Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

HBO's inside look at UConn's program debuts tonight

The UConn women's basketball program has received an incredible amount of media attention over the years. Whether it was CPTV or more recently SNY serving as the regional broadcast partner, just about every game has been televised during the Huskies run to 11 national titles (although the Huskies first game in the American Athletic Conference tournament on Saturday will not be among those games).  There are those who think ESPN as the "UConn network". Add in the daily coverage from newspaper folks like me as well as the coverage from the UConn radio network which does all of the Huskies' games and just about everything you could ever want to know about the UConn program is already out there, right? Maybe not.

Tonight HBO will debut its series "UConn Huskies: The March to Madness" which provides an inside look at the UConn program. The hour-long episode begins at 10 a.m. with 30-minute segments following every Wednesday.

"The Huskies’ program is the gold standard in college basketball: outstanding leadership, a legacy of dedicated players and the ability to make history time and time again,” says Mike Antinoro, senior vice president, Programming and Production, IMG in a release promoting the project. "We are excited and honored to share their unique story in partnership with HBO."

Last month I cornered UConn coach Geno Auriemma and some of the players about the unprecedented amount of TV cameras following them around this season and that story ran the same night that the Huskies beat South Carolina for their NCAA all-division basketball record 100th win in a row.

"When it first presented itself as an opportunity, (he thought) do we really need more eyes on us every day in practice?" Auriemma said. "Do we need more cameras following us around? Do we really need our kids to answer even more questions about whatever it is they are doing? At the end of the day it became, 'I think this is a great story that we can tell.' It is a great opportunity for us to talk about UConn in general as a school and our role in what the university does, let people see what kind of kids that we have here and what we are doing.

"It comes at a price, they give up a little bit of their freedom but not much. We try to make it so nobody feels like anybody is intruding on them and after a while, they become a part of the furniture. You look around, you see a guy with a camera and you are like, 'OK.' Hopefully that is all it is and they don't feel like Big Brother (is everywhere) and they are being watched."
The players understand that coming to UConn means increased media attention but this year it seems like they couldn't tie their shoelaces without a camera filming the action.

"You are focused on what you are going to do on the basketball court," UConn junior forward Gabby Williams said. "It is really special because people get to see that we get the best players, people get to see finally what goes into being a part of this program. I have a lot of respect for that part, as far as the cameras always being around, it definitely takes some getting used to and there is no way to prepare yourself for that until you get here. Maybe some guys do get it right away but it is rare and there is a reason why the program is where it is, why so many cameras want to see what is going on, what the secret is."


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