Focused on 'getting through the wall'

ByGabby Williams as told to Sean Hurd | espnW ESPN logo
Tuesday, June 5, 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 the 5-foot-11 forward's next "View from the Sky" on espnW.

CHICAGO -- I feel like we're going all the time in the WNBA.

In college, the season opens in November and you can say, "OK, by February, I'll have this down." It's not like that here; we don't have the time. It's hard on your body, it's hard mentally and emotionally. It's straining.

One of my friends in the NBA said, "I know you're hitting the wall right now." He told me after two months I was going to wish I had a 9-to-5 job. And one day I was laying in my bed thinking I don't know if I could do this for a living. But he said I'll get past it and never look back -- just get through that wall.

At the same time, I'm looking at my overseas deals, my FIBA stuff. This is really never going to end. Not only are we trying to play 40 games in three months, but I possibly have a nine-month season when this ends. Even when we had stacked games at UConn, the starters were out by the end of the third quarter. I'm dead after every game and want to go back to my bed and sleep for 12 hours.

It's a shock.

May 23 vs. Atlanta

After winning two straight, the Sky dropped a lopsided game to Atlanta 81-63. Williams totaled four points and four rebounds, struggling in a frontcourt matchup with 6-foot-3 all-star Elizabeth Williams, who had 11 points, six rebounds and six assists.

That loss was frustrating because we had come off of a huge win against New York and beat Indiana by a lot. It was a huge confidence killer. I thought, "Dang, how could I go from this high to this low that fast given how well we had played?" That shows how this league is: It's anybody's game, any night.

Elizabeth gave me the most trouble. She was so strong and physical and kind of had her way with me.

I want to get to a point where people know me as a post defender. That's going to be hard to do when you're not even 6 foot. I know teams are going to try and exploit me if my post defense looks soft. I'm going to have to initiate the contact. It's going to be about me hitting them first and making sure that I am putting them in the positions that I want them to be in.

May 25 at Seattle

The Sky led by as many as 14 points in the fourth quarter but lost 95-91 in overtime. Williams tallied seven points and two rebounds.

The Seattle game was pretty heartbreaking. It's difficult to lose a lead like that, then try to look back and see what we all could have done better. It was one of those games where one play could change the whole momentum of the game. I'm looking back to see how I could've been more reliable, what I could've done differently.

Coach Amber Stocks has been on me when I need to be running harder, or rebound, or go after everything. Sometimes I'll think, "Someone else can get that" or "I don't need to run hard in transition." She said, "You are faster than all these forwards, you can get all these rebounds -- that's the piece you need to bring to this team." She's not after me to do anything I don't already know how to do. She's holding me accountable all the time. She doesn't want me to settle.

June 1 vs. Connecticut

The Sky, without Stefanie Dolson (foot) and Allie Quigley (hip), suffer their worst loss of the season in a 110-72 blowout to the Sun. Williams scored six points, grabbed five rebounds and had four assists. Williams, who made 1 of 12 3-point attempts in her UConn career, also hit her first 3-pointer in the WNBA.

I can't remember the last time that I got my butt whooped like that. It was bizarre being in a game and reaching a point where I knew there was no shot to win. I haven't been in that situation in a long time.

I don't think I've lost three games in a row since playing AAU. That's as many games that I lost at Connecticut over four years. I don't want it to be a thing. Even if that's what happens in the WNBA or whatever, I don't want to accept that as normal.

I knew that I was going to be guarding Alyssa Thomas and I knew that with Stef being out our post defense was going to be really important. But geez, I did not expect Thomas to be that strong. There was one time she did a post move and put her shoulder into me and I literally flew back. It caught me so off guard.

I think most of my 3-point battle is mental. I passed up a few open 3s and my teammates said, "What are you doing? Shoot that."

I feel the confidence when I'm in rhythm, everything falls -- my feet get into place, my hips get squared. I'm just trying to have that consistency. I think that shot will fall more.

June 3 vs. Las Vegas

The Sky trailed by as many as 15 points but rallied behind a third-quarter run to defeat the Aces 95-90, despite missing Quigley and Dolson for a second game. Williams totaled six points, 10 rebounds, two assists and two blocks.

Vegas was good minutes for me. I got my confidence up and was on the court in crunch time, having to make big plays when it mattered. It was fun to fight back, that was something new for me. All of this is really new to me.

I've been trying to adjust to getting contested harder than I'm used to. I'm going up more timid, trying to avoid contact rather than go through it. Against Vegas, I missed a wide-open layup. I don't think I did that during my four years at Connecticut. One of the assistants asked, "What would Coach Auriemma have said when that happens?" and I said, "I don't know, I've never missed a layup that wide open before." I'm going to have to be stronger and more deliberate when I shoot the ball. I think it will come.

Turning defense into offense is one of the best things I've been able to do. It's a style of play I love and that I'm good at. I was pretty timid to do that at first. Coach Stocks gave me the green light but I don't want to turn it over. I think with the more reps I get, I'm feeling better about it.

Courtney Vandersloot and Jamierra Faulkner will tell me, "Hey, just go, we love that." It's giving me more confidence. I'm starting to see my teammates like Diamond DeShields look to run whenever I get a defensive rebound.

It's been fun to play with Diamond. I think we are building our chemistry every game. We get a lot of reps together in practice. We're building a relationship that makes us more comfortable with each other both on and off the court.

I accidentally elbowed Diamond at the end of the game. That's when our chemistry wasn't so great. When it happened, I was like, "Who just ran into me?" And then I looked at her like, "What are you doing?" After the game she was talking about it. I told her it was her fault. We had to laugh about it after.

Doggy day care

Stef Dolson put me on to a (pet-sitting) app called Rover for when we're on the road and I can't watch Halle Berry. You find someone close to your location, they drop in and then they feed her. Everyone on our team has a dog and two of our managers always come and check the dogs. So I said, "Look, Halle Berry is super easy. Feed her, play with her and she'll be good. She's an independent woman. She's fine."

I was giving Stef a hard time because I saw on Instagram last year she had a themed birthday party for her poodle, Theo. I told her this is how extra I aspire to be in life. I can't wait until Halle Berry turns one. It's got to be a Halle Berry movie, maybe "Catwoman."

New spins and old jams

The Internet: "Come over"

Prince: "Adore"

Jorja Smith: "February 3rd"

Jhene Aiko feat. Swae Lee: "Sativa"

"Sativa" is one of those songs where, when I'm 60-something at a barbecue, that song is going to play and it's going to feel good. One of those "what you kids know about this?" songs.

Pride Month kicks

Kyrie 4 "Be True"

I've been getting a lot of clout from those shoes, it's ridiculous. My Instagram tag page is all pictures of those shoes. Kyrie Irving actually commented on one of the posts with flame emojis and I was like, "Yo, I got you bro!"

You didn't know I liked superheroes?

You didn't know I liked superheroes?

It's really funny being in an environment where nobody knows me at all off the court. I have a pair of "Pulp Fiction" tattoos on my Achilles and our trainer saw it one day. I told her that's my favorite movie and she said, "I feel like I know nothing about you."

There's so many random things about me. I love anime, comics, astrology, figure skating. I got to give it in doses, though. I come off more introverted then I am. When people get to know me, sometimes they tell me that they thought I didn't like them. No, I was probably feeling you out before I released the Gabby on you.

Best thing I saw online this week

Memes of J.R. Smith. Those never get old.

I think as a player I give him less slack. Anyone else who isn't a player and hasn't been in that situation is saying, "Oh, maybe it's a lot of stress." The fact that he was absent-minded at that time of the game, as a player, everyone wants to be in that moment, everyone wants to get that rebound. I can't cut him any slack. I'm sorry, J.R. Warriors in four.