Las Vegas is a city known for its glitz and glamour. Neither, though, were found during what was supposed to be a showcase of some of the nation's top women's basketball teams this holiday weekend. The Women's Las Vegas Invitational, which featured teams such as Louisville and Auburn, went viral on social media for its embarrassingly low-key setup: a hotel ballroom with no stands for spectators.
Here's what the games at The Mirage hotel looked like:
It’s time for basketball in Vegas! No. 6/5 Indiana (5-0) takes on Auburn (3-1).— Austin Render (@AustinRender) November 26, 2022
Tip will be later than scheduled. Likely sometime between 6:15-6:30. Check us out on @WHCC105 and https://t.co/PNIlo97ABn. And oh yeah, the stream is free! #iuwbb pic.twitter.com/viqbnAZMAn
Indiana coach Teri Moren, whose team beat Auburn and Memphis in the tournament to remain unbeaten through seven games, didn't let the success paint over an experience she thinks represented "a couple steps backwards" for women's basketball.
"We have an obligation to grow our game, and we completely missed on this opportunity because you have a lot of really good teams that are here representing their conferences," Moren said. "It would've been a great opportunity. ... This was a major miss, in my opinion, in terms of helping to grow this game."
"This was not what was described to us as far as what the venue was going to look like [and] what the setup was going to look like. ... This was a major miss, in my opinion, in terms of helping to grow this game."— CBS Sports CBB (@CBSSportsCBB) November 27, 2022
—@IndianaWBB head coach Teri Moren on Las Vegas Invite setup pic.twitter.com/i0eHC17N2G
Moren explained that the site coordinator apologized for the setup, but she also wants to see contrition from those who were "making promises" in the process of inviting her team to the tournament. According to Moren, the tournament was "not what was described to us as far as what the venue was going to look like, what the setup was going to look like."
Back in March, the tournament director, Bryce McKey, reportedly told Indiana the Women's Las Vegas Invitational would have a similar court to the one used in the upstart Athletes United Basketball league in early 2022. The conditions turned out to be not even close to as good.
"We're very sorry," said site director Ryan Polk, via ESPN. "The court and the lighting, that stuff hasn't been an issue. But we needed to have full-on bleachers. We have notified The Mirage we won't be coming back again. This is a one-time disaster in terms of events. It definitely did not go the way we thought or planned. We just severely missed the mark when comes to the spectator side."
It seems the tournament might've also missed the mark on safety. Auburn's Kharyssa Richardson went down with an injury after hustling for a loose ball during her team's game against Colorado State on Saturday night, and according to the Tigers' radio broadcast, it took over 40 minutes for paramedics to get to the scene and help her.
That delay in medical care prompted Moren to consider having her team not play Saturday's game against Memphis. But after consulting her athletic director and coaching staff, she decided it was a "safe environment" and went ahead with it. That decision came after Hoosiers guard Grace Berger hurt her knee against Auburn on Friday, an injury Moren says was not a result of the floor.
"The injury to Grace did not happen because of the floor," Moren said, via ESPN. "That was not the case."