April 3, 2011
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Last year, Butler's men had a virtual homecourt advantage when they played in the Final Four just a few miles from their Indianapolis campus.
This year, the Notre Dame women were in a similar situation headed into Sunday night's semifinal against Connecticut. Indy is about a three-hour drive from their South Bend, Ind., campus.
Notre Dame's Becca Bruszewski, an Indiana native, was hoping the relatively short trip would offset Connecticut's tendency to draw fans away from home.
"I think we would hope it would be a homecourt advantage," she said. "We would want as much support as possible. And when you have a lot of people out there rooting for you, it helps when another team goes on a run or you're on a run yourself."
The players had noticed a spike in support leading up to the game, and many of their friends said they would make the trip.
"It's huge," Notre Dame center Devereaux Peters said. "There's so many fans and families coming down. There are a lot of fans are down here, and the autograph session was ridiculous. It's really exciting."
Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said the fact that the Final Four would be close to home was in the back of her players' minds all season.
"It's great for us to be in Indiana," she said. "I don't perceive it as a homecourt advantage exactly, but it definitely is easier for our fans to get here. And just playing in the state of Indiana, I think, it was kind of a motivating factor for some of the girls throughout the season."
Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma wasn't sure if the game's location would matter, and he doesn't think his team has discussed it.
"Being at home or somewhat of a home game - I don't know, my guys don't seem to be bothered by it," he said.