On the surface, the major differences between men's and women's college basketball is that one is played primarily above the rim and the other is played below it. But there are subtle differences, too; the women's game doesn't have a 10-second backcourt violation rule, the shot clock is 30 seconds instead of 35, and the three-point arc is one foot closer to the basket (19 feet, nine inches).
We mention this because the NCAA rules committee is thinking about enforcing the 10-second backcourt rule (and extending the shot clock five seconds) in scrimmages and preseason games, as well as moving the three-point line back a foot. There were also conversations to put an arc in the lane three feet from the basket to determine whether a player had the defensive position to take a charge (as is currently the case in the NBA).
Last week, UConn coach Geno Auriemma spoke about the implications of extending the three-point line to 20 feet, nine inches.
"That's something that's probably long overdue," Auriemma told the Hartford Courant's John Altavilla. "I don't know why you have two separate lines to begin with. I never understood it. With two lines on the floor, most people are just going to stop at the first line they see [the men's line] and shoot the ball. So I don't think it will affect the women's game at all. If anything, it will likely improve three-point percentages because maybe just the better three-point shooters will be those attempting most of the shots. "As the line goes further back, most coaches are going to find themselves more reluctant to just let anyone shoot three-pointers."
That's an interesting perspective. Because, in general, the farther you are from the basket the more difficult it is to convert a shot. Last season, the three-point conversion percentages of the Huskies' long-range shooters looked like this:
- Maya Moore: 38 percent (68 for 177)
- Tiffany Hayes: 35 percent (51 for 146)
- Bria Hartley: 39 percent (69 for 176)
- Kelly Faris: 31 percent (30 for 97)
(As a team, the Huskies shot 36 percent from behind the arc. They attempted 250 more threes than their opponents, 677 to 427, who converted just 28 percent of their looks.)
Now the question becomes: what would UConn's shooting percentage have looked like if the arc was at 20 feet, nine inches last year? We don't know since we don't know where each shot was taken on the floor.
But Auriemma seemed unconcerned because, as he pointed out, sometimes the shooter pulls up at the men's line anyway. So it's not as if every shot the Huskies launched last year was just outside 19 feet, nine inches. Some were beyond the men's line -- in some instances a few feet behind. So the thought of making one official arc for men and women isn't a proposal that will keep Auriemma up at night.
Of course, having Stefanie Dolson inside mitigates any concerns about possible dry spells from long-range. Also not hurting: Hayes and Hartley will be in the backcourt next season, as will Caroline Doty, who missed 2010-2012 with a knee injury. Then there's this: the Huskies have three of the best players in the country headed to Storrs: 6-0 sharpshooter Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (the 2011 class' top-ranked player), 5-9 guard Brianna Banks and 6-3 forward/center Kiah Stokes.
In Auriemma's mind, there's nothing to see here. And even if there was, the college season is still a few months off. For now, he has other basketball-related duties occupying his mind. Auriemma, former UConn standout Maya Moore and 23 of the best players on the planet will convene in Las Vegas this week for a three-day USA Basketball workout.
"I'm looking forward to seeing everyone. I haven't seen most of them since the World Championships ended last year in the Czech Republic," Auriemma told the Hartford Courant. "It will be good to take a look at some of the players who weren't with us the last time around and see what happens. We'll only have a couple of days here and a few more in October and that's it."