UConn experiments with bigger ball in exhibition win
Nov. 08, 2015
STORRS, Conn. (AP) — UConn coach Geno Auriemma doesn't expect any immediate rules changes to come out an experimental game. But he's happy to get the conversation going.
The Huskies used their final exhibition of the season Sunday to play with the rules, using the larger basketball used for men's games, a 24-second shot clock and the international 3-point line distance of 22 feet, 1 inch, back from 20 feet, 9 inches.
UConn got a special waiver from the NCAA to try a number of changes that also included a wider lane (16 feet rather than 12) and an 8-second backcourt clock. Two NCAA rules officials watched and planned to bring film of the game back to rules committee for discussion.
The three-time defending national champions easily beat Vanguard University 98-18.
"The only effect that I saw was that I saw was that you can move the ball up and down the floor a little quicker," Auriemma said. "And that you have to move the ball up and down the floor a little quicker."
There was one 8-second violation called on Vanguard and three 24-second clock violations.
The teams also seemed to have a tough time shooting with the bigger basketball. UConn hit just two of its first eight shots, and those baskets were layups. The teams were a combined 8 of 39 from 3-point range, including 1 of 18 from behind the arc in the first half.
But UConn made 6 of 13 from 3-point range in the second half.
"Obviously you have to use your legs more because it's farther and it's a heavier ball," said Breanna Stewart, who missed all five of her 3-point attempts and finished with 15 points. "They just weren't going it. We made them in practice."
But the larger circumference of the ball allowed it to hang on the rim longer than the more lively women's ball and may have meant fewer missed layups, players said.
"My hands are smaller, so that's the only problem I had with it," said Moriah Jefferson, who led UConn with 20 points.
June Courteau, the coordinator of women's basketball officiating for the NCAA, and Jon Levinson, the women's rules editor for the NCAA, sat courtside during the game.
Courteau said she would like to do similar experiments in the postseason WNIT tournament, where they could get a larger sample size.
"Then your data would be more meaningful," she said.
Courteau noted that the NCAA already has adopted some significant rules changes for this season, including a change from 20-minute halves to four 10 minute quarters, with bonus free throws on the fifth team foul in each quarter.
Teams also can advance the ball to the frontcourt following a timeout immediately after a made basket in the last minute of the fourth quarter and any overtime periods.
Levinson said shortening the shot clock and doing something about the women's ball, which bounces higher than the men's ball, are clearly hot topics for the future.
But another of Auriemma's ideas, to lower the rim a few inches, is likely a non-starter because of the cost involved for a lot of schools that don't have adjustable baskets, she said.
"I'm just trying to challenge our kids and help the game grow a little bit," Auriemma said. "I don't know that we accomplished anything today, but at least people got to see the game go (up and down the floor) a little more."