Women’s team deseves support to match success

By By Paige Fieldsted

By Paige Fieldsted

The Utah women’s basketball team deserves more respect8212;end of story.

If the number of successful seasons earns you respect in basketball, the Utah women are more than deserving of their own fans’ respect.

The team has had more than 20 win seasons and has played in the postseason in four of the past five seasons, including an Elite Eight appearance two years ago, and the Utes are well on their way to the big dance again this season.

I’ll admit I hadn’t been to a women’s basketball game all season until I was assigned to cover the BYU game last week. What I witnessed left me shocked and slightly angry at the lack of support the women’s team gets.

The Huntsman Center, which holds 15,000 fans, was less than a quarter of the way full for the biggest game of the season.

There were 3,345 in attendance, a third of the 9,000 the men drew for the Weber State game, which was the smallest crowd the Runnin’ Utes had all season.

There is no MUSS section for women’s games. In fact, the sole source of student support for the women is the band, which not only provides entertainment for the crowd but takes over the cheers and smack talk that would normally belong to the student section.

Even the shoot-for-loot contestants earn less money at a women’s game, as they are only able to make $100 compared to the $300 at a men’s game.

Everyone says men’s basketball is more entertaining to watch, faster-paced and more exciting. I know, I know, I’ve heard it all before, but for there to be so little fan support at one of the biggest matchups of the season was disappointing.

I’m not na├»ve enough to think that the women will ever draw a crowd of more than the 14,000 the men did for their home game against BYU, but the women’s basketball team deserves a lot more respect and support than they have been getting.

Sure, there might not be any high-flying Carlon Brown-style dunks in the women’s games, but this isn’t high school girls basketball, where the most exciting thing happening is the cheerleaders dropping each other during stunts.

This is Division-I ball and the Utah women play high-quality basketball.

Senior Katie King put on a performance reminiscent of Luke Nevill as she scored 17 points and pulled down 16 boards in the BYU game Saturday.

Morgan Warburton and Kalee Whipple put up numbers comparable to some of the top men in the country on a regular basis, as together the two average 36 points, 12 rebounds, seven assists and four steals a game.

Men’s basketball is a more fast-paced game, but the comeback the Utah women put together against BYU would’ve been exciting to watch for anyone who claims to be a basketball fan.

The women’s game isn’t perfect. There are lulls in defense, turnovers and sometimes long stretches of no scoring, but the same can be said for the men’s team.

Regardless of whether it’s the men or women taking the floor in the Huntsman Center, there will be something worth watching, as both teams play quality basketball.

Elaine Elliott is one of the most respected coaches in the game for good reason8212;she has built a program that is something for the U to be proud of, a program and team that deserve the support and respect of the students and community.

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