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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Friday, March 21, 2014

NCAA headed back to the future

Few things annoy a coach than having to play a tournament game on the court of a lower seeded team.

It could happen this year if second-seeded Stanford and No. 7 Iowa State win its first-round games and the deal is the same for Louisville and West Virginia, who could face host teams Iowa and LSU in the second round. Adding insult to injury for West Virginia is that a regional semifinal game at Louisville could be waiting if the Mountaineers get that far.

It has been an issue that has been crying for a change for years and apparently, people have been listening as beginning next year the NCAA Division I women's tournament will revert to the old way of doing things with the top 16 seeds serving as subregional hosts.

While UConn will get to play its opening game in the state of Connecticut for the 24th time in 26 NCAA appearances and haven't had much experience playing true road games in the NCAA tournament, Geno Auriemma is still happy about this format.

"You earn the right to be at home and I am pretty sure that every coach is OK with that if you finish in the top four, the teams you are probably going to playing, generally it won't matter where that game was played," Auriemma said.

The NCAA is also moving away from having teams host regionals, something which returned on a one-year basis as No. 1 seed Notre Dame, No. 2 seed Stanford, No. 3 Louisville and No. 4 seed Nebraska could play at home in the regionals.

UConn is no stranger to these types of scenarios as the Huskies played a regional in the state of Connecticut four times since 1995.

"It was pretty commonplace and that was the way they did it," Auriemma said. "We kind of broke through that mold of the same team going to the regionals every year. Going back to '91 the regional was in Philadelphia and there wasn't a home team and we won and we went to the Final Four. When they were going to have them at neutral sites, I was in favor of that. I came out with a statement that it is hard enough to beat us in Bridgeport much less come to Storrs to play us to go to the Final Four. First and second round, I can understand so when the bids went out (for the regionals) I said 'we are not bidding on it.' I don't believe in it, I don't believe it is fair and I told our administration I don't want to do it so we didn't."

Next year Albany, Greensboro, Oklahoma City and Sacramento will serve as regional sites.

"It was just a one-year deal with trying to shake things up a little bit," Auriemma said of returning to teams hosting regionals. "I think we've got to find what works for us and not try to be like the men. When we went to domes and we played in front of 30,000 people in San Antonio and  played in another dome in Georgia and there were 30,000 people. I think we got a little carried away with ourselves. I don't know that we should be playing in those kinds of buildings and we don't necessarily need to be playing here in Storrs but we do have to find four cities that are hotbeds potentially for women's basketball and we have to give them an opportunity to host regionals and give it to them for a few years at a time rather than just one year deal, let them build it, let them work it, let them grow it, they know we are coming and the whole city is behind you. I think we need to do that instead of taking the model from the men, I think we have to take the model from baseball the way they do it and softball the way they do it. I hope we moving in that direction."

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