Eager to find a way to make women's basketball more appealing to TV viewers who insist they don't enjoy watching the sport played below the rim, UConn coach Geno Auriemma proposed a simple solution.
He wants the rims lowered.
Auriemma told the Hartford Courant on Monday that he plans to propose to the NCAA rules committee this spring the idea of lowering baskets about seven inches in women's basketball. The seven-time national championship-winning coach realizes his idea is unlikely to be popular, but he notes it's no different than women's volleyball being played with a lower net or women's softball having shorter base paths than baseball.
"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 told the Hartford Courant on Monday.
"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]."
If Auriemma's goal is simply to increase the shooting percentage in women's basketball, then his plan would definitely have merit. Not only could a higher percentage of women dunk instead of laying the ball in on drives to the rim, jump shots and free throws would become marginally easier on a lower hoop.
Whether such a change would increase interest in women's basketball, however, is much more debatable.
First, lowering the rim would cheapen women's basketball in the same way it would delegitimize baseball if the fences were moved in 50 feet at every ballpark to artificially create more offense. Second, would a few more two-handed dunks and a marginal uptick in shooting percentage really do much to fill seats at arenas or increase sluggish TV ratings?
The quality of the highest level of women's college basketball has improved dramatically in the last 15 years, but there are always going to be folks who compare it unfavorably to the men's game and complain that it's too slow and not high-flying enough.
Lower rims might make for higher scores, but they probably wouldn't ensure higher attendance or higher ratings.