HARTFORD, Conn. -- Kia Nurse's resume spoke for itself.
A two-time national champion. The 2015 Freshman of the Year. A 2016 all-league pick of the American Athletic Conference. A 2016 Olympian with Team Canada. The University of Connecticut women's basketball team's junior guard was the choice of AAC coaches as the league's preseason Player of the Year in October.
But in the opening two months of the regular season, Nurse has seen three Huskies selected as the AAC Player of the Week and she has not been one of them. Sophomores Katie Lou Samuelson and Napheesa Collier have been recognized twice apiece while junior Gabby Williams earned the first Player of the Week honor of her career Monday.
Meanwhile, all Nurse did in the Huskies' difficult December was play, perhaps, the best ball of her career.
"Everybody has stepped up in their own way and brought things they do really well to every practice and every game," Nurse said. "It's not a one-man show around here and it never has been. It's never something we have to do alone.
"Lou, Phees and Gabby have done a great job helping out. They haven't surprised me. I've seen it in practice. I've seen it playing for three years now. It's a different role now for all of us and some of them are new to it, but they have accepted the challenge and are doing great."
Nurse and No. 1 UConn are back in action Wednesday against East Carolina in an AAC game at the XL Center (SNY, 7 p.m.). The Huskies (13-0, 1-0 AAC) will be looking for their 89th consecutive win and set the stage for a showdown with No. 22 South Florida here next Tuesday night to attempt to tie their own NCAA-record winning streak.
East Carolina (9-5, 0-1) opened AAC play Saturday with a 61-45 home loss to Tulane, scoring a total of 10 points in the middle two quarters. Kristen Gaffney, a transfer from Vanderbilt, leads the Pirates in scoring (16.4) and rebounding (6.6), and is shooting 57.1 percent from the field.
UConn got the new year and league play started Sunday with its 84-48 rout of Central Florida in Orlando.
Nurse enters Wednesday averaging 13.6 points, which is 14th best in the AAC. She ranks in the league's top five in assists (fifth at 4.3), assist-to-turnover ratio (third, plus-2.1), 3-point shooting percentage (second to Samuelson at 44.6), free-throw percentage (fourth, 85.7) and minutes played (fifth at 34.2). She is 70 away from joining UConn's 1,000-point club. Her statistics don't take into account her usual solid defensive efforts.
But after five November games, all her numbers were down as she put pressure on herself with the departure of 2016 senior All-Americans Breanna Stewart, Moriah Jefferson and Morgan Tuck.
"Coming off of last year and who we graduated that it was naturally her obligation to do all that," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "It was very difficult for her. She tried to do way too much, more than she needed to do. I think she's settled down a little bit. Hopefully with each game we play she gets even more comfortable."
Nurse's turnaround started with a career-high 33 points against DePaul on Dec. 1. During the month that saw the Huskies play six of their seven games against clubs currently in the Associated Press top 25 -- including five in the top 15 -- the Hamilton, Ontario, native made her presence felt.
She averaged 18.3 points on 53.5 percent shooting along with 3.9 assists and an assist-to-turnover ratio of plus-2.1. The only game she didn't score in double figures was at Notre Dame on Dec. 7. All she did that night was hold Irish sophomore Marina Mabrey -- who torched UConn for 21 first-half points at Gampel Pavilion a year earlier -- without a field goal until 11 seconds remained. Nurse also helped limit Maryland standout Shatori-Walker Kimbrough to just 10 points in last Thursday's victory in College Park. Her calmness in the fourth quarter as the Terrapins made a run to cut what was a 19-point deficit to five also came through.
"I have a different role on every team," Nurse said. "But for a little while, I was just fighting myself on certain things. Now it's more like, 'Let the game come to you, flow with it and do what you can to help the team.'
"For me it has come more in practices. If I can string a couple practices together where I am consistent, find open people and make good reads, that helps me more than anything. Games can come and go and have such a long time between them sometimes. It is easier for me to get on a roll from practices."
Of course, having Samuelson, Collier, and Williams playing at All-American levels makes it easier. But Nurse has her job and she is doing it well.
"Kia is too good of a player to struggle for long," Auriemma said. "She's much too competitive to give up on herself. I just don't like when she thinks she has to do way more than we think she has to do. I don't know that Kia ever ... Hopefully she didn't think that her job was to lead the team in scoring, steals, assists and all that. Obviously, if those other three continue doing what they're doing right now, it makes everyone feel more comfortable."
One more statistic for Nurse: She has started 87 games at UConn, and the Huskies have won them all.
She had nine points and five assists Sunday at UCF. She played 29 minutes, the first time she's been under 30 since the DePaul game. On the defensive end, Nurse led the way as Knights' leading scorer Zykira Lewis was held to two points in the first half when the game was decided.
"I understand my role and that I have to be a vocal leader out there," Nurse said. "I understand there are bits and pieces and certain points of the game where it's more important than others. I'm starting to understand that really well and taking it into consideration every time I'm out there."