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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Geno Auriemma has no objections to playing league tourney at Mohegan

According to a tweet by Hartford Courant columnist Jeff Jacobs earlier today, the American Athletic Conference could hold its women's basketball tournament at Mohegan Sun Arena.

UConn women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma didn't confirm the validity of the information although he did say the topic was raised earlier today. He certainly is on board with the possibility to playing the event at Mohegan.
                                                                                   (Associated Press photo)
UConn women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma laughs as he shakes hands
with William Clement (AKA Mark Twain) after being inducted into the
Connecticut Hall of Fame at the State Capitol on Wednesday.

"I think it is like anything," Auriemma said after he was inducted into the Connecticut Hall of Fame at the State Capitol. "I know people in the conference office have always been asked by the coaches and other administrators 'are there other options other than the XL Center and is the XL Center the best option?' Each year I believe the conference tries to go out and gauge what the interest level is and for I don't know how long, we have always kind of come back to the XL Center is the best place for us to have it. It is just today that somebody brought up the possibility of having it at Mohegan. Certainly there have been a lot of great events there and obviously they are in the event business.

"Given the fact that the league is so new and we are kind of geographically challenged so to speak in terms of finding some place in the middle, I would hope that this is (Connecticut as a host site for the AAC womens tournament) viewed the same way that Madison Square Garden was viewed by the Big East and I would think both on the men's and women's side Connecticut is going to play a prominent role going forward on where the tournament is going to be."

Auriemma, who owns a restaurant at Mohegan Sun, downplays any potential backlash from hosting a college conference tournament inside a casino.

"There is no sports wagering at Mohegan and as far as the other aspects of the casino, if high school administrators are not worried about bringing high school athletes to play in the tournament ..." Auriemma said. "I am sure for a lot of people it is always going to be a concern and it is always going to be a question but I believe the fact that there has been both high school and college games played there I think that aspect at some point is going to go away."

There are some other topics Auriemma discussed which I will get to later. One of them is a lighter basketball schedule load from the end of the season to the start of official practice now that he no longer is the U.S. senior women's national team coach. However, Auriemma admits it doesn't feel like he has all of this spare time on his hands.

"The worst part is that everybody knows that so everybody wants a piece of that so in some ways because they know you don't have a lot of commitments there is an unbelievable push of 'we need Coach Auriemma to do this,'" Auriemma said. "I look at the month of May and there are three (free) days. When the White House asked us 'give us some days when we would be available to go down there' I think Sarah (Darras, UConn's Director of Women's Basketball Administration) had three days available during the month of May. Part of it is I am finally getting a chance to take a vacation for the first time in a long time but just an awful lot of things and 90 percent of them I enjoy doing."

Among the events on Auriemma's schedule is a basketball camp he is set to work with legendary former Indiana men's basketball coach Bobby Knight later this week.

There is still no date set for a trip to the White House when the Huskies can be honored for winning the program's eighth national title. It is possible it could happen in May and likely would have been had the Boston Marathon bombings not occurred. Obviously the aftermath has put something like celebrating national championship teams on the back burner.

After the Hall of Fame ceremony, Auriemma and the Huskies were honored on "Husky Day" at the State Capitol. Auriemma and assistant coaches Marisa Moseley and Shea Ralph were in attendance as where all were all eight returning UConn players. Associate head coach and senior guard Kelly Faris were the only ones missing from the event.



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