NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – When you think of UConn women’s college basketball coach Geno Auriemma, what comes to mind?
How about success, success and more success?
The 58-year-old has won seven national championships in Storrs and has an unfathomable career winning percentage of .862. He’s lead the Huskies to 19 Big East regular-season championships and 18 Big East Tournament championships.
But aside from all of his accomplishments, Auriemma is a man who cares deeply about the state of women’s college basketball, from where it is presently to where it’s going in the future.
And the six-time Naismith Coach of the Year has an idea: He wants to lower the rim.
“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,” Auriemma told CPTV in Hartford. “How do (we) 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].”
Auriemma believes that volleyball is an excellent model for how women’s basketball should increase its popularity and become more fan-friendly. Granted, women’s volleyball doesn’t exactly have the same fan base as the NFL, but he believes that the adjustments made for women are the right ideas.
“Let’s say the average men’s player is 6-foot-5 and the average woman is 5-foot-11,” Auriemma said. “Let’s lower the rim seven inches, let’s say 7.2 inches to honor Title IX. 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.”
Many coaches can talk, but few, if any, have the respect of Auriemma. The seven-time AP Coach of the Year is widely regarded as the greatest women’s basketball coach of all time — with Pat Summitt in the discussion — and administrators listen when he talks.
And with all of the power that he has, the Hall of Famer plans to make himself heard and institute change.
“This spring, I plan on proposing [to the rules committee] that the NCAA allow programs to keep their teams together in order to play scrimmages against an opponent with the lower basket, a 24-second shot clock and an eight-second backcourt rule,” Auriemma said. “We’ll see what happens.”
If the rim was lowered, would you be more inclined to watch women’s basketball? Let us know in the comments section below…