Uncasville – Courtney Williams admits she had no idea what kind of a hot streak she was on during Saturday’s home opener against the Atlanta Dream.
A second-year guard for the Connecticut Sun, Williams came off the bench to make her first seven shots from the field before finally missing a difficult spinning shot in traffic.
“Ohhh, my Kyrie Irving,” she joked when told of the shot that broke her streak.
Before that miss, however, Williams was rolling.
“I actually was not aware at all,” Williams said when asked if she had any idea that she was 7 of 7 to start the game. “You get into a zone and try to ride the wave as long as you can.”
Morgan Tuck knows all about watching Williams ride waves. When Tuck was at UConn, she grew accustomed to seeing the former South Florida guard put up big numbers against the Huskies, including twice in the American Athletic Conference Championship game at Mohegan Sun Arena.
“She definitely looked like she did when she was in college that last game,” Tuck said with a laugh of Williams, who finished with 18 points against the Dream. “In college, the expectation was that we had to stop Courtney. That was our goal. Even when that was our goal, she would still have really good games.”
Naturally, Tuck prefers to have Williams on her side.
“It’s nice to have her,” she said. “First, she’s a really fun person to be around. And then when you’re out there playing with her, she makes it fun and enjoyable. She’s taking the game seriously, but she knows how to have fun no matter what, and she makes a lot of shots that no one else on our team can make.”
Selected by Phoenix with the eighth overall pick in the 2016 WNBA Draft, Williams finished her career at USF ranked second in points (2,304), third in rebounds (931) and sixth in assists (318) and seventh in blocks (93). But on a talent-laden Phoenix team, Williams had limited opportunities to play, and was eventually dealt to the Sun in a trade that sent Kelsey Bone to the Mercury.
She joined the Sun in midseason, and appeared in 19 games. She scored in double figures seven times with Connecticut, including a career-high 20 points at New York on September 9th. She also had a career-high seven rebounds twice, and finished with at least five rebounds in eight games.
While she showed plenty of promise, adjusting to a new team and system midway through the season was a challenge. After an offseason playing internationally in Turkey, she was far more settled when she returned to the same teammates and system in April. And with starting guard Alex Bentley sidelined because of an ankle injury, Williams was able to play more meaningful minutes in the preseason.
“I think she came back confident after her strong second half,” Sun head coach and general manager Curt Miller said. “She came into camp, and with Alex hurt and missing all of training camp, she had to get all the reps with the first team. I just felt she came in ready and knows what to expect and the plays we run for her and our system and our culture and I think she is ready to impact us this year. She came in with the mindset that she has a chance to be one of the most productive players off the bench in this league.”
Williams has clear goals for this season.
“I want to be more consistent, that’s one of the main things I’m trying to do this year is be more dependable,” she said, adding that she worked on her three-point shot in Turkey. “A lot of teams, when they scout me, I’m known as a (mid-range) jump shooter. So I worked on my outside game, so they have to respect that as well.”
Of course, Williams has plenty of experience earning the respect of opponents. When she was at USF, she always appreciated the polite applause she received from UConn fans, and many of those same people are now cheering her on with the Sun.
“Oh yeah for sure,” Williams said when asked if she hears the crowd support. “That is definitely uplifting. It builds my confidence to know the fans are on my side, and looking for me, and depending on me, and have faith in me to do something when I get out there.”