The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

U-Conn.’s Geno Auriemma wants lower rims in women’s basketball

Geno Auriemma wants to make women’s basketball more entertaining. (Jessica Hill / AP)
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Offensive execution has rarely been an issue for the Connecticut women’s basketball team during its dominant run atop the sport.

But according to the mastermind behind the Huskies’ seven national championships since 1995, the the game as a whole could use a serious jolt of offense as it tries to generate more interest.

“What makes fans not want to watch women’s basketball is that some of the players can’t shoot and they miss layups and that forces the game to slow down,” U-Conn. Coach Geno Auriemma told the Hartford Courant.

“How do help improve that? Lower the rim [from 10 feet]. Do you think the average fan knows that the net is lower in women’s volleyball than men’s volleyball? It’s about seven inches shorter, so the women have the chance for the same kind of success at the net [as the men].”

The numbers tell the story in women’s college hoops where only 11 Division I teams shot 45 percent or better from the field during the 2011-12 season. (The Huskies were second at 47.7 percent behind undefeated Baylor at 48.8). In contrast, 109 men’s Division I teams eclipsed the mark (via ESPN).

“Let’s say the average men’s player is 6-5 and the average woman is 5-11,” Auriemma told the Courant. “Let’s lower the rim seven inches; let’s say 7.2 inches to honor Title IX [instituted in 1972]. If you lower it, the average fan likely wouldn’t even notice it.

“Now there would be fewer missed layups because the players are actually at the rim [when they shoot]. Shooting percentages go up. There would be more tip-ins.”

There are only so many Brittney Griners who can dunk and shoot 60.9 percent for the season. For the rest of women’s college players, that means relying on jump shots and layups to put points on the board.

Auriemma said he plans to propose the idea to the NCAA’s rules committee along with a suggestion to reduce the shot-clock from 30 to 24 seconds and institute an eight-second backcourt rule to help speed up play.

What’s your take? Should the NCAA lower the rims for the women’s game? Would that make the sport more exciting to watch? Would it make any difference at all?

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