The Huskies have had nothing but good positive experiences playing at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport in the past. Today was no different.
UConn rolled past Temple 80-36. But the sellout crowd of 9,274 was electric, matching the arena record for a sporting event that was set by the UConn men’s basketball team against Eastern Washington Dec. 28.
“The atmosphere is really cool here,’’ UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “I was sitting on the bench before the game and we were talking with the other coaches. And you could just feel the difference before the game, leading up to the game, before the opening tap. You just feel it. It just kind of had that almost like big-game feel, even though I don’t know that on the schedule you look and say, `Well, Temple’s a big game.’ But there’s something to be said for going someplace where they don’t get a chance to see you very often and they’re very appreciative and they enjoy it. The enthusiasm … It was telling (UConn athletic director) Warde (Manuel) I hope we can do this more often. It’s a great environment. It’s a great building. People are great.
“This was probably a whole different crowd than what we have up in Gampel and up in the XL Center. Not that there weren’t some carryovers, but I’ll bet you the people that came to watch us today maybe 75 percent of them had never been to a game that way, or very rarely let’s put it that way. I’m sure once their passport is reissued they’ll make their way up to Gampel, but until then it’s a foreign trip for a lot of these people.’’
Auriemma thanked the fans for their support on the court following the game. The players were equally impressed by the crowd.
“It was exciting to have everyone here,’’ senior Bria Hartley said. “I thought it was kind of cool they had lights and everything. You could tell this crowd was really excited for us to play here. Hopefully we can play here more often, maybe not in my career, but hopefully in the future UConn’s able to play here. And I think it’s great.’’
Said sophomore Moriah Jefferson: “It was ridiculous. Our fans were incredible. At the beginning of the game you couldn’t hear anything because they were yelling and yelling. It was crazy. It made you want to come out and play good for them.’’
There have not yet been any discussions between UConn and officials at Webster Bank Arena regarding a return trip to Bridgeport next season.
“We’re going to meet and talk about it in a month or so,’’ Manuel said. “I’ll talk to my staff and talk to the coaches and really get a sense for their feeling about how the games went. It was great from a fan experience and the fan turnout was very good. We wanted to see that, but now we have to talk amongst the staff and talk to the coaches and see how they feel about this game. It was good to hear Geno’s comments and we will talk about whether this is something we want to continue to do.’’