women

UConn to play in Hall of Fame Women’s Challenge, part of Mohegan Sun ‘Bubbleville’ that will host basketball events at start of NCAA season

The Hall of Fame Women’s Challenge that the UConn women will participate in at the end of November is officially on and will be part of “Bubbleville,” a bubble-like environment at Uncasville’s Mohegan Sun that will host multiple basketball events to kick off the college basketball season.

All four of the schools originally slated to play — UConn, Mississippi State, Quinnipiac and Maine — were able to keep the tournament on their schedules, with the Huskies set to play Quinnipiac first on Nov. 28 before facing the winner of Mississippi-Maine the following day. Game times, television details and ticket information — suggesting some fans will be allowed in the arena — have yet to be announced.

The bubble-esque set-up, which the Courant had been previously reported as in-the-works, was officially announced Friday by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. The Legends Classic, which will host the UConn men, Vanderbilt, Southern California and BYU at Mohegan Sun on Dec. 2 and 3, will also be part of “Bubbleville,” which will operate from Nov. 25 through Dec. 4.

The Hall of Fame and Gazelle Group, third-party tournament organizers, have been working with Mohegan Sun officials for months to create a controlled environment where teams can kick off non-conference play while “adhering to tribal, government, and NCAA health and safety protocols and testing requirements,” Friday’s announcement said.

“The Hall of Fame Women’s Challenge has been held at Mohegan Sun Arena for many years in front of the tremendous UConn fanbase. While COVID-19 has forced us to reassess many events and safety protocols, we are proud to still be hosting these four outstanding teams in a world-class venue,” John L. Doleva, President and CEO of the Basketball Hall of Fame, said in a statement. “We thank Mohegan Sun for their partnership and their diligence to produce this tournament in a bubble-like atmosphere.”

Friday’s announcement featured relatively scant details. But Dave Martinelli, chief marketing officer at Mohegan Sun, previously told the Courant that organizers could stage four courts (aside from Mohegan Sun Arena itself) in the site’s Expo Center. Each team could also have a hotel floor to itself, early plans detailed, and would be able to travel from hotel rooms to meeting spaces to courts without entering public spaces.

The UConn women have yet to release an official schedule, though Geno Auriemma has told media that non-conference matchups with Tennessee, Baylor and South Carolina are still on.

Alexa Philippou can be reached at aphilippou@courant.com

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