After a five-day stay in Mohegan Sun for the Big East tournament, the UConn women’s basketball team is now on the hunt for a 12th national championship before an even greater test of mental strength.
The huskies are on Tuesday Arrived in Texas and will be there for almost three weeks if everything goes as planned.
While staying in a hotel all the time is obviously not ideal, the huskies understand what this is about. Deputy head coach Chris Dailey, who led the team in the absence of Geno Auriemma, said the program may draw on some negative experiences. « We can’t worry about that, » Dailey told Hearst in a phone interview last week Connecticut Media. “In the last seven years we’ve been at AAC, our players have never complained. We would be home at 3 a.m. and they would still be going to school. There is nothing you can do to change this.
« Whatever our situation, our approach will be, » Let’s deal with it, let’s find out. « The teams that handle it best will be the teams that have the best chance of moving on. »
This year’s tournament will take place exclusively in the San Antonio area. Some of the first round games take place in the nearby towns of San Marcos and Austin. UConn (24-1) with the number 1 will play High Point No. 16 (ESPN) at the Alamodome on Sunday at 8 p.m.
Dailey, Auriemma’s 36-year-old buddy, is the provisional head coach in the first two rounds of the tournament after Auriemma tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday. Assistant Shea Ralph is also currently not on the team after a member of her family was diagnosed with the coronavirus.
So Dailey and assistant Jamelle Elliott are the only remaining huskies trainers in the bladder. Dailey is 10-0 as head coach when Auriemma was unavailable, while Elliott spent nine seasons as head coach of Cincinnati.
The teams are spread across seven hotels in Texas. But as the teams settled into the controlled environment this week, players and officials started commenting on the amenities. Social media posts revealed an inequality between the strength training opportunities available to women in San Antonio and men in Indianapolis. Other posts compared the difference between gift bags for women and men and comments on food choices.
The quote from Paige Bueckers’ mother Amy Fuller tweeted about a photo of a meal that was served to women: “IT’S NOT ACCEPTABLE. Better do it NCAA! «
NCAA vice president of women’s basketball, Lynn Holzman, addressed the training problem in a statement Thursday afternoon: » We acknowledge that some of the equipment teams usually have access to be less available in the controlled environment. This is partly due to the limited space and the original plan was to expand the training area as soon as additional space became available later in the tournament. However, we would like to cater to the needs of our participating teams and are actively working to improve the resources available on the exercise grounds, including additional strength training equipment. “
Oregon’s Sedona Prince later posted a video showing unused space in the strength training area, saying, » If you don’t get upset about this problem, you are part of it. «
Beyond the facilities and logistics the teams also adhere to health guidelines. Each team was required to test negative for COVID-19 seven days prior to arrival and then run two more negative tests at least 12 hours apart. They must be quarantined during this time.
Meals are to be consumed either alone or in a physically distant room with assigned seating. Masks are strictly enforced outside of training and games unless they are isolated in hotel rooms or during set meal times.
« Well, I think we’ll be doing a lot of homework in our rooms, » said Paige Bueckers, newbie at UConn. « We have to look at it and probably move on just because we will be so busy at the start of the tournament. » We will be isolated a lot. «
» We had a lot of time in Mohegan so we got to do this, « said Bueckers, the self-proclaimed best dancer on the team. » I’m sure we will have a lot of time [in Texas] too. « </ p "We've traveled all over the place as a group," said Dailey. "If I wanted to get off breakfast early to do my job, I could do that. I'm just using this as an example. You're traveling in a 25-pack and have no choice. They wait a lot, but it didn't really affect us obviously. We adjusted various things like the study room and it worked really well. "
The senior huskies rolled on their way to their 19th Big East -Tournaments past St. Johns, Villanova and Marquette – for the first time since 2012. They have won 14 games in a row and are a favorite to reach the 13th Final Four in a row.
Arrival promises To be challenging both mentally and physically, but the huskies will just roll with whatever they come across.
« That’s our approach, » said Dailey. “We’re just going to find out. In my head, I can question it privately and say, ‘What the hell’ but when it comes to what we do as a team, we’ll be on the same page, we’ll find out. We will Get the best schedule and put it together and work with it and make it happen.
« There’s not much we can do. They hope [the tournament logs] are guided by safety and common sense, and the rest of it we’ll find out. «
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