Indiana Hoosiers women’s basketball coach Teri Moren said Saturday that an opportunity was missed to field her undefeated No. 6-ranked team and other teams at the Las Vegas Invitational tournament this weekend due to of a poor setup for the event.
A venue coordinator for the event told ESPN he apologized to players, coaches, fans and referees for the tournament conditions, which were discussed on social media. The tournament was played on a pitch in a grand ballroom at The Mirage hotel which had no grandstand for spectators. Chairs have been set up around the yard.
Moren confirmed that site coordinator Ryan Polk had apologized.
“I think there are other people who probably need to apologize as well for wanting us to play this event and making promises, if you will,” Moren said. “It’s not what was described to us in terms of what the venue would look like, what the setup would look like.
“What was disappointing was the aesthetics; it’s not a fan-friendly environment. As women’s basketball coaches, we try to push our game forward. It was like because [this] had so many ticks on social media that we had taken a few steps back. We have an obligation to develop our game, and we completely missed that opportunity because you have a lot of very good teams here. I see all these other tournaments going on and footage of that, but it was a big miss.”
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 what the Athletes Unlimited women’s pro league in Las Vegas had. earlier this year. But it didn’t look like that.
McKey was at another tournament this weekend in Daytona, Florida. Polk said tournament organizers realized too late that the Las Vegas setup wouldn’t measure up.
“We’re so sorry,” Polk said. “Terrain and lighting, that sort of thing hasn’t been a problem. But we needed to have full bleachers. We’ve informed the Mirage that we won’t be returning. It’s a one-time disaster in terms It certainly didn’t turn out the way we thought or planned, we just missed the mark as far as the onlooker side goes.
Another problem arose Saturday night at the tournament, however, when Auburn Tigers player Kharyssa Richardson was injured after hitting the ground hard while searching for 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 paramedics more than 40 minutes to get to 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 star 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 problem with the court itself and felt it had nothing to do with Berger’s injury. However, she was concerned about how long it took Richardson to receive medical attention. The Hoosiers decided to play after that anyway, with their game starting more than an hour late.
“I don’t read a lot of social media [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 any good tournament has EMTs and all that, medical professionals, on site. And again that was not the case. Another big miss for this tournament. There were a lot of things that should have been better, and they just weren’t. I was very frustrated to have to watch this moment for Auburn.”
Moren said she spoke to Indiana athletic director Scott Dolson on Saturday, who wanted to make sure the team felt the environment was safe to play in. She said the Hoosiers felt safe, but Auburn’s injury caused her to take a break.
“We’ve played ballrooms before,” Moren said. “We were in the Bahamas last year: another ballroom scenario, but one that looked very different from the ballroom we’ve played in the last two nights. I don’t want there to be any the idea that performing 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.
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