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TNIAAM Roundtable: Should Syracuse WBB Have Scheduled UConn?

Knowing that it would have almost-certainly need a loss but would have boosted attendance and awareness of the program, should Syracuse have said yes to hosting UConn?

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Syracuse Orange women's basketball have been pretty successful in recent years. However, you wouldn't know that if you looked at the empty stands every game. SU had a chance to pack the Dome (so to speak) by playing host to the No. 1 Connecticut Huskies and hometown hero Breanna Strewart. SU apparently said no and instead the Huskies played in front of a packed gym against Colgate for Stewart's homecoming.

Knowing that it would have almost-certainly need a loss but would have boosted attendance and awareness of the program, should Syracuse have said yes to hosting UConn?

Matt Constas

I don't see how it could have hurt. If it did end up filling up the Dome, I think it would show recruits how much of a basketball town Syracuse is and how a transcendent player could change the landscape of the program. A nice homecoming for Stewart could also show other talented players from the area that are hesitant to come to Syracuse that a hometown hero would be something the city is willing to rally behind. Obviously those things are difficult to prove, but bring Stewart back could have been a step in that direction. Other than the good chance at getting beat pretty bad, this can only have positive or neutral impacts.

Kevin Wall

Yes, SU should have played UConn instead of sending the game to Colgate. I know resumes are important, but you can't dodge a shot at the #1 team coming to your home court to play. I don't think it would have been that hard to ask Tennessee to move the game back a year in order to avoid an over-schedule issue. It would have been nice to give the exposure to the Top 20 SU team and also put a good crowd in the Dome to showcase them.

Andrew Carey

Yes I think that Syracuse Women's Basketball should've scheduled UConn for a home game in the Dome. They need to find a way to get people in the seats. I can understand the argument of improving and getting better, but this team is already fairly good, they are ranked 19th in the country. You can't keep saying that you can wait until they get good, because they already are good. I think that one of the only ways to get people to get to the games would be to offer something unique. Syracuse had the opportunity to do this, had they have scheduled UConn, which features the best player in the nation Brianna Stewart, who happens to be from Syracuse. Do they beat UConn? Noalmost certainly not, but by drawing that big crowd to the game maybe they come back for other games. But I don't think you can wait around until the team gets better. They have continually a nationally ranked team, but attendance doesn't seem to improve.

Andy Pregler

Absolutely yes. Listen: in any other sport this isn't even a conversation. But that's because you're not comparing apples to apples. In a vacuum, the Orange play in the dome in front of crowds in the hundreds where you can hear a pin drop. The Dome is probably not making money on these games with staffing, resources etc. Last time UConn came to town, with no Stewart, there was close to 4500 people there. This time around you're talking about at least matching that crowd and for the first time in a long time, having an WBB EVENT at the Dome. Very few schools can even dream of that. Excluding all of the positive PR from this, the X's and O's of a stronger Orange team taking on the number one team in the country at home is enough to make it happen.

Claudia Ceva

If this were the men's team, I would say, "No," but given the fact that women's basketball doesn't get much exposure, with the exception of the elite teams, I believe Syracuse missed a very valuable opportunity by not scheduling UConn. The last time the two played each other, correct me if I'm wrong, but the game drew over 9,000 to the Dome. That's huge for this program. I would advise strongly the athletic department to take full advantage of the next opportunity that comes their way of this nature.

Sean Farrell

Without a doubt yes. Besides the good PR of having Stewart back in town, Syracuse isn't in a position to turn down a chance for exposure, eyeballs and (of course) butts in the seats. We've talked at length here -- perhaps ad nauseam -- about Syracuse's attendance or lack thereof, but it's worth bringing up again now more than ever. The Orange has the highest AP ranking in program history now, is coming off a strong season and has a marketable and media-friendly star in Brittney Sykes. Three factors that should lead to respectable attendance figures, but SU continues to sag in that department relative to other strong power-five schools. What better way to create buzz than hosting a showdown between Sykes and Stewie?

Dan Lyons

Last year, we found out just how bad Syracuse's womens basketball attendance is. If we were just merely one of the many, many schools that is apathetic, so be it. However, SU's attendance is at another level of paltriness. People often say that Syracuse is an "event town," and whether or not we like to admit it, Stewart coming home to the Dome (that she spurned a few years back) is an "event." Would it have turned around Syracuse WBB forever? Probably not. Would Syracuse lose by 20, 30, 40 points? Yeah. So does every other school that UConn visits, outside of the occasional Stanford or Notre Dame squad. I highly doubt the selection committee uses a loss to UConn as a major barometer for leaving a program out, while a huge upset win or a close game could help drive some excitement for a team that has deserved a bit of it for a few years now. I think the positives outweigh the negatives here.

John Cassillo

The goal of college football is to avoid losing. The goal of college basketball is to amass the best resume, and if losses happen along the road to that resume, so be it. Yes, the Syracuse women's team is already in a difficult conference, but even a big loss to a national power like UConn wouldn't really do anything to hurt it. As much as it pains a Syracuse fan to admit it, the Huskies women's team are the best game in two each and every year when it comes to women's hoops. They're the only one capable of consistently getting national exposure on their own and the only one capable of giving other programs the same bump. For a team like the Orange, that has a lot of trouble drawing crowds at home, there's little to be lost (other than probably the game) in having UConn visit the Dome

Sean Keeley

As the guy who is constantly saying SU Football needs to schedule easier, perhaps it's hypocritical to say that I think SU absolutely should have played this game. But, we're talking about two different animals and a football game with 25K is way different than a basketball game in front of 600 people, especially in the Carrier Dome. Worst-case scenario is that UConn wins by 60're just like everyone else. You won't get dinged in the rankings and everyone will forget by two days later. Best-case scenario (aside from an epic upset) is that you generate a ton of local interest, get 6-7,000 people in there to see what a women's game looks like, and also generate a lot of national awareness for the program. It's not Quentin Hillsman to do anything but look out for his own players, but I think it would have been well worth it.