Louisville coach Jeff Walz blasts NCAA: “To be starting a (NCAA Tournament) game at 9:45, it’s just sad to me.”

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Q. Not the party atmosphere but the proximity to Louisville, but how awesome is it that you’re only 60 miles away from Louisville to play the second weekend?
LOUISVILLE COACH JEFF WALZ: “It’s great. We were really excited about it until they came up with a 9:45 tip time (for Friday’s NCAA regional semifinal in Rupp Arena against Stanford). We’re expecting snow tomorrow night, so it’s going to cut down on a ton of our fans that want to drive back and forth. But it should increase the viewership, which is great, because that’s what we’re trying to do. I think it’ll increase TV viewership. But the actual in-person, it’s going to have a huge effect on.

“I know what they’re going to tell me, and this is the standard line, you’re the feature game on ESPN, all that good stuff. It’s what you hear all the time. We never tip a game at 9:45 eastern standard time all year. Why would you do it in the NCAA Tournament? I just don’t understand. I thought this was about the student-athletes.

“But I mean, if we played at a normal — if we play at 9:45 during the year, that’s great, and I know it’s listed as a 9:00 tip. The first game starts at 7:15. It will take two hours; they all do. So now you’re looking at about 9:15, then they’re going to put about 26 minutes on the clock, so you’re talking about a 9:45 tip.

“I’m not worried about the players, I just feel bad for the fans. I feel bad for the fans that want to come and support us and have a great environment. What player doesn’t want — when we go play at Notre Dame, they’re not cheering for us, but golly, what an awesome experience to have a packed house. That’s what it’s all about.

“In ’13 when we played at Oklahoma City in the regional and we’re playing Baylor, I mean, it was all Baylor fans, but it’s the environment that these kids remember.

“I can go back to ’09, our first year we go to the Final Four, we play Maryland in Raleigh, and there was nobody there. There was maybe 2,000 people that were at a regional championship game. I’d much rather play in front of people.

“So unfortunately the times are just awful, and I hope it’s something that we can look and try to adjust for the future, just for the fans. \I understand if I’m sitting in my house in Louisville and I’m watching a game that’s taking place on the West Coast and it’s starting at 10:00 my time. Hey, I understand that; it’s 7:00 out west.

“But to be starting a game at 9:45, it’s just sad to me. And it’s not for the players; the players are going to be fine. I’m not worried about that at all. They’re not going to be tired, they’re not going to be anything. They’re going to be excited to play. It’s we’re trying to grow our game, and I think we just had a huge turnover.”

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