Vegas Invitational a major embarrassment to women’s basketball

Senior+guard+McKenna+Hofschild+%284%29+passes+the+ball+to+her+teammate+during+the+Colorado+State+University+game+against+the+University+of+Montana+in+Moby+Arena

Collegian | Serena Bettis

Senior guard McKenna Hofschild (4) passes the ball to her teammate during the Colorado State University game against the University of Montana in Moby Arena Nov. 11. Hofschild recorded 30 minutes during the Rams 82-58 win.

Damon Cook , Staff Reporter

Nov. 25-26, the Colorado State University women’s basketball team participated in the Las Vegas Invitational tournament at The Mirage hotel and casino. The tournament has since received major backlash from fans and athletes alike. One of the major stories to come out of the tournament was the serious injury to Auburn University’s freshman forward Kharyssa Richardson.

Richardson’s injury was a scene that left everyone in attendance rattled. After Richardson hit her head hard on the floor, she laid there and waited 45 minutes for paramedics to arrive on the scene. Emergency medical services are usually a mainstay at professional sporting events, especially big tournaments that feature multiple teams playing. While Richardson appeared to have avoided any serious injury, it could have been much worse due to the lack of response time in her receiving medical care. Richardson has yet to play again this season.

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“I don’t think they’ll get another good team to play at this tournament.” -Geno Auriemma, University of Connecticut women’s basketball head coach

Roll-in TVs as scoreboards, carpet that looked like it was out of an ’80s-themed arcade and folding metal chairs were what greeted some of the nation’s best talent when they arrived in Las Vegas to play in the invitational. According to several reports, the athletes and coaches were promised a setup similar to the one used by Athletes Unlimited but were instead asked to bring hand towels down from their rooms and play on a court that looked like it was set up for a middle school Amateur Athletic Union tournament. This is a tournament that included Indiana University, which was ranked No. 6 at the time.

“I don’t think they’ll get another good team to play at this tournament,” University of Connecticut legendary head coach Geno Auriemma said in a press conference after the game. 

His words so far appear to be tracking, as the Las Vegas Holiday Hoops Classic, slated to start Dec. 19, saw three major teams withdraw. These teams are Purdue University, the University of Dayton and Texas A&M University. All of the teams cited safety concerns as their reason for withdrawing. 

This isn’t the first time the NCAA has failed to ensure the comfort and safety of women’s college basketball. During the 2021 March Madness tournament, University of Oregon redshirt sophomore forward Sedona Prince went viral on TikTok for showcasing the women’s inferior weight setup in comparison to the men’s. 

The events and lies that transpired at the Las Vegas Invitational are undoubtedly a major loss for women’s hoops. In the town that brought home the WNBA championship, there was a major opportunity to bring new fans to the world of basketball. It was a major loss for everyone involved. 

The Colorado State women’s basketball team has reportedly moved forward from the event and set their eyes on their future matchups.

Reach Damon Cook at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @dwcook2001.

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