'Everything you learned at UConn, just throw it away for a second'

ByGabby Williams as told to Sean Hurd | espnW ESPN logo
Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Editor's note: Former UConn star Gabby Williams, the No. 4 pick in the 2018 WNBA draft, details her rookie season with the Chicago Sky. Check back in two weeks for Williams' next "View from the Sky" installment on espnW.

CHICAGO -- Preseason did not go great for me.

My shots weren't falling. It felt like there was a lid on the basket. Defensively, I wasn't doing what I normally do. I didn't feel nervous, but maybe that's why I played so badly. Chris Dailey (UConn associate head coach) told me before I left, "Don't let anything come to you, go get it." I think in the preseason games I was waiting for things to come to me. Preseason was kind of to get all of that out of the way.

Tina Charles gave me some advice after a preseason game. She said, "Focus on doing one thing really well and then just kind of build off that each day." Our first game I was really focused on rebounding and then when I got rhythm with that I focused on cutting hard and on my defense. I think that if I keep building onto that then my rhythm will come a lot easier.

In our last preseason game at Minnesota, I guarded Maya Moore for a few possessions.

I was like, "Oh, OK, all right, this is happening." She tried to post me up one time and I just remember thinking, "If she catches the ball right now it's going to be really embarrassing for me and whatever happens." I think I had just gotten crossed by Seimone Augustus the possession before that ended up on a highlight reel. They tried to throw it into Maya and I ran around her and stole it -- but that whole time I was thinking, "If she gets this ball, I'm done."

Playing against these players is a feeling of completion: I am playing against my idols and against people who I learned the game from. Now it's about how I get onto their level. How do I get people in this next group when they step up, to have to think about that when they guard me?

All of the Sky vets are vocal and supportive, and that helps me a lot. Alex Montgomery is really good at picking out the little things. Allie Quigley has been super encouraging and always pulls me aside and lets me know what I need to do or how I can contribute more.

I kept getting in trouble in practice from our shell drill. Everything we did at UConn, we do the opposite here. Stef Dolson was funny; she pulled me aside and said, "I know exactly what you're doing. Everything you learned at UConn, just throw it away for a second." That was a hard adjustment for me.

Learning to play with a new group has been easier because of what I learned at UConn. We play such team basketball at UConn that that was the first thing I thought of when I got to Chicago: How do I jell with this team? Who are the people I need to find? Where do people like the ball? I learned very quickly that I need to try and get Allie open all the time. I know when I need to stay low and let Stef go one-on-one, or if I need to come help her. The team moves the ball so well that it hasn't been that hard of a transition.

May 19 at Indiana

The Sky won their season opener 82-64. Williams had six rebounds, two steals and four points on 2-for-7 shooting from the field.

Before our first two regular-season games, I started to feel those butterflies and feel excited. I went and got it. It was tough to get thrown into the fire and guard a vet like Candice Dupree when we played Indiana. I wouldn't say she's fun to guard, but it was fun to say that I got to guard her. I made some good plays on her. She made a lot more good plays on me. It was a good welcome to the league.

May 20 vs. New York

Chicago improved to 2-0 with a 80-76 victory. Williams scored 12 points on 5-for-7 shooting, with two rebounds and three steals. Defensively, she matched up against the likes of 6-foot-1 Marissa Coleman and 6-6 Mercedes Russell.

I totally thought my "guard the big guy" days were over after UConn. But hey, that's how I made my money at UConn, so why stop doing something that I'm good at? It has definitely been tough. Almost every "4" in this league can shoot. That's very different. I'm used to guarding people who I could play off of and let them come to me or pick them. Everyone is talented here, so you have to play really solid defense. I can't gamble as much as I could before. It's a new challenge for me, but it'll make me a better defender overall.

It was weird playing against Kia Nurse on Sunday. Since the game was so intense, it wasn't as hard to leave the teammate thing in the past and our competitive spirits just kind of took over. In the second quarter, I was guarding her in transition and she got me to bite on a fake on the right block (watch).

I was so mad. Kia knows the scout on me, she knew I wanted to block that shot. I know she knew. I could hear CD in the back of my head screaming. "Stay down!" and I was like, "Oh my god, it's a frikkin' flashback." We're going to see each other a lot like that now. I'm sure the weirdness and awkwardness of it will become normal. It's just so different.

Speaking of familiar faces, Napheesa Collier came to Chicago last week -- that was so fun! She was here training and I went and got a workout in with her. I was so excited. She's already picking my brain about what it's like. It was fun to give Phees tips and advice and for her to ask me questions, and then for us just to gossip and talk about everything.

Kicks worn tossing first pitch at White Sox game

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I didn't realize how far the mound is! They told me I didn't have to throw from the mound, and I was like, "Nah, I'm throwing off the mound." The throw went straight but ended a little low. It made it to the mitt and over the plate, though.

Me, myself and "Deadpool 2"

After the White Sox game, I drove to the theater near my apartment and went by myself to the premier. I bought my movie ticket while I was at the game. I was the only person in the entire theater. I still haven't missed a Marvel movie on opening night!

It was weird. I walked into the theater and was like, "Dang my life is sad." I really enjoyed it, it was really funny. I think the first one was better, though. I loved the references to the old X-men movies. It's funny that the guy who plays the Cable in this movie played Thanos, too.

Using an Avengers style rating system: On a level of Hawkeye to Captain America, it was an Iron Man.

Last TV show binge

"Dear White People"

"My 600-lb Life"

One of my friends from back home has been watching "My 600-lb Life" and got to me start watching. All of my teammates are like, "Gabby can you please watch something else?" I'll talk about it like, "Man, I can't wait to get back to my apartment and watch 'My 600-lb Life.'"

Opening day spins

"No Time" by Playboi Carti feat Gunna

"Bubblin" by Anderson .Paak

"Yes Indeed" by Lil Baby feat. Drake

"Blimp" by Louis Cole

I got this song "Blimp" from watching "Dear White People." It's such a weird song, but I've had it on replay. It's so random, but when it came on, I knew I liked it.