Idea to Lower Rim for Women’s Basketball Stirs Talk

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(from New York Times, October 31, 2012)  Recently Connecticut women’s basketball coach, Geno Auriemma, proposed a new idea he has been considering.  He wants to lower the rims on basketball goals in the women’s leagues by seven inches.  Auriemma argues that a lower rim would create more offense and attract a greater number of fans.  If the rims are lower, it would create a higher number of tip-ins and cause shooting percentages to go up.  Women have played with a smaller ball than men for years, and Auriemma argued that lowering the rim would be similar to women’s volleyball nets that are lower than in men’s leagues, and softball fields that are smaller than baseball fields.

While most of the coaches like the idea, they find a switch in the near future impractical because of the number of gyms that would need adjusting.  Gonzaga Coach, Kelly Graves, said, “I don’t think it’s possible, but I like the train of thought.  I really do.”  Villanova coach, Harry Perretta, said he would want to study the effects of a lower rim more closely.  He is mainly concerned about its effect on outside shooters.

Auriemma plans to propose his idea to the NCAA Rules Committee.  His idea is linked to the fact that there were only 11 teams in Division I women’s basketball that shot 45% or better last season.  This is a statistic that 109 men’s teams were able to accomplish.  This could be due to the fact that male players are generally closer to the rim, making layups and dunks more routine.

Although attendance for Division I women’s basketball games were at a record 8.1 million this past season, Auriemma says the game has not grown as much as it should.  ESPN analyst, Rosalyn Gold-Onwude agrees with some of Auriemma’s other suggestions for speeding up the game, but doesn’t believe that there needs to be more dunking for the women’s game to thrive.  “I think the emphasis should be less about making it more like the men’s,” Gold-Onwude said, “and instead understanding how to optimize what the women can do and put that in a light that is exciting.”