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UConn women’s basketball UConn women’s notebook: Christyn Williams emerging from her slump

February 12, 2019

HARTFORD — Christyn Williams has learned a few valuable lessons during her hectic and sometimes overwhelming freshman season.

“Just to stay positive and listen to what [coach Geno Auriemma] says,” Williams said following No. 4 UConn’s 97-79 victory over No. 11 South Carolina at the XL Center Monday night. “If he says run through a brick wall, you ask, how many times? Just listen to everything he says and go out there and do it.”

Williams recorded 19 points, including 13 in the second half, displaying another sign that she may be climbing out of her slump. It was her second time scoring in double-figures in three games and matched her highest output since she had 19 points Jan. 9 against Cincinnati.

“I feel like I’m in a better place now than I was a couple weeks ago,” Williams said. “Of course, I still have a lot of things to work on, but staying consistent is my main focus right now.”

Consistency eluded the 5-foot-11 guard over a seven-game stretch in American Athletic Conference play, when she averaged only 4.1 points while shooting 13-of-43 from the floor (1-of-16 from 3-point range).

Williams, the No. 1 overall recruit in 2018, admitted she had become “overwhelmed.” As the game sped up, so did her mind.

“You have a lot of things coming at you,” she said. “Especially here, Coach has high expectations for me. I got overwhelmed, but I had to stay positive. I’m kind of past that point.”

With aspirations of reaching a 12th straight Final Four, the Huskies (22-2) certainly hope she is.

“Some kids are just, they’re thinkers,” coach Geno Auriemma said. “They think too much, and they want to do the right thing all the time. They’re constantly thinking about, ‘What do I have to do? What am I doing?’ She got caught a little bit in thinking about playing instead of playing. ‘What should I do if I get it,’ instead of just trusting her instincts.

“Experience helps. Little by little, the more games we play, the more practices we have, the more she’s starting to feel comfortable.”

Record-setters: Seniors Napheesa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson (combined 4,261 career points) became the highest-scoring pair of classmates in UConn history, passing Moriah Jefferson and Breanna Stewart (4,208).

“That’s pretty cool,” said Samuelson, who finished with 29 points. “It’s pretty funny, we played with them. It’s kind of crazy, we were both freshmen. To see them do that — that’s pretty awesome, actually.

“For us coming in together and going through the stages together as classmates, it definitely makes it pretty special.”

Like Samuelson, Collier wasn’t aware of what the duo had accomplished until a reporter told her postgame.

“I didn’t know that, but that’s pretty cool,” Collier said following her season-high 31-point effort. “It does feel good to do it with Lou. We’ve been through all four years here together. We’ve seen each other grow, and I’ve seen how she’s progressed as a player and a person.”

Looking ahead: A source familiar with UConn’s recruiting process confirmed there’s mutual interest between the program and Anna Makurat, a 6-0 guard from Poland.

Markurat, 18, who’s playing professionally for Arka Gdynia, would supply much-needed depth to the Huskies’ roster next season. The source confirmed that nothing appears imminent, though.

As it stands now, the Huskies’ roster is at nine for 2019-20. That includes incoming freshman Aubrey Griffin, a 6-1 wing from Ossining, N.Y.

UConn’s interest in Makurat was first reported by the Journal Inquirer of Manchester.

Accolades for Lou?: Samuelson has been named one of 10 candidates for the Ann Meyers Drysdale Award, it was announced Tuesday. The award recognizes the nation’s top shooting guard.

Samuelson is averaging 19.3 points and 6.9 rebounds.

dbonjour@ctpost.com; @DougBonjour

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