For all of the attention that UConn guard Bria Hartley has gotten as a scorer lately, her career-high 11 assists against Temple on Tuesday night offers occasion to discuss what she has done as a ball handler lately.
Carl Adamec of the Journal Inquirer provided a brief breakdown of how she picked up those assists in the process of recording her first career double-double.
"I've come close before, but I didn't think I would get one," Hartley said.
Hartley assisted on Stefanie Dolson's game-opening basket. Her next six assists came off hoops by Breanna Stewart, who had a career-high 37 points. She added assists to Dolson and Stewart and hit double figures for the first time by setting up a Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis layup with 6:20 left. Her final assist came on Tierney Lawlor's 3-pointer with 3:07 to go.
It's worth noting that none of her assists resembled anything from a Ticha Penicheiro highlight reel - all 11 assists against Temple came from making the right pass to the right place at the right time. And UConn's precision offensive execution - in terms of players moving without the ball to get to the right spots and, as Hartley notes, having Breanna Stewart as a teammate - and defensive pressure have certainly contributed to her recent run of assists.
Yet the Temple game highlights an understated aspect of her game amid all the excitement about her renewed scoring efficiency.
As reported in The Day, she had 16 assists in the previous three games as she was having the hottest scoring streak of her career. Yet it's not even the assists on their own that make Hartley's recent run most impressive but moreso what she hasn't done: with her 11 assists on Tuesday night, Hartley now has 27 assists and just six turnovers in her last four games. As a 5-foot-8 WNBA draft prospect, it's that ratio of assists to turnovers that's most impressive.
Many people reserve these numbers for point guards and Hartley is clearly not UConn's lead ball handler - sophomore Moriah Jefferson is doing an excellent job of handling those duties so some might not see. But John Hollinger once pointed out the importance of pure point rating - a metric he designed to replace assist-to-turnover ratio, which doesn't account well for the risk of making turnovers that comes with actively looking to create plays - for every NBA draft prospect. The same, or something similar, holds for WNBA draft prospects: college players with pure point ratings well above average tend to at least find their way to roster spots as pros, regardless of position.
In that Temple game, Hartley had a pure point rating of 16.15. Over the past four games, her PPR was 9.52. Through 22 games thus far this season, Hartley has a career-high pure point rating of 4.27. Those are numbers, regardless of sample size, that many WNBA point guard hopefuls failed to achieve. Although there's no question that Hartley is a scorer at heart, the fact that she's distributing so efficiently at her size makes her an even stronger prospect as a combo guard who may be able to help run a team's offense.
For more on draft prospects, check out our 2014 WNBA Draft prospect watch storystream.