The Huskies had a rare off-day today when it comes the NCAA tournament scheduling. How rare? They had found themselves playing in a Sunday-Tuesday scenario in the regional in each of the past eight seasons.
The last time UConn was on a Saturday-Monday schedule for the regional was in 2004 at the XL Center. That was also the last time that the Final Four was in New Orleans.
UConn coach Geno Auriemma believes that the teams that play in the regional final on Monday heading into the Final Four have a slight advantage over those that play on Tuesday. The Huskies and California advanced to the Final Four Monday. Notre Dame/Duke and Tennessee/Louisville play tonight.
“That’s one of the questions that I would pose to the committee after this tournament’s over,’’ Auriemma said. “We have played in that game Tuesday night a lot. We’ve been in that Sunday-Tuesday bracket. You really have one less day to prepare so it’s a little bit unfair for those two teams that are playing (tonight). I think the teams that played (Monday) do have a little bit of an advantage. And I’m sure there’s logistical reasons why it happens, but I would hope that the two teams that played (Monday) would play (in the national semifinals) and then the two teams that played (tonight) would play. But it doesn’t work out that way.
“The time between you win (the regional final) and you get to the host city and the Final Four is really rushed. Everything happens quickly, and everybody wants a little bit of everything. And luckily for me I’ve got a great staff that works in our office, (Director of Women’s Basketball Administration) Sarah (Darras) being the main one. Who’s going when and the tickets and this and all that … Playing on a Monday, that extra day believe me is huge, and we’re going to use it productively, let’s put it that way.’’
The Huskies were granted a much-needed day off today. They will begin preparation for Sunday’s national semifinal against either Notre Dame or Duke Wednesday.
In all, UConn will have five full days between games.
“I think a couple days are definitely needed for all of us to kind of enjoy this first and just the feeling of it,’’ said junior Stefanie Dolson, who is battling a stress fracture in her right ankle and plantar fasciitis in her left foot. “And then relaxing, taking care of our bodies is extremely important at this time. So they’re definitely needed.’’