For the primary time in NCAA match historical past, or at the least for the reason that tourney was damaged into 4 separate areas, coaches had no excuse to complain about the place they had been being despatched this yr.
Previously, coaches from the East Coast would possibly kvetch about being despatched out to an outpost out West. UCLA’s Mick Cronin was well-known for this when teaching at Cincinnati.
Then there was the frequent grievance about being despatched to play too near the campus of an opponent, whose fanbase may fill the sector and switch it right into a digital residence sport. Jim Calhoun was well-known for this.
Not this yr, although.
All 68 groups this week shall be in Indiana, the place your entire NCAA match shall be held. No complaining about sport websites, journey, and so forth., proper?
Effectively … UConn will play its first-round sport on Saturday (7:10 p.m., CBS) at Mackey Enviornment, on the campus of Purdue in West Lafayette, Ind. That is a virtually two-hour bus journey from Indianapolis, the place all match groups are required to remain.
The Huskies should make that bus journey twice — for one, 90-minute follow a while over the subsequent couple of days and, in fact, for Saturday’s sport. Not an enormous inconvenience, however not ideally suited.
In fact, 11 different groups are in the identical boat — together with, clearly, Maryland. That is simply the best way it’s this yr. Every part’s completely different.
“This is not the entire NCAA expertise, the place you pull into the (resort) foyer and there is no dance crew, cheerleaders, band, followers,” UConn coach Dan Hurley stated. “You go proper to the testing. It is not precisely the identical euphoria that you simply really feel, usually, in these conditions.”
Hurley would know that “euphoria,” having taken Rhode Island to the Large Dance in 2017 and 2018. However not one of the gamers on this yr’s roster have had the identical expertise.
“I am simply glad to be enjoying within the match,” senior ahead Isaiah Whaley stated. “I have never been right here earlier than, so I do not know the way it was earlier than we bought right here. I am having fun with this time with my crew within the match now. We’re all nonetheless excited to be right here. The joys of listening to our identify on Choice Sunday continues to be surreal, everyone was super-excited. We’re simply having fun with our time collectively proper now and we’re super-excited to play.”
UConn has been quarantined in its resort since its arrival on Monday, however Hurley hoped the Huskies would get their COVID-19 check outcomes again on Tuesday night time. If everybody exams unfavourable, the crew would possibly get some pictures up at a neighborhood gymnasium.
UConn will follow at an Indianapolis-area gymnasium a few instances over the subsequent few days, together with the one follow at Mackey. That is assuming, in fact, that everybody everybody exams unfavourable.
Hurley want look no additional than his UConn head teaching counterpart, Geno Auriemma, to see issues can change quickly. Really, he cannot take a look at Auriemma — he is again residence after testing optimistic for COVID, whereas his crew heads out to San Antonio to start match play.
Hurley famous that coping with the protocols is less complicated, thanks partially to the Huskies’ expertise inside Mohegan Solar’s “Bubbleville” again in November.
Nonetheless, this whole season has been robust on everybody.
“That is why I’ve bought a lot respect for everybody in school basketball, all of the coaches, all of the gamers which have soldiered on and gotten by way of any such season,” he stated. “I do not assume individuals on the surface that have not lived it and skilled it have any concept what it has been like for the coaches and the gamers simply to finish a season, by no means thoughts being your finest.”
“Whether or not you made the NCAA match or had a disappointing yr, individuals have no clue how arduous this has been on the gamers and coaches,” he continued. “Particularly those that sit of their den or front room and decide coaches or gamers aside. Particularly these individuals.”
Hurley was in a jovial temper on Tuesday afternoon’s Zoom name. He joked about how his brother Bobby, the previous Duke star, famous how “nice the Maryland followers had been to him when he was there. He stated they had been very, very good to him, and the group simply actually admired him.” When Hurley’s session was up and it was time for Whaley to affix the decision, the coach quipped: “If it was anyone that was extra of a quote, like (Akok) Akok, I would possibly keep on and hear. Undoubtedly (James) Bouknight. If Christian Very important was nonetheless right here, this might be unbelievable. You need to Zoom him in. He helped us get right here anyway.” … Talking of Very important, he was one in all a number of former UConn gamers, together with Jalen Adams and present Wichita State guard Alterique Gilbert, who contacted Whaley over the previous few days. “He stated ‘Congrats,’ and he wished he may have been right here with us,” Whaley stated. … Junior level guard R.J. Cole, who suffered a minor concussion in Friday night time’s loss to Creighton, stays in concussion protocol. “We’ll know extra later within the week,” stated Hurley, “however I do know the medical employees is throughout it.”