UConn’s Gabby Williams changes approach, finds touch after rocky start

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David Butler II | USA Today Sports Images
Williams is averaging 8.8 points per game.

STORRS, Conn. — When it came to Connecticut’s long-standing policy of not allowing their players’ tattoos to be visible during games, a band-aid was just not going to do the trick for the artwork on the left shoulder of freshman Gabby Williams.

Williams, despite having no history of shoulder issues, dons physio tape for each game she plays at UConn to cover her ink. Of course, hiding a tattoo is nothing new to her.

A few years ago, her older sister Kayla thought it would be nice to get a tattoo and got Williams to go along for the trip to the tattoo parlor.

The ink is rather colorful and for Williams, it has a very special meaning to her.

“My sister and I got matching tattoos saying ‘nothing will break our bond’ in French,” Williams said. “My mom is French, and the rose, she has roses tattooed on her body.”

Williams can afford to chuckle these days at her decision to get a tattoo. She is also rather exuberant about the quality of her play in recent games.

Her inconsistent practice habits resulted in her being benched in the Nov. 17 game at Stanford, which resulted in an overtime loss.

When the Huskies returned from California, Williams began to practice with more energy and as a result, her role on the team increased.

“It is night and day [her improved habits] and the key is getting better from that,” Williams said. “It is not just even in the games, but it is in practice and off the court as well, doing the extra things. It is a mental challenge. … You have to compete in practice.”

Williams had 11 points in the next game and during the Gulf Coast Showcase, had a career-high three steals in a win against Vanderbilt.

I do need to be more aggressive and I have been too passive. I feel like I am not producing the way I should be and maybe because I am looking at the juniors and seniors to do that stuff.
— Gabby Williams

She has scored in double figures three times in the past four games.

Williams is averaging 10 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 0.8 steals and 0.5 blocks, while going 18 of 24 from the field during the past four outings.

UConn coach Geno Auriemma joked that when Williams got to UConn she couldn’t shoot, dribble or pass, so making her play in the post made sense. He has since relented on the assertion that she couldn’t pass. The reality was, the Huskies had more quality guards than forwards, so moving Williams to the frontcourt made perfect sense.

“Gabby, she is just getting better all the time,” Auriemma said. “She makes tough shots in the lane, she is active.”

If Auriemma has a complaint, it is that Williams — like so many freshman — doesn’t impact games and practice as often as she can.

“I do need to be more aggressive and I have been too passive,” Williams said. “I feel like I am not producing the way I should be and maybe because I am looking at the juniors and seniors to do that stuff. Sometimes they might need me to do that stuff. It is definitely something I need to get better at. That is my No. 1 goal, not to hear him say ‘you should be more consistent.’ “

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