Bria Hartley, like Shabazz Napier is nursing an injury. The difference (other than one injury is to an ankle and the other is to a foot) is that the women's team has so much depth that they could withstand a game or two without Hartley. The men almost certainly wouldn't stand a chance without their floor leader. Luckily, both are set to return before their respective season's kick off.
And all that depth affords Geno Auriemma the luxury of not rushing Hartley back on the court.
"Now is the hard part," he said via the Hartford Courant. "Now everything will be scrutinized. Everything must be All-American caliber for her. She is now being judged as an All-American and the next step for her is to embrace that responsibility and be sharp and solid."
Hartley, who was named to the WBCA's preseason All-American Team, understands the responsibilities and expectations that come with the honor.
"When you are an All-American, there is naturally going to be more attention paid to things you do," she said. "Last year we didn't have an All-American on the team (after Maya Moore graduated). But this year, I understand that once you are called an All-American, you are supposed to do what All-Americans do. That adds pressure, but you can't think about it. You need to just focus playing the way you know how to play."
Thankfully, Hartley will try to meet those expectations only after she's fully healthy. This is one of the many benefits to having not only the nation's best freshman class but also arguably its deepest bench.