Lower the rims?

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UConn women’s basketball head coach Geno Auriemma recently sparked an interesting debate when he suggested that rims be lowered by seven inches in women’s basketball.

Auriemma has both critics and supporters on this issue. DePaul head coach Doug Bruno said that not only is he in favor of this idea, he tried to pitch it to Auriemma years ago.

“When I was suggesting it, he would argue with me ‘nah, nah, nah.’ I never realized that my discussions with him were actually swaying him,” said Bruno, who was assistant coach under Auriemma during the 2012 London Olympics and has coached against him for years.

Auriemma is certainly speaking from a position of proÎ_found perspective: he has coached seven national chamÎ_pionship teams, won more than 800 games, coached the women’s Olympic team to a gold medal, and is a member of both the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.

The idea behind this suggestion is that shooting perÎ_centages will go up, there will be more play around the rim and that ultimately more fans will be drawn to the women’s game.

Auriemma noted that there are differences in men’s and women’s sports already, such as volleyball nets being seven inches lower in the women’s game.

Bruno has actually been a proponent of this idea for quite some time, and has tested it out in the past.

“I’ve tried it with my pro players in the late ’70s and early ’80s, and then with pro players in the ’90s,” said Bruno.

“It’s not been an academic study, with proper academic metrics, but at the same time it’s been a visual study,” said Bruno. “It’s not about the dunk as much as it is about how hard it is for a guy to play on an 11-foot rim.”

There is no doubt that with noticeable differences in height and athleticism, men and women are playing two different games. An NBA center will have a much easier time finishing around the basket at 7-feet tall than his female counterpart, who might be a foot shorter.

Senior forward Katherine Harry led the Big East in rebounding last year at 9.5 boards per game. She feels that a lower rim could have a significant impact on the low post game.

“The trajectory of the ball would change a lot. I try to read the shot off of the player’s hand and also coming off of the rim,” said Harry, who is listed at 6-feet-3-inches. “Obviously it would change the ball coming off the rim a lot.

“It’s hard to say if the shooting percentÎ_ages would be higher,” said Harry. “Offensive rebounding would be interesting because you’d be right there when you get the ball and really just be able to drop it back in.”

Bruno also highlighted the differences in shooting styles between the men’s and women’s games. He said that men rise up and shoot, and can hang in the air while they shoot. Women do not tend to hang and shoot, and they have a more limited range when doing so compared to men.

Senior guard/forward Anna Martin was not sure if shooting would be easier on a lower rim, but did say that it would take a fair amount of adjustment.

“You’re so used to this rim and you’ve put years into shooting on this goal,” said Martin, who led the Big East in scoring with 19.1 points per game last season. “You would not necessarÎ_ily have to alter your shot, but there’s years that have gone into this, so it’d probably be the same thing for another goal.”

Bruno said that the idea for lower rims in the ’70s was met with “an irritated resistance, because of a mental concept of ‘I can do anyÎ_thing a guy can do.'”

Yet given all the differences between male and female sports already, this mindset does not feel prevalent today.

“I thought it was an interesting point. With more thought put into it, I think it would be something cool for the future,” said Martin. “There’s little changes in a lot of the games if you look at, like, baseball and softball. I didn’t find it offensive at all.”

Though Martin is open to the possibility of lower rims, she agreed with junior forward Jasmine Penny that the game is fine right now.

“I like the game how it is,” said Penny. “I don’t think anything needs to be changed for there to be more excitement.”