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Indiana coach: ‘Disappointing’ tourney pushed sport ‘backwards’

(Saul Young/News Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK)

The Las Vegas Invitational tournament is under fire for its subpar setup.

The tournament took place in a ballroom at The Mirage hotel, with no stands set up for spectators. Instead, chairs were set up surrounding the court.

Speaking to ESPN, site coordinator Ryan Polk said that he had apologized to coaches, fans and referees about the tournament’s conditions. Indiana women’s basketball coach Teri Moren later confirmed the apology. But she thinks that others need to take on responsibility.

“I think there are other people who probably need to apologize as well for wanting us to come and play in this event and making promises, if you will,” Moren told ESPN. “This is not what was described to us a far as what the venue was going to look like, what the setup was going to look like.

According to Indiana, tournament director Bryce McKey had promised a similar setup to Athletes Unlimited. He was absent this weekend, as he was at another tournament in Daytona, Florida. Polk told ESPN that they had already notified the hotel that the tournament would not be returning.

“This is a one-time disaster in terms of events,” he said. “It definitely did not go the way we thought or planned. We just severely missed the mark when comes to the spectator side.”

For Moren, the lack of bleachers for fans combined with the quality of teams – which included her sixth-ranked Hoosiers – is a step back for the growth of the game.

“What was disappointing was the aesthetics; it’s not a fan-friendly environment,” she said. “As women’s basketball coaches, we’re trying to move our game forward. It felt like because [this] got so many ticks on social, that we had taken a couple steps backwards.

“We have an obligation to grow our game, and we completely missed on this opportunity because you have a lot of really good teams that are here. I see all these other tournaments going on and footage of that, but this was a major miss.”

One other issue that plagued the tournament was a lack of medical support. Two players, Auburn’s Kharyssa Richardson and Indiana’s Grace Berger, were injured during games. But coaches didn’t point to the quality of the court as a reason for pause.

In Richardson’s case, it took 40 minutes for paramedics to arrive and the game was delayed for almost an hour.

“I don’t read a lot of social [media],” Moren said. “But this notion that the floor … there’s no problem with the floor. The injury to Grace did not happen because of the floor.

“[But] I think any good tournament has EMT and all that, medical professionals, on site. And once again that wasn’t 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 having to watch that moment for Auburn.”