Vegas women’s hoops tourney setup criticized

Indiana Hoosiers women’s basketball coach Teri Moren said Saturday that the opportunity to showcase their undefeated 6th-ranked roster and other teams at this weekend’s Las Vegas Invitational tournament was missed because the setup for the event was subpar .

A site coordinator for the event told ESPN he had apologized to players, coaches, fans and referees for the tournament conditions, which were discussed on social media. The tournament was played on a court in a large ballroom area at The Mirage Hotel, which had no stands for spectators. Chairs were placed around the yard.

Moren confirmed that site coordinator Ryan Polk apologized.

“I think there are other people who probably also need to apologize for wanting us to come and play at this event and make promises if you will,” Moren said. “It wasn’t described to us like what the venue would be like, what the setup would be like.

“What was disappointing was the aesthetic; it’s not a fan-friendly environment. As women’s basketball coaches, we try to push our game forward. It felt like [this] got so many ticks on social media we took a few steps back. We have an obligation to expand our game and we completely missed that opportunity because you have a lot of really good teams here. I see all these other tournaments and footage of it, but that was a big mistake.”

Indiana shared correspondence the school had in March with tournament director Bryce McKey, who told the Hoosiers the event would be held with a court similar to that used by the Athletes Unlimited Professional Women’s League in Las Vegas earlier this year. But it wasn’t like that.

McKey was at another tournament this weekend in Daytona, Florida. Polk said tournament organizers realized too late that the Las Vegas setup would not meet requirements.

“We’re very sorry,” Polk said. “The space and the lighting, the stuff wasn’t a problem. But we needed fully equipped grandstands. We have informed The Mirage that we will not be returning. This is a one-time disaster in terms of events. It definitely didn’t go the way we imagined or planned. We just missed the target on the spectator side.”

Another problem surfaced during the tournament on Saturday night when Auburn Tigers player Kharyssa Richardson was injured after hitting the ground hard while running after a loose ball. The game was delayed for nearly an hour while she waited for medical attention. According to the Auburn radio show, it took more than 40 minutes for paramedics to arrive at the court.

“She was alert, she reacted to everything, so I really think it’s precautionary,” Auburn coach Johnnie Harris said after the Tigers’ 74-73 win over the Colorado State Rams.

Indiana standout Grace Berger suffered a knee injury on Friday and did not play in Saturday’s 79-64 win over the Memphis Tigers.

Moren said she had no issues with the court itself and felt it had nothing to do with Berger’s injury. However, she was concerned about how long it was before Richardson received medical attention. The Hoosiers decided to play after that anyway, as their game started more than an hour late.

“I don’t read much social stuff [media]’ Moren said. “But this notion that the floor … there is no problem with the floor. Grace’s injury didn’t happen because of the floor.

“[But] I think every good tournament has EMT and all that, medical professionals on site. And once again that wasn’t the case. Another big mistake for this tournament. There were many things that should have been better, but just weren’t. I was very frustrated watching that moment for Auburn.”

Moren said she spoke to Indiana athletic director Scott Dolson on Saturday, who wanted to make sure the team thought the area was safe to play. She said the Hoosiers felt safe, but the Auburn injury caused her a pause.

“We’ve played in ballrooms before,” Moren said. “We were in the Bahamas last year: another ballroom scenario, but very different from the ballroom we’ve been playing the past two nights. I don’t want the impression that playing in ballrooms is dangerous. But in this particular event, there were a lot of things that needed to be improved.”

ESPN’s Alexa Philippou contributed to this story.

https://www.espn.com/womens-college-basketball/story/_/id/35119277/vegas-women-hoops-tourney-setup-criticized Vegas women’s hoops tourney setup criticized

Emma Bowman

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