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UConn men’s team delayed to Final Four after plane issues

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The UConn men’s basketball team left for the Final Four in Arizona early Thursday after a confluence of issues delayed its trip out of Connecticut.

The Huskies finally took off from Bradley International Airport near Hartford at about 1:30 a.m. ET. UConn’s flight originally was scheduled to leave at about 6 p.m. Wednesday, but the departure was delayed to about 11:30 p.m. because of mechanical issues, the NCAA said in a statement. Coach Dan Hurley took to social media around 1 a.m. to say the plane had not yet taken off.

Following the nearly five-hour flight in a smaller Allegiant Air plane, the team arrived at Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix at about 3:15 a.m. local time.

A source told ESPN’s Pete Thamel that the NCAA is working with UConn to make schedule changes for Thursday, when the Huskies are scheduled for practice and media obligations along with NC State, Purdue and Alabama.

Alabama and Purdue arrived in Arizona on Tuesday night, and NC State came in Wednesday afternoon.

The flight was delayed after mechanical issues led to crew staffing issues, sources told Thamel. The issues made it difficult to secure a plane large enough to accommodate the team’s travel party, sources said.

UConn had expected to break up its party to bring people to Arizona on later flights, with players and coaches taking priority to arrive first, sources told Thamel.

The NCAA said in a statement that it worked with UConn and charter airlines to develop several alternatives.

“We are very disappointed that UConn will arrive later than anticipated and it’s unfortunate the team’s travel experience has been impacted,” the NCAA said.

CBS Sports first reported on UConn’s travel delay.

The Huskies are attempting to become the first program to win back-to-back national titles since Florida in 2006 and 2007. They had not been on a plane since just after their March 6 game against Marquette, when they had to spend an extra day in Milwaukee because of a canceled flight. They took buses to the Big East tournament and first two rounds of the NCAA tournament, both in New York, and the East Regional in Boston.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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