It turns out that UConn women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma wasn't kidding when he said how much he liked playing at the Webster Bank Arena. Last year, the WBA hosted both the Huskies men's and women's basketball teams for one regular season game. The women's team also played at the NCAA Regionals held in Bridgeport twice—most recently in 2013. Now the facility, rapidly becoming one of the top sports and entertainment venues in the state, will be the site of a tune-up game for the U.S. Women's National Basketball Team in preparation for the FIBA World Championship this coming fall.
Auriemma, the national women's basketball team coach who mentored the U.S. to the gold medal in the 2012 London Olympics, was on hand in Bridgeport to make the announcement.
"We don't just at random go places and see if it'll work,'' said Auriemma. "We go places where we know it will work. I was thrilled when I heard about it [being at the WBA], and I know our players are going to love playing here. It's just an exciting place for us.
“We've done a lot of great things here in Bridgeport,'' added Auriemma.
The National Team will train at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., from Sept. 7-10, and will also play in Newark, Del., either vs. an international opponent or as an inter-squad scrimmage. In addition to the game against Canada, Team USA will practice at Webster Bank Arena Sept. 14—either as a co-practice with Canada, or as a scrimmage. Then, it's off to Turkey for the FIBA World Championship tournament Sept. 27-Oct. 5.
The U.S. National Team has always had a strong Husky presence. Past UConn players on the Team USA include Rebecca Lobo, Kara Wolters, Nykesha Sales and Swin Cash. In addition, former Husky star Svetlana Abrimosova played for the Russian National Team in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Huskies past and present vying for a spot on this year's squad include Diana Taurasi, Sue Bird, Maya Moore, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Breanna Stewart.
Auriemma confirmed that the Huskies, who own a 10-1 overall record at the arena, will return to Bridgeport for another regular-season game this upcoming season. When the UConn women's basketball team visited the Webster Bank Arena in January, a record crowd of 9,274 watched and cheered in delight as the Huskies dismantled Temple, 80-36.