Connecticut Head coach Geno Auriema created attention last week when he commented on the lack of attendance at the team’s first two NCAA tournament games, which were played on campus.
He said the fans were spoiled, as they simply expect the team to advance to the Final Four each season. The Huskies have won the last two National Championships and if they win Tuesday against Duke at the Liacouras Center, they will advance to their fourth consecutive Final Four.
The comments didn’t seem to be much of a bother to Connecticut fans Joan Flasko and Linda Murphy. The friends from Fairfield, Conn. have traveled across the country to see the team and are in Philadelphia for the Regional Final. They also, hold tickets to next week’s Final Four in Indianapolis.
“I was little annoyed, but I think it may have been Geno taking the pressure of his players and placing it on himself,” Murphy said.
Both attended the opening round games at Gampel Pavilion, but said one reason fans don’t attend games there is due to the uncomfortable seating in the arena’s bleachers. They said that many of the team’s fans are elderly people or families with young children, causing it difficult for them to sit in the tightly-constrained bleachers for the length of a game.
“If we didn’t have chair-backs, I wouldn’t have been there,” Murphy said.
The women both said that they enjoy the women’s game over the men’s, as they are able to relate more to the more fundamental style the women play.
“How many of us have been able to dunk a basketball,” Flasko said.
Also, they said it makes it difficult to follow the men, as players leave early for the professional ranks, much more frequently then the women’s players.
“We’ll still be watching closely on Saturday,” Murphy said, referring to the men’s Final Four matchup with Kentucky.
As Watertown, Conn. Native Dennis Gillette purchased his number 23 Maya Moore jersey online, he saw a white Husky mask and thought “what the heck?”
The Connecticut fan has worn the mask on the back of his head to each women’s game he attends, including the last seven games heading into their Tuesday night matchup with Duke. If the mask obstructs another fans view, he’ll gladly take it off. But he said it usually doesn’t.
He’ll also attend the Final Four, whether or not the Huskies advance with a win over Duke.
“Everything’s paid for, so we’re going,” said Gillette.
He said he understood what Auriemma said about the fans and the comments did not anger him, as he was in attendance at the games.
“Through the years UCONN wins and people just expect it now,” Gillette said, “I see his point.”