College Hoops

UConn men encountering travel delays on way to Final Four

UConn men encountering travel delays on way to Final Four

The UConn men’s basketball team made it to the Final Four with four one-sided victories in the East Regional. But qualifying is one thing; getting to Phoenix has been no easy task.

The Huskies, who have had a string of travel nightmares, were still on campus as of 8 p.m. Wednesday night, waiting as a plane was found and made available to fly them to Arizona, where they are to play Alabama in the semifinal on Saturday at 8:40 p.m.. The other semifinalists, Alabama, Purdue and NC State, are already on the ground in Phoenix.

The NCAA handles all travel arrangements for the tournament, and had a plane scheduled to depart Bradley International Airport at 6 p.m. The players and coaches met for a team dinner before their flight. They learned, according to’s Matt Norlander, that logistical and mechanical issues with the plane, which was coming from Kansas City, caused significant delays. Norlander, who spoke with coach Dan Hurley, reported that because the flight crew was over its hours limit, the plane wouldn’t be able to get to Connecticut and take off until 10 a.m. Thursday. A smaller plane after midnight would have to make a stop for fuel.

So the Huskies will lose a day to get acclimated to the three-hour time difference, and arrive in Phoenix just hours before their scheduled workouts and press conferences Thursday with little chance for a full night’s sleep. As officials scrambled to a plane, the team, after returning to campus for their dinner, was packed up and waiting for word to take their bus to the airport.

Last year at the West Regional, the team found its hotel arrangements in Las Vegas inadequate and had to move during the stretch. During the last week of the regular season, the UConn traveling party was stranded in Milwaukee due to problems with the plane after playing Marquette, with a quick-turnaround before playing at Providence.

None of these past problems, of course, have affected UConn’s on-court performance. The No.1 overall seed in the Field of 68, the Huskies played their first- and second-round games in Brooklyn, the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 games in Boston, both sides within driving…

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