UConn might be as dominant as ever on the court but that wasn't reflected in the attendance for their first round NCAA game against St. Francis Brooklyn. The announced crowd of 3,666 was the second-worst ever for an NCAA Tournament game at Gampel Pavilion.
The worst? Against Clemson in 1990, which was the very first NCAA game at Gampel.
The St. Francis Brooklyn game marked the 14th non-sellout, which is in stark contrast to 20 years ago when the team was in the midst of selling out 20 straight tournament games. The empty seats hasn't been lost on Geno Auriemma.
“Thirty-six hundred is not indicative of who our program is and where we are and what we’ve done all of these years to get to this point,” Auriemma said Sunday, via SNY.comn's Carl Adamec. “It’s kind of embarrassing. We took great pride in who we are and what we’ve done and how we’ve done it all these years and for that to happen … I’m not pointing fingers at anyone, I just think it’s embarrassing.
“It’s indicative of all sports. Things are new and fresh and alive and it’s, ‘Hey, let’s go check it out.’ After awhile, “Eh, I’ll watch it on TV.’ I don’t think it’s any different in baseball, in football, any sport. There comes a point where they go, ‘What’s the point? They’re going to win.’ And they’ll look for excuses why — the tickets are expensive, it’s what time the game is, it’s the parking, it’s where I’m sitting, it’s everything you can imagine to justify it. Who’s to say they’re wrong?”
It probably doesn't help that the UConn-St. Francis Brooklyn was at 9 p.m., the same time UConn and Rutgers will start on Monday night.
“It makes no sense. It makes no sense to me and to our fans," Auriemma said. "If somebody said to me before the tournament, ‘What’s your ideal situation?’ I would have said Saturday at 4 and Monday at 7. Or Friday at 7 and Sunday at 2. You look for windows, knowing what our fan base is, to get eight, nine, 10,000 fans. But I don’t make those decisions.”