If you like really good basketball, Hartford was your venue Tuesday. The UConn and Notre Dame women played a Big East Championship game for the ages, with the incomparable Maya Moore and her UConn teammates coming away the victors as millions watched on ESPN.
Now to keep the tournament here.
The postseason conference championship has been held in Hartford since 2004. The contract expired after this tournament, and the Big East is exploring options. It's imperative that Hartford go into a full-court press, perhaps with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy at point guard, to keep it here.
In the past seven years, the city's hospitality group has gotten this right. The student athletes are welcomed, the fans have fun, the restaurants are full and the atmosphere is exciting.
The main selling point is that the Big East draws more fans to Hartford than any other major women's conference draws for its championship. "Hartford is the capital of women's basketball," said Chuck Steedman, general manager of the XL Center.
Some coaches have complained about having to play at one of UConn's home courts. The savvier coaches don't say that. They know that playing before 10,000 screaming fans (the scene Tuesday night) is ideal preparation for the NCAA tournament. All should hope that the Big East will keep a good thing going.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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