Around the Horn reacts to Geno Auriemma's suggestion of lowering the rims

Doug Pensinger

Geno Auriemma's comments about lowering the rims in women's college basketball caught the attention of ESPN's sports talk show Around the Horn, drawing opposing responses from the guest commentators.

By now you've probably heard about John Altavilla's article in the Hartford Courant in which he reports that UConn basketball coach Geno Auriemma thinks that women's college basketball needs to change its rules to help the game grow.

Since one of his suggestions has dominated the reactions around the web, here's a brief list of what they were:

  • Reducing the shot clock from 30 seconds to 24 seconds (which both the WNBA and FIBA have done);
  • Adding an 8-second backcourt rule, which the NBA and FIBA have done;
  • Dropping the smaller women's ball and using a bigger ball;
  • Selecting cities that traditionally support women's basketball as NCAA tournament sites and not changing them year-to-year;
  • Lowering the rims from 10 feet to increase shooting percentages.

While it's likely that few will object to the first three points, it's the fifth one that has drawn the most attention/criticism. Altavilla reported that Auriemma expected some criticism from his women's basketball colleagues, "...because they believe the level of athleticism in the game couldn't keep up with the faster game." However, Bob Ryan had another line of reasoning when asked about the matter of lowering the rims on ESPN's sports talk show Around the Horn yesterday (click here for story and video), which reflects something he's described in writing about his appreciation for women's basketball in the past.

"Nothing you do will make some men watch this game, okay? Now, in terms of Geno, he does know more about the game than almost anybody - I think it's a very interesting proposal that will probably have a lot of merit. The only problem is that in terms of the actual jumpshooting, (it) would be down. But the fact is that the women who are involved in this game - the women coaches, administrators - would be very upset at the idea that women's inferiority is at the root of this."

Commentators Kevin Blackistone and Israel Gutierrez presented opposing opinions on the subject as well, but the core of Ryan's point is probably most salient here: at the root of almost any reason given for why sports fans don't watch women's basketball - college or pro - is typically an assumption of women's inferiority in playing the sport. In many cases, once a true basketball fan (someone who appreciates the beauty of the game rather than the pop culture elements surrounding it) actually watches a women's college or professional basketball game a lot of their pre-conceived notions about what it is from Family Guy are quickly challenged.

Nevertheless, the game certainly has room for growth and hopefully the matter of lowering the rims doesn't overshadow his other suggestions - particularly the first two above - that would speed up the game in a much more palatable manner.

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