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    Monday, August 15, 2022

    Moore of the same


    We interrupt this regularly scheduled column to bring you breaking news from The Day sports desk:

    Maya's coming!! Woo hoo! OMG!! Gasp!! Need a brown paper bag!!! It's Maya!!

    Of course, you already knew that. A little levity, you know. Couldn't hurt. Plus, it takes the edge off my confusion.

    Because I just don't get it.

    I mean, a more cynical fellow would suggest that there's more interest in Maya Moore's impending return to Connecticut on Tuesday night as a WNBA player than there was for her last game as a UConn player in Storrs.

    A more cynical fellow would point to the crowd for Maya's last game at Gampel (4,278 empty seats for a second-round NCAA Tournament game) juxtaposed with the 14 seats remaining (according to Ticketmaster) for Sun-Minnesota.

    Perhaps you remember Maya's last game here. It was only the last chance to see her at home in a UConn uniform. Ever. It was only the Sweet 16 on the line. And it was the smallest crowd at Gampel since March 7, 1994.

    Geno did sarcasm after that game better than Nat King Cole did "Unforgettable."

    "We probably have to win more games," he said. "Everybody loves a winner. I think that will help. Free parking and handouts at the gate might help. … Maybe let the fans participate in coaching the team."

    Then Auriemma paused and said, "I am going to recommend that we don't bid on this (the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament) for the next five years. I think we have a real spoiled group of fans."

    Auriemma, of course, took some heat from the masses for saying that. Except that he was right.

    Now I have tried to figure out the UConn women's fan base for years. I have failed. It has gone from failure, to abject failure, miserable failure and I need a Scotch.

    So could someone make me understand why everyone is hyperventilating over Moore's return when her college career, brilliant as it was, only unfolded before a handful of sellouts?

    All those empty seats, all those nights, all those chances to see her play for State U. Now her first foray back to The Land Of Steady Habits produces … a sellout.

    Can someone explain this obsession with the flavor of the month?

    Diana Taurasi's only engagement here in Connecticut comes 10 days after Maya. There's roughly 1,400 tickets left for that game. Diana's old news, apparently.

    As are Tina Charles, Renee Montgomery, Kalana Greene, Jessica Moore and Asjha Jones, who toil for the Sun every night.

    To be clear: Our corner of the world, the smallest market in the WNBA, does quite well supporting the Sun. There's a faithful 6,000-7,500 every game, made up mostly of folks from Windham and New London counties. But the difference in a good crowd and a great one? Women's basketball fans from other state outposts just can't make the arduous drive to Uncasville.

    But they're coming for Maya.

    The fact that Charles is an MVP candidate, Montgomery is an all-star, Greene has been a steal and proud Asjha keeps on burnin' is irrelevant. So is the Sun's 15-8 record after Saturday night's 82-75 win over Washington.

    Even some folks in the media, who must think the franchise is located in Arkansas, are making the looooooooong drive to them thar hills.

    It's Maya!!!!!

    "They only get to see her once now," Sun coach Mike Thibault said, referring to the drive-by fans. "And if all goes according to form, she'll get a big ovation before the game and the first time a call goes for her and against us, they'll boo. She'll be initiated like all the others. Because now she's the enemy."

    Thibault isn't bothered by this in the least. He's a better man than I. All these young, recent graduates of UConn (Charles, Montgomery, Greene) playing in Connecticut for a team headed to the playoffs and they're old news.

    The flavor of the month is on her way, though. And suddenly, they're all more excited than the dog in the Beggin Strips commercial who keeps yelling "bacon! bacon! bacon! bacon!"

    It's Maya! Maya! Maya! Maya!


    Just to remind some of you: Charles, the MVP candidate, will be wearing No. 31 in the white uniform.

    And see you at the sporting event of the summer.

    This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro.

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