UConn coach Geno Auriemma thinks one way to increase interest in women’s basketball is to lower the rim.
Long a hot topic among women’s basketball fans, the supposed logic is that more people would watch women’s basketball if there were more dunks, because dunks are the primary reason fans watch men’s basketball.
Some agree the rim should be lower based on the fact that women are on average smaller than men. The volleyball net is lower. Women in alpine skiing’s downhill or slalom don’t ski the exact same course that men do. So why does the basketball hoop have to be 10 feet for both sexes?
People have been playing basketball on a 10-foot rim since the game was invented in the 1890s so one might argue that men have outgrown the 10-foot rim. Why isn’t there a movement to raise the rim for the guys rather than to lower it for women?
Auriemma’s coaching career at UConn has led to seven women’s basketball national championships and 13 trips to the Final Four. But when the Hall of Famer looks to the future, he sees many areas that could benefit from thought and change.
“The game hasn’t grown as much as it should in the last 10 years and much of the old guard doesn’t want to hear it,” Auriemma said Monday after taping “Beyond The Beat,” which airs Tuesday on CPTV Sports. Auriemma believes one of the ways to increase the game’s appeal is by increasing offensive efficiency.
“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,” he said.
“How do help improve that? Lower the rim. 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].” Auriemma said. “Let’s say the average men’s player is 6-5 and the average woman is 5-11, 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.
Auriemma believes there aren’t many coaches in the sport who would support such a change because they believe the level of athleticism in the game couldn’t keep up with the faster game.
“Why is softball played on a different field than baseball?” Auriemma said. “Why don’t they ask those women to play with 90-foot base paths?
“And I hate the smaller ball [that women use]. They either need to change the ball or change the rims. The bigger ball sits on the rim longer [for layups]. But no one wants to hear that.
Auriemma would also support selecting cities that would annually host the NCAA’s four regionals and Final Fours in women’s basketball, instead of moving them around.
“Omaha does it for baseball. Oklahoma City does it for softball,” Aureimma said. “Why? Because people in those cities embrace the event, feel like it is theirs. “The things that the sites learn [from hosting an event] are wasted because they may never get it back.”
Auriemma would like to see the Final Four staged on Friday and Sunday, instead of Sunday and Tuesday to help working fans better accommodate travel – a suggestion I strongly support.
“The system is not working and when something isn’t working, you should work to make changes,” Auriemma said. “If the changes don’t work, well at least you tried.
Those who oppose lowering the rim argue that the women’s game needn’t look like the men’s game. Should women be compared and made to feel inferior to the guys?
Where do you stand on the rim height debate? Do you agree with Coach Auriemma?