UConn women's basketball drawing bigger home crowds this season

Published on Tuesday, 20 February 2018 18:55
Written by CARL ADAMEC


HARTFORD - The UConn women’s basketball team went 40-0 en route to winning a second straight national championship in 2014 and saw its attendance drop by 7.4 percent. The run to the three-peat in 2015 saw attendance drop by 1.3 percent.

The Huskies’ historic fourth consecutive national championship and 111-game winning streak over the next two seasons saw a rise in attendance of 8.4 percent.

But with three home games at Gampel Pavilion - next Monday against South Florida and NCAA Tournament first- and second-round contests next month - remaining, UConn could average five figures for the first time in eight years.

A crowd of 13,110 came out to the XL Center Sunday to watch the top-ranked Huskies rout Temple 106-45 in an American Athletic Conference contest. That brought their average attendance for 11 home games (six at the XL Center, five at Gampel Pavilion) to 10,558.

“It has been really fun watching it grow again,” UConn All-American Gabby Williams said. “I think in my four years, this is the best that it has been. It is fun, because these XL games are almost like away games for us. But it is fun to still have the crowd.”

UConn averaged 12,458 for its six XL Center games, helped by the fact that all were weekend afternoon games. The average for five home games at Gampel Pavilion is 8,279 with their last two appearances against Louisville and Tulane being sellouts.

“Each game it seems like there is more and more and more each time so we want to make sure we go out there and play as hard as we can,” UConn All-American Katie Lou Samuelson said.

From the mid-to-late 1990s through the Diana Taurasi era that ended in 2004, sellouts were common place for the Huskies.

The last time UConn averaged five figures was in 2010 when the final number was 10,260. That season the Huskies completed their second straight 39-0 campaign. From there, each season’s attendance dropped until the average was 8,216 in 2015.

“We had a little event at practice the other day where we had a lot of season ticket holders come,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “We talked about that about 2004 might have been the last time when it was automatic that you would come to the XL Center to play and it would be sold out. It’s the same thing with Gampel. From that point on, we went through peaks, valleys and dips. It was to the point where people on the road would tell me that winning solves everything, and I would say, ‘Not really. We had a 90-game winning streak and our attendance went down.’

“It’s just hard to get people to come to games anymore. There’s so much stuff at home they can watch, and it’s so easy to just watch it on TV. So the fact that our fans (have come out) this year for a lot of reasons … They love watching the kids play and they stay to the end. It’s kind of part of what had made our program what it is. We have some very passionate fans.”

UConn has won 77 straight home games.

Husky bites

UConn signee Christyn Williams (5-foot-11 guard, Little Rock, Arkansas) is a finalist for the Naismith Trophy as the top high school player in the country. The other finalists are Stanford signee Jenna Brown, Texas signee Charli Collier, Tennessee signee Amira Collins, and Baylor signee Aquira DeCosta. The winner will be announced March 9 … The Huskies can clinch a share of the AAC regular season title with a win at Tulane Wednesday night but would also need a loss by USF to Houston to wrap up the AAC Tournament’s top seed.

Posted in New Britain Herald, UConn on Tuesday, 20 February 2018 18:55. Updated: Tuesday, 20 February 2018 18:57.