Ashley Battle – University of Connecticut

University of Connecticut red-shirt sophomore Ashley Battle’s on-court identity is as mercurial as her game. At six feet, she’s not quite tall enough to play the post, yet lacks the ball handling skills expected of guards. Instead, the Pittsburgh native has forged her own identity, using her tremendous quickness, defensive ferocity and lightening speed to energize her teammates and fluster opponents. Initially a starter, Battle now comes off the bench, allowing her to dissect the opposing team and plan her attack.

“You’re looking for weaknesses,” explained Battle. “If they’re careless when they pass the ball, maybe you step in and get a steal. If they’re always driving right and pulling up, you want to take that away. I look for how they’re playing people defensively and where I can take advantage.”

Battle’s biggest weapon – her speed — has also been her biggest challenge. “Sometimes I’m too fast for myself,” she admitted with a laugh. “I don’t have any brakes. My freshman year, I would just go out there and run around like a chicken with their head cut off. I’d get tired really easily, and I wouldn’t know why.” Experience and proper medication – last year it was discovered she had asthma – has taught the Business Major to pick and choose when and where to exert her energy. Her efforts bore fruit this season, earning Battle Big East Defensive Player of the Year honors.

As a young UConn team entered the post-season, Battle, 20, brings much needed tournament experience. Sidelined by an elbow injury, she witnessed UConn’s 2001 run to the Final Four, and participated in the undefeated run to the 2002 National Championship. “Last year,” she reflected, “I knew nobody could beat us. This year, we’re beatable,” A loss in the Big East Tournament not only proved that – ending a 31-0 run – but also inspired whispers that UConn might be taking winning for granted.

“Honestly,” said Battle, “I don’t pay much attention to what people are saying, because I know it comes from within us. We control our destiny right now. We have a lot to prove. We’re not taking the tournament lightly,” added Battle. “We are the defending champions, and we’re going to act like it.”

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