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Watch: Louisville’s Jeff Walz calls for more support for women’s game

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Louisville coach Jeff Walz greets Hailey Van Lith during their team’s Elite Eight game against Iowa. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Louisville coach Jeff Walz watched two very different basketball games Sunday: LSU’s low-scoring win against Miami, and then his own team’s high-scoring loss against Iowa.

Despite their disparate final scores, though, both Elite Eight contests featured high-quality basketball. Walz just wished that came across in the broadcasts.

He pointed to LSU’s 54-42 win against Miami as an example. As a keen observer, he found himself impressed by the defenses on display.

“But instead of complimenting that, we talk, ‘Oh, it’s a terrible offensive game.’ No, it’s not. It’s a great defensive game,” Walz said. “I’ve watched men’s games. They’re in the 20s. But every time I listen to an announcer on a men’s game in the 20s, they talk about what an unbelievable defensive game it is.

“We kill ourselves. We have to do better. It’s mind-boggling to me that we, as people who are trying to push and advocate for women’s basketball, we hurt ourselves. It’s got to stop. The stupidity has to end. It’s ignorance. I can’t figure it out.”

Walz’s words came as part of a seven-minute plea for more and better support for women’s basketball, made in the wake of his team’s 97-83 loss to Iowa. While he hopes fans “appreciate both sides” of the game, both the low-scoring and the high-scoring, the cue must come from those within the women’s game itself.

“We have to just continue to do a better job of being supportive of women’s athletics and women’s basketball,” he said. “I tell my players all the time, because this is something that’s important to me, when someone asks one of my players, ‘Who is your favorite professional player?’ I surely hope we say a WNBA player, because if we don’t, if you’re an advertiser and women’s basketball players are saying their favorite professional player is a men’s player, why would you advertise in women’s sports? You’re telling everyone, I prefer the men’s players.

“That, to me, I can’t figure out either. We have an unbelievable game, we have an unbelievable product, and we need to keep telling people and showing people that we do, but it starts with us.”