Experimentation designed to discover if a lowered rim would improve women’s basketball may have already taken place if not for the fear of what kind of economic impact it might cause in local communities around the world.
Carol Callan, director of women’s basketball for USA Basketball, told me Thursday the idea of making fiscally-strapped communities invest in new equipment has given the game’s international decision-makers pause.
“The reason we haven’t gone further by now is the natural reconfiguration of baskets in gymnasiums and auditoriums all over the world [that would have to take place],” Callan said. “That’s so difficult.
“Remember, FIBA never really wanted the three-point lines [for men and women] to be different because of the mess it makes on the floor.
“Logistically, there would need to be a way to figure out how to handle it. It would require a huge amount to money spent at the local level which would cause communities to balk at the idea. But if it’s tried and a ground swell of support develops, like anything else, the industry will make a basket that lowers and rises, like they do at the college and pro levels. I am sure something can be invented that can make it work.”
On Monday, Geno Auriemma laid out a plan to the Courant by which the rules of women’s basketball would be changed in a few areas – lowering the rim and adjusting the shot clock and half-court clock.
“The FIBA women’s commission, of which I am a member, talked about this about three or four years. I remember the national coach of Italy at the time talking about it. We also discussed it at the 2010 World Championship in the Czech Republic. There was a women’s forum and that was one of the topics we discussed. But I’d it’s been minimal discussion,” Callan said.
“It was interesting. Originally, the thought was not to do anything to change the game; it was good as it is. Then the three-pointer came about to change the game. The use of the smaller ball came along. It could be that there may also be time for this, but it’s going to take a long time for people to absorb this one.”
Callan said she has been thinking about using one of USA Basketball’s camps to run some experiments.
“One of the things we’ve talked about was to put 10 of our best players in the gym and lower the rim, close the doors, don’t let anyone in and let them play and see how they react to it,” Callan said. “If the players get excited about it, it would grow into more discussion.
“I am glad Geno took the time to spell it out so people could kick it around for awhile. We might be able to take a pretty good game and make it better. At the very least, let’s try. If it turns out great, that’s fabulous, If it doesn’t, there is no harm.
“The newest innovation for FIBA is the 3×3 tournament [which the United States, featuring UConn’s Bria Hartley, won this summer in Greece]. The thought I had was that 3×3 basketball, in the eyes of many people, is a quite different sport. But it’s still basketball. Why don’t we lower the rim there and see what happens. That way you are not making everyone do it. But let’s see how people react.
“I think we could try something out on a very small scale. When we have a training camp we could just lower the rim one day and play for 20 minutes and see what they think. That’s pretty simple to do.
“What’s exciting about it is, if the players think that’s fun then it may bring on an entirely new level of interest among others to try it. It’s like any other innovation that is adopted. When the game moved to the smaller basketball, there were some athletes that didn’t want to change because when they’d scrimmage of play pickup games with the guys, they would be using the bigger basketball.
Eventually, the smaller ball became so accepted that everyone used it. The WNBA started out with the larger ball and then went with the smaller one. But that was an easier transition compared to this one.”