Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

New Orleans gears up for women's Final Four

NEW ORLEANS — After slicing through downtown traffic in the type of motorcade a head of state might expect, Geno Auriemma stepped out of Connecticut's bus, bowed his head to receive a Mardi Gras-style beaded necklace with a Final Four medallion on it and entered the team hotel to the music of a live brass band.

For UConn's coach, the sights and sounds were happily familiar. Once-battered New Orleans, well on its way to re-establishing itself as a premier host for major events, is home to a women's Final Four for a record third time — and Auriemma has been to all three.

"I never get tired of coming down here," said the coach, whose team lost a semifinal in New Orleans in 1991 and won it all in 2004. "This city treats events a little bit differently than any other place where they play these games."

The Final Four — UConn, California, Louisville and Notre Dame — represents the fourth major college or pro championship in New Orleans in the past 15 months as city leaders worked to show how far the city has come since Hurricane Katrina's devastation in August 2005.

The BCS national title game and men's Final Four came in 2012 and this February the Big Easy hosted the Biggest Game. The Super Bowl returned for the first time since 2002 and except for a half-hour blackout at the Superdome, things went well.

The blackout "was pretty innocuous overall," said Jay Cicero, chief of the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation, which organizes bids for high-profile events.

Familiar: Muffet McGraw and Auriemma have been crossing paths for a long time. Auriemma arrived at St. Joseph's as an assistant to Jim Foster in 1978, two seasons after McGraw graduated from the school that bills itself as the "Cradle of Coaches." A year after Auriemma left to coach at his alma mater, Bishop Kenrick High, Foster hired McGraw as his assistant. McGraw and Auriemma will see each other again Sunday in the semifinals. McGraw is trying to lead Notre Dame to its second national title and Auriemma is trying to help the Huskies win their eighth. "I think it is the most heated rivalry in women's basketball, and it's a game that everybody enjoys watching, and we enjoy playing," McGraw said.

.Fast facts

Final Four

Sunday, New Orleans Arena TV/radio: ESPN; 1010-AM

• Louisville vs. California, 6:36

• Notre Dame vs. Connecticut, 9:15

National

championship

8:30 Tuesday

TV/radio: ESPN; 1010-AM

New Orleans gears up for women's Final Four 04/05/13 [Last modified: Saturday, April 6, 2013 4:36pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays journal: Alex Cobb brilliant, Alex Colome worrying in 10-inning victory (w/video)

    The Heater

    PITTSBURGH — RHP Alex Cobb couldn't have been much better for the Rays on Tuesday, taking a no-hitter into the seventh inning while working eight solid. And Alex Colome couldn't have been much worse, blowing a two-run ninth-inning lead.

    Rays starter Alex Cobb carries a no-hitter into the seventh and pitches eight shutout innings in his best outing of the season.
  2. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Tuesday's Rays-Pirates game

    The Heater

    RHP Alex Cobb continues to look better and better, which could make the decision whether to trade him tougher. Cobb had a no-hitter through six and threw his biggest pitch with a 1-0 lead in the seventh, getting Josh Bell to roll into a double play.

  3. For good of the Rays, Tim Beckham should embrace move to second

    The Heater

    PITTSBURGH — The acquisition of slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria said a lot of things, most notably that the Rays are serious about making in-season moves to bolster their chances to make the playoffs, with a reliever, or two, next on the shopping list.

    PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 27:  Tim Beckham #1 of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrates with teammates after scoring during the eighth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on June 27, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) 700011399
  4. Rays at Pirates, 7:05 p.m. Wednesday, Pittsburgh

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Pirates

    7:05, PNC Park, Pittsburgh

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 18:  Blake Snell #4 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait during the Tampa Bay Rays photo day on February 18, 2017 at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Floida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
  5. Rays sign first-round pick Brendan McKay to record bonus

    The Heater

    PITTSBURGH — Determining whether top draft pick Brendan McKay will be more productive as a pitcher or a hitter or can handle the demands of doing both professionally will be a long endeavor that could take years.

    Louisville pitcher Brendan McKay  connects for a grand slam home run during the Atlantic Coast Conference baseball tournament against Notre Dame in May in Louisville, Ky. [Timothy D. Easley/theACC.com via AP]