Women’s basketball coaches talk about impact of new ESPN Sunday afternoon package

Coach Muffet McGraw's Notre Dame program is one of several women's basketball powerhouses showcased in the new ESPN Sunday afternoon package. ( Phil Ellsworth / ESPN Images)
Coach Muffet McGraw’s Notre Dame program is one of several women’s basketball powerhouses showcased in the new ESPN Sunday afternoon package. ( Phil Ellsworth / ESPN Images)

Some of the top women’s basketball programs face-off in a new ESPN Sunday afternoon package – a first for the sport – that begins Feb. 2 with No. 2 Notre Dame traveling to new Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) foe Duke. The five-week schedule features seven programs – all ranked in the top 13 of the current Associated Press Top 25 poll – and also boasts 11 Wooden Award Women’s Midseason Top 20 candidates.

Top-ranked Connecticut and second-ranked Notre Dame have been to the last three Final Fours, in addition to No. 5 Louisville reaching the title game in 2013. The Huskies and Cardinals will square off on February 9 in a repeat of that 2013 National Championship game. No. 3 Duke and the Irish battle twice, as well as the Blue Devils matching up against ACC rival and sixth-ranked North Carolina.

Several head coaches playing in this new series offered their thoughts about the ESPN Sunday package.

Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma
ESPN has been at the forefront of women’s basketball promotion for years now. They have done so much to promote the sport and certainly what they have done for the NCAA Tournament speaks for itself. The fact that they are now stepping up the regular-season coverage, which has already been outstanding, and putting some of the best matchups on more prominent viewing windows speaks volumes to their commitment to our sport.

Kentucky’s Matthew Mitchell
When you are trying to take a program to new heights, like we are doing here at Kentucky, the exposure you receive playing on ESPN is hard to quantify. I have said many times, there is no way we would be in the position we are in now without ESPN. When you have players, fans and recruits from all over the country like we do, playing on ESPN provides an incredible connector to reach an immense national audience.

Notre Dame’s Muffet McGraw
We’re very excited to be a part of ESPN’s new Sunday women’s basketball package. ESPN has been a tremendous supporter and friend of our sport for many years and these Sunday games are another opportunity for us to showcase women’s basketball on a national level and help to grow the game even more.

Louisville’s Jeff Walz
It is an exciting time for women’s basketball to be featured on ESPN. The opportunity to showcase our programs and talent nationally will help expose the game to millions of viewers. Heading into the last month of the regular season, we should have some very competitive and intriguing matchups.

Tennessee’s Holly Warlick
It’s tremendous to have women’s basketball and our program showcased in front of a Sunday afternoon national television audience on ESPN. In addition to testing our players in a big-game atmosphere against high-quality competition, we also embrace the opportunity to grow the game and increase our passionate fan base across the country.

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