Auriemma talks upcoming season rule changes. By Rich Elliott.
By Rich Elliott
UConn coach Geno Auriemma has long been a proponent of change regarding the game of women’s basketball. No matter how farfetched these changes might seem to the general public, he has not been shy about offering his ideas about how to make the game more appealing.
Auriemma drew quite a reaction nationally in October of 2012 when he said that the rim should be lowered to increase offensive productivity. That change is unlikely to come to fruition. However, Auriemma and numerous other coaches did have their wishes granted early last month when the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved several changes to the game.
The most notable change, which will be implemented this season, is that games will be now played in four 10-minute quarters instead of two 20-miutes halves. This change was also approved by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Board of Directors.
“I think we made some great changes,” Auriemma said. “I think the changes that we made are going to benefit the game a lot. I wish we would’ve made more, but I understand its small steps. But playing quarters, advancing the ball at the end of the game, trying to speed up the game a little bit. I’d like to see us do a couple other things, but the changes that we made are I think a great step into trying to make it a world game where all the rules are somewhat similar for everybody that plays basketball. So I really like it.”
In the four-quarter setup, teams will reach the bonus and shoot two free throws on the fifth team foul of each quarter. Team fouls will be erased at the end the quarter. However, if a team is in the bonus at the end of the fourth quarter that will remain unchanged in overtime.
Further changes approved by the Panel include permitting teams to advance the ball to the frontcourt following a made basket/timeout in the final 59.9 seconds of the fourth quarter and overtime. Defenders will be permitted to put a forearm or an open hand with a bend in the elbow on an offensive post player with the ball that has their back to the basket. And a team will not receive a new 10-second backcourt count when an inbound situation occurs from a ball being deflected out of bounds by the defense; a held ball and the possession arrow favors the offensive team; or a technical foul in the offensive team when the ball is in the backcourt.
“We need to keep figuring out a way to make the game more appealing to the fans,” Auriemma said. “It’s our lifeblood. We’ve got to figure out a way to make the game play a little quicker. Less dead time. Yeah, I understand we've got to coach them better. They’ve got to get better coaching in high school. I understand all that. But in the meantime, there are some things that we can do to accelerate that process, and I think we’ve taken a great step forward.”
Auriemma, of course, provided more suggestions about changes that he would like to see implemented.
“I’d like to see us make the lane a little bit wider to accommodate the international rules,” Auriemma said. “I’d like to see us move the (3-point) line back a little bit like it is in FIBA rules. See, I can't bring these changes up because they think that every time I make a suggestion their first instinct is, 'Well, how does this benefit Connecticut?' What they don't understand is, `it doesn't, dummy.' Widening the lane doesn't help us. I want the lane closer because the closer I can get Stewie (Breanna Stewart) to the basket the harder it is for you to guard her. So what I’m saying is that if you widen the lane, it gives teams that don't have a big man a better chance to win. It gets everybody more competitive. Widen the 3-point line a little bit. Why? Because now you’ve got too many guys jacking up 3s that can't make them. So if you move the line back a little bit, only guys that are pretty good 3-point shooters (will shoot them), or kids will have to become better 3-point shooters.
“In some ways I’m old-fashioned. I would go back to the bigger ball. That kind of stuff. But that’s probably not going to happen. But I’m experimenting. I’m going to talk to the people at Nike about making us a heavier ball because I think the ball’s too light. That’s one of the reasons why it goes like a ping pong ball. It hits the rim and flies out. With a little bit heavier ball, the ball might hit the front rim, back rim, side rim and go in. Very rarely do you see that. So there’s a lot of things that I've kind of thought about that hopefully ... And some of them are way out there, but who cares? They’re not going to come to fruition anyway. But at least we’ve got to talk about these things.”