Ashley Valley already has her hands full trying to get acclimated to college basketball. So imagine what flashed through her mind when a teammate tried to change the rules on her late in Monday night's game against Wake Forest.
Seems Ashley Battle had a momentary flashback to high school, where the 10-second halfcourt rule is in effect. No such rule exists in college, but that didn't stop Battle from exhorting a startled Valley to beat the clock.
``It was so funny,'' Valley said Thursday. ``I was thinking, because it wasn't that long ago where I had to get it over. I looked at her and I was like, `No, I don't need to get it over.'''
On the bench, the UConn starters had a good chuckle at Battle and Valley's expense. Recently, the starters have had lots of time to watch the bench in action. And with Ball State tonight, St. John's Tuesday and Holy Cross next Thursday, Valley should continue to see plenty of second-half mop-up duty.
``If we can get her those kinds of minutes, that's great,'' UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. ``Because the situation that she's in right now, every time she comes in, it's with some All-Americans or I'm putting her in when there's no pressure because the game's pretty much already been decided. She's kind of actually in a really good situation.''
The freshman point guard from Colchester, Vt., played 13 minutes against Rhode Island Saturday, then played 20 Monday. She scored five points in each game, and had five assists against Wake.
``I feel a lot more comfortable,'' Valley said. ``I think the Wake Forest game helped me out a lot, getting so many minutes. The more I play, the more comfortable I'm getting.''
Playing against Sue Bird every day in practice is paying dividends as well. Bird said Valley is continuing a freshman point guard tradition.
``[Assistant coach] Tonya [Cardoza] always busts on her because she copies everything I do,'' Bird said. ``If I come down and run a specific play, the next time, she'll go down and run the same exact thing. I know Rita [Williams] had to do that with Jen [Rizzotti] and I kind of did that with Rita, because she was a graduate assistant. I kind of watched what she did. Hopefully, she can do the same. I definitely try to help her out.''
The other player most interested in helping Valley learn the ropes is her older sister, Morgan. To an extent, the sophomore acts as an extra assistant coach, with the responsibility for one pupil.
``Morgan is worse than an assistant coach because of the things she's hard on Ashley about,'' Swin Cash said. ``She sees the potential of where Ashley can be at, and like any sister, she's going to push her. Any time she makes a mistake, she's going to say things to Ashley that no one on this team or any coach can possibly say. They have that kind of communication.''
Said Morgan Valley: ``I don't really need to say much. She probably has to relax more with the plays and stuff. I know how hard it is to grasp in that first year. If she needs any help, I try to tell her.''
For now, Ashley Valley knows the areas where she needs to improve.
``Probably not to turn the ball over and just try to get a lot of assists and help other people out,'' she said.
``It's a lot more of reading your teammates than it was in high school. That's how it's changed. I've learned how to read my teammates more and play off them.''Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times