UNCASVILLE, Conn. -- It's been a season of change for Gabby Williams -- just from spring to summer.
The two-time All-American and national champion at the University of Connecticut helped the Huskies to an in-state record of 80-0 during her four years at UConn, including 16-0 at Mohegan Sun Arena.
Heck, the Huskies didn't lose a game in regulation time in her college career.
The 5-foot-11 forward from Sparks, Nevada, knew that would all change the moment she was selected with the fourth overall pick in the WNBA draft by the Chicago Sky. By virtue of the Sky's 82-75 loss to the Connecticut Sun at the casino Sunday, Chicago (11-20) was mathematically eliminated from playoff contention with three games to go.
"It was an adjustment coming from a program where we lost just three games and winning was expected," Williams said. "It's hard. That adjustment is hard. The mindset is on rebuilding this team."
The Sky do have quality guards in Courtney Vandersloot and Allie Quigley, a national team candidate center in UConn graduate Stefanie Dolson and athletic wings in Williams and fellow rookie Diamond DeShields. But after starting the season with two wins, they dropped nine out of 10 to fall off the pace and never could catch up.
They beat the Sun 97-86 in Chicago on Friday, tying a league single-game record with 35 assists, including 15 by Vandersloot.
"When we're all playing together and we're all moving the ball and everyone is on the same page, I think we're unstoppable," Williams said. "There is so much talent on this team and it's a matter of putting it all together."
That will have to wait till next year as the Sky will again be in the draft lottery.
One thing that did make Williams feel at home Sunday was the warm reception she received from the announced crowd of 7,687 when the starters were introduced. She finished with five points -- including a 3-pointer that matched her four-year total at UConn but was her seventh of the season with Chicago -- along with a rebound and two steals in 19 minutes.
In 31 games with 27 starts as a rookie, she is averaging 7.3 points on 43.7 percent shooting from the floor, 4.3 rebounds and 1.7 steals in 22.8 minutes.
It's been a season of adjustments.
"Just the pace of the game and the physicality of it," Williams said. "Everyone in the league is just as athletic as you and just as strong as you. You have to be smarter."
Williams has formed a bond with DeShields, the Tennessee graduate who was taken one spot ahead of Williams in the draft. She also has Dolson, and though they never played together in Storrs they are Huskies' family.
"Diamond and I are both getting more comfortable with each other on and off the court," Williams said. "We're roommates. We're there for each other. We can talk about anything with each other.
"Stef has certainly taken me under her wing. She knows what it's like to come from UConn. It's been good to have her with me."
Williams' UConn career ended March 30 when the Huskies lost to Notre Dame in the NCAA Final Four in Columbus, Ohio.
In 149 games, she had 1,582 points, 1,007 rebounds, 482 assists, 305 steals and 103 blocks. She is one of seven members of UConn's 1,000-1,000 club, and she and three-time Wade Trophy winner Maya Moore are the only Huskies to complete their careers with more than 1,500 points, 1,000 rebounds, 400 assists, 300 steals and 100 blocked shots. She was a two-time WBCA All-American and her No. 15 is in the Huskies of Honor at Gampel Pavilion. She was also the 2017 WBCA national Defensive Player of the Year.
The lessons learned at UConn have helped.
"I would have these big games at UConn," Williams said, "and Coach (Geno Auriemma) would always say, 'You did this because of how hard you were working and how you're everywhere and your energy. When your energy is mediocre, you're mediocre.' One of the things I'm trying to bring to the league is keep my energy high, and when I'm playing with a lot of competitiveness and edge that's when I'm at my best. I try to bring that every day to Chicago and I think that it was what will keep me in the league."
Down the stretch of the college season, Williams struggled with hip issues and she missed the American Athletic Conference tournament semifinal game with Cincinnati with them. The time between the end of UConn's season and the opening of WNBA training camps gave her a chance to rest but the condensed schedule due to the FIBA World Cup next month has been challenging.
"It's been hectic," Williams said. "And the travel … We used to charter at UConn. That's also taken a toll.
"I'm doing well. We do a good job with recovery and watching our diet and things like that. I'm making sure I take care of myself."
With her degree from UConn in hand, what does she do with her newfound free time? Sleep, she says with a laugh. She does do a diary for espnW about her rookie year, saying it's like a conversation she's having with her fans.
While the playoff race is over, Williams is in the thick of the race for the league lead in steals. She shares the lead with fellow Husky Moore of the Minnesota Lynx at 1.71 per game with Los Angeles' Nneka Ogwumike third at 1.56.
"It's not something that I think about," Williams said. "It's more of a highlight about how aggressive I can be, the kind of defensive player I want to be."
The Sky have three games left, starting with Tuesday's road game with Minnesota and finishing with a home-and-home against the Indiana Fever.
Williams said she has not finalized plans yet to play overseas during the WNBA offseason but is staying positive as she looks ahead.
"I know what to expect," Williams said. "I know what I can be good at, and I know what this team needs from me. I'm looking forward to the future."