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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Getting challenging games in holiday tourney no easy task

In a perfect world UConn would be squaring off against teams like Stanford, Old Dominion and Duke as was the case six years ago in the Paradise Jam. Even as recently as three years ago LSU out of the Southeastern Conference came to Storrs for the 2010 World Vision Classic.

There are no such challenges for top-ranked UConn in the three games in the Basketball Hall of Fame Women's Challenge this weekend. The Huskies rolled past Boston University and Monmouth by a total of 112 points. Next up is a St. Bonaventure which needed late offensive bursts to escape wins against both teams.

In today's post-game press conference I asked Auriemma if the Huskies get anything out of blowing out three overmatched opponents in three days.

"You always get something out of everything, very rarely do you walk away and say thee was no point to it all," Auriemma said. "Unfortunately it doesn't always work out that way and you get teams that want to come here and they don't want to come unless they know they have a chance to win at least two games, that narrows the field a little bit and all of these other events that have popped up all over country but off the mainland, it seems like anybody who wants to go some place around Thanksgiving can find a place to go.

"It is not as easy as you think, scheduling. If you could go to the same place every year but when they put those four-year restrictions (for tournaments outside the continental U.S.) on it, it starts to limit where you can go and what you can do and when people fund out you are in the tournament they go 'I don't want to play' so you have have that problem too.

"It does make it very difficult on the coaches, on the players, on everybody. It is one of those, you agree 'yeah it would be great to play in the Hall of Fame Classic. It would be great to play three home games. It is great after the stretch that we had to be home for three day and it is an exempt event.' You agree it and you put in the time and at least one team that is at a high level."

In recent years even the to tournaments in the tropical locations are not drawing the same level of competition. Last year the Huskies barely broke a sweat in wins over Wake Forest, Marist and Purdue at the Paradise Jam in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The only options would be to bypass these exempt tournaments and set up more challenging games but that would result in fewer games being played.

"The way it has come to right now  is you either need to be willing to play everybody home and home where sometimes it makes sense and sometimes it doesn't or you've got be willing to pay teams to come and play you which sometimes makes sense and sometimes it doesn't and the people who are  going to take money to come play you aren't going to be much better than the teams we are playing right now," Auriemma said. "The really good teams you play home and home, that does a lot of damage to some of the big TV games you are trying to play because then there is not going to be any room for them. It is always a balancing act how many road games you can schedule every year. Our friend (DePaul women's basketball coach) Doug Bruno thinks there should be an NCAA rule that you have to play as many road games as you play home games. He said everybody in the country should be make to play the same number of home games as road games. I said 'yeah, I think we will get to that point when we have the 9-foot rims."


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