Indiana women's basketball coach Teri Moren was frustrated at the organizers of the Las Vegas Invitational at the Mirage Hotel this past weekend for supplying such a subpar, fan-unfriendly setup for the women's basketball teams that came to play in the tournament. And beyond the frustration, Moren felt the tournament was a step back for the entire sport.
“What’s disappointing is the aesthetics. It’s not a fan-friendly environment," Moren said via the Indianapolis Star. "As women’s basketball coaches, we’re trying to move our game forward. It felt like, because it got so many ticks on social, that we’d taken a couple steps backward in this moment. We have an obligation to grow our game, and we completely missed on this opportunity. You have a lot of really good teams that are here representing their conferences. I see all these other tournaments going on, and footage of that. This was a major miss in my opinion in terms of helping to grow this game.”
The event was held in a large basement ballroom, the type that would be used for a keynote speech at a professional conference, which Moren said she had no problem with. But there were no bleachers for fans (just folding chairs), no security, and according to the Indy Star, the scoreboards were just two TVs. Here's a picture of what the room looked like.
And this is how it was supposed to look.
Quite a difference! As one Twitter reply said: "Promised the Bellagio... got the Red Roof Inn off the strip."
Injury scare with no EMTs on site
And beyond the setup, there was also a safety issue. On Saturday, an injury in the game between Auburn and Colorado State led to the Indiana-Memphis game being postponed for nearly 90 minutes. Auburn player Kharyssa Richardson fell hard on her back and appeared to hit her head, and required medical attention due to the possibility of a neck injury. But no paramedics were on site, so she stayed on her back on the court for nearly an hour while EMTs made their way to the hotel. Auburn later said that Richardson was alert and responsive.
“Any good tournament has EMT, all of that, medical professionals on site. It wasn’t the case. Another big miss for this tournament,” Moren said via the Indy Star. “There were a lot of things that should have been better, and they just weren’t. That was a little bit frustrating. If the shoe was on the other foot and that was my kid, I would be very frustrated. I was very frustrated having to watch that moment for Auburn."
Tourney draws criticism on social media
As Moren mentioned out, this story got a lot of notice on social media, with people pointing out yet again the major disparities between how men's and women's basketball are treated.
Tournament director Bryce McKey was not on site at the Mirage during the event, but was instead in Daytona, Fla. for a different tournament. He has not commented on the numerous criticisms of the Las Vegas Invitational, but site coordinator Ryan Polk offered an apology.
"We're very sorry," Polk said via ESPN. "The court and the lighting, that stuff hasn't been an issue. But we needed to have full-on bleachers. We have notified The Mirage we won't be coming back again. This is a one-time disaster in terms of events. It definitely did not go the way we thought or planned. We just severely missed the mark when comes to the spectator side."