of their best players, junior guard Bria Hartley, on the court when they do.
Hartley has been recovering from a sprained left ankle she suffered in late August and she didn't suit up for either preseason contest. Coach Geno Auriemma admitted that he doesn't know if Hartley will be cleared to practice leading up to the CoC game.
“I haven’t heard her say one word … `Yeah, it’s a lot better. I’m going to be there tomorrow,’’’ Auriemma said via the Connecticut Post. “I haven’t heard a word. So we have a day off tomorrow. We’ll see what happens Friday. And then we’ve got a whole week before our next game so we’ll see what happens.’’
And even if Hartley practices Friday there's no guarantee she'll play two days later.
“When you haven’t practiced at all that’s tough,’’ Auriemma said. “It’s not like she missed a week. She’s been out a long time. And I want to make sure that she’s a hundred percent before I throw her back out there.’’
Last week, Auriemma said Hartley could miss the opener in part because of her stubbornness.
“That’s what happens when you are stubborn,” he said at the time. “She could have been back a lot sooner, but she never gives on that she’s hurting. She wants to play. Now instead of working her way back in, she’ll be spending the two weeks she tried to prove how tough she is probably sitting out. And as far as I am concerned, I don’t care if she’s out until January. I just want her 100 percent, to the point we’re not worried about it for the remainder of the season.”
The upside, of course, is that the Huskies' are stacked. With Hartley nursing an ankle injury, Auriemma could go with freshman Moriah Jefferson (she started both exhibition games) or veteran Caroline Doty.
If Hartley misses the Charleston game, she could be available on November 18 when UConn travels to College Station to face Texas A&M.