In late July, it was reported that the University of Connecticut had interest in playing home games in different venues aside from the XL Center in Hartford and its on-campus arena (Gampel Pavilion) in Storrs. Last week, sources confirmed that playing a game at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport was all but a done deal.
Prior to making an official announcement, UConn must finalize their contract with the XL Center, which plays host to many of the major non-conference and league games during the season. According to Chris Ellsbery of the Connecticut Post: “The WBA has been in talks with UConn for a while now to bring the Huskies to Bridgeport. But until recently, both sides could only talk due to an ‘exclusivity clause’ in UConn’s contract with Hartford’s XL Center, which stated UConn was not allowed to play at any other state venue except the XL Center and Gampel Pavilion in Storrs.”
UConn athletic director Warde Manuel reiterated Elssbery’s sentiment:
“We have to ensure what we’re doing with the XL (Center) is set before we know what we’re going to do with any other venues in the state. We’re going to start selling basketball season tickets in August, so we want this (where we are playing) to be resolved ASAP. And everybody’s working on it, so we should have resolution here soon.”
Men’s head coach Kevin Ollie didn’t comment on the prospects of playing an American Athletic Conference game away from home, but women’s coach Geno Auriemma is a big fan of the move. The women have played in Bridgeport multiple times over the years during the NCAA Tournament, and Auriemma has made some friends down in the area as a result:
“My own personal opinion is we can sit where we are and have people come to us or we can take another step and go to where they are, And I’m a firm believer that’s a good way to sell our product. It’s a good way to expose who we are and continue to grow our brand. I’ve made quite a lot of friends during my short visits here…We’ve made an awful lot of fans here. They’ve made our program feel welcome.”
In a region and state where both UConn men’s and women’s basketball largely dominates the interest of college hoops fans, expanding its brand to different parts of the Nutmeg state can only help in giving alums and fans the opportunity to catch a game.
Sam Vecenie of the Athletic and the Game Theory podcast stopped by to chat with Rob Dauster about the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA tournament. The two went through each of the eight Sweet 16 matchups, detailing how each one of those eight games projects to play out and going over which lines — spread and over-unders — they like.
Rhode Island head coach Dan Hurley will be the next head coach at UConn, replacing the 2014 national title winner, Kevin Ollie.
Hurley will be signing a six-year deal, according to multiple reports, that could be valued as much as $18 million. Hurley picked UConn over Pitt, who had also offered him a similar amount of money.
Hurley turned the Rhode Island program around during his six-year tenure, capped off with a pair of seasons where the Rams won a game in the NCAA tournament. UConn, which is one of the best jobs but has not been one of the best teams in the AAC in recent years, should be a place where he can continue to recruit talent. Under Ollie, the Huskies have been able to get players. The issue has been the performance and development of those players once they get to campus.
The Huskies finished 14-18 this past season.
Dan Hurley is the son of New Jersey high school coaching legend Bob Hurley and the brother of former Duke guard and current Arizona State head coach Bobby Hurley.
Villanova’s road to the Sweet 16 hit its roughest patch yet on Wednesday as the team attempted to leave campus for the team’s flight to Boston.
Since the Philadelphia area has been slammed with a snowstorm, the Wildcat team bus had issues leaving to get to the team’s chartered flight.
A struggle between team bus and ice ensued. The bus was delayed by 30 minutes before finally being able to leave.
Villanova continues its NCAA tournament journey on Friday when the No. 1 seed Wildcats play No. 5 seed West Virginia in Boston.
Wake Forest will be down a key player next season as the school announced that guard Keyshawn Woods will either transfer or go pro after graduation.
The 6-foot-3 Woods was the team’s second-leading scorer this season as he put up 11.9 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game. Woods shot 43 percent from the floor and 37 percent from three-point range for the 2017-18 campaign.
Also a key member of last season’s NCAA tournament team for the Demon Deacons, Woods transferred to Wake Forest after spending his first season at Charlotte.
“I appreciate the opportunity that Coach Manning gave me to be a part of this program and to graduate from this great university,” said Woods in the release. “I am proud that I was able to help the coaches change the culture of the program and build a foundation for the future.”
The loss of Woods won’t be easy for Wake Forest, but the team is scheduled to return some talented guards like Bryant Crawford and Brandon Childress next season. Incoming freshmen like Jaime Lewis and Sharone Wright Jr. are also signed to add to the perimeter depth.
Louisville announced on Wednesday afternoon that interim head coach David Padgett would not be retained.
Padgett, who is 32 years old, stepped in and took the program over in the wake of a scandal that cost Hall of Fame head coach Rick Pitino his job.
“We all owe a great debt of gratitude to David for his leadership and poise this season,” said U of L Interim Director of Athletics Vince Tyra. “He took over during incredible circumstances, has handled himself respectfully throughout the season and I believe he has a bright future in coaching. We expect to determine a new head coach in a short period to build upon the great basketball tradition of this university.”
Pitino was fired because an FBI complaint contained an allegation that he and his staff had arranged for a $100,000 payment to be funneled to Brian Bowen from Adidas.
In his one season with the Cardinals, Padgett went 22-14 and reached the quarterfinals of the NIT.
Louisville will now conduct a search for their next head coach, and current Xavier coach Chris Mack has long been considered the favorite to take that job.