Geno Auriemma likes the rules changes coming to women's college basketball next season. In fact, the University of Connecticut's Hall of Fame coach would love to see more change.
The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel announced on June 8 it has adopted proposals and recommendations set forth last month by the NCAA Women's Basketball Rules Committee. They include games being played in four 10-minute quarters rather than two 20-minute halves, a change in the foul systems, teams being able to advance the ball to the frontcourt on a time out in the final minute of the fourth quarter or overtime, and teams not receiving a new 10-second backcourt count when a throw-in results from the following: the ball is deflected out of bounds by the defense; a held ball and the possession arrow favors the offensive team; a technical foul is called on the offensive team while the ball is in its backcourt.
"We made some great changes," Auriemma said. "The changes that we made are going to benefit the game a lot. I wish we would have made more, but I understand it is small steps. Playing quarters, advancing the ball at the end of the game, trying to speed up the game a little bit ... I would like to see us do a couple other things, but the changes we made are I think a great step into trying to make it a world game where all the rules are somewhat similar for everybody that plays basketball.
"We need to keep figuring out ways to make the game more appealing to the fans. It is our lifeblood. We have to figure out a way to make the game play a little quicker with less dead time. I understand we've got to coach them better. They have to get better at coaching them in high school. I understand all that. But in the mean time, there are some things that we can do to accelerate the process, and I think we've taken a great step forward."
Auriemma, who has also been the coach of the United States senior national team since 2009 and has led Team USA to two FIBA world championship gold medals and 2012 Olympic gold, would like to see the NCAA mirror international rules in two ways -- widening the lane by four feet and moving the 3-point shot line back 16 inches to FIBA specifications. He would also like the NCAA to go back to the bigger ball that was used until 30 years ago.
"Widening the lane would give more teams an opportunity to win," Auriemma said. "But I can't bring these changes up, because they think that every time I make a suggestion their first instinct is, 'How does this benefit Connecticut?' What they don't understand is that it doesn't. Widening the lane doesn't help us. The closer I can get Stewie (Breanna Stewart) to the basket, the harder it is for you to guard her. So if I was looking for what is best for Connecticut, I would want the lane to be back where it was before Wilt Chamberlain, where the reason it was called the key was because it looked like one. If you widen the lane, it gives teams that don't have a big man a better chance to win. It makes everybody more competitive.
"Why push back the 3-point line? Because now you have too many guys jacking up threes that can't make them. So if you move the line back a little bit, only guys who are pretty good 3-point shooters will shoot them or kids will have to become better 3-point shooters."
For now, Auriemma will settle for the changes that have been made.
"I want us to make the game wide open," he said. "Didn't hockey take away one of the lines (the red line, eliminating the two-line pass)? Everybody is doing it. We need to keep going in this direction. I like it. I like the direction we are going."
USA U-16s clinch semifinal berthThe United States U-16 national team achieved one of its goals at the FIBA U-16 Americas Championship on Thursday.
By virtue of the Americans' 86-41 rout of Honduras and Mexico's 68-57 victory over Argentina in Puebla, Mexico, Team USA is assured a spot in the tournament semifinals and therefore has qualified for the 2016 FIBA U-17 world championships.
Team USA (2-0) and Mexico (2-0) will advance out of Group A and play Friday at 9 p.m. to determine the top seed in the group. The teams moving on to the semifinals out of Group B have also been established. Canada (2-0) and Brazil (2-0) will meet Friday at 7 p.m. to determine the top seed from that group.
The semifinal games are Saturday with the gold and bronze medal games Sunday.
Honesty Scott-Grayson out of Blair Academy in New Jersey led Team USA Thursday with 18 points. Jayda Adams and Sedona Prince added 10 points apiece. Desireé Caldwell dished out a USA U-16 record 10 assists.
"It was exciting for us to work the ball around and score," Scott-Grayson said. "Everybody getting involved, it's a great feeling."
UConn Class of 2017 commit Andra Espinoza-Hunter had nine points and four rebounds in 17 minutes of action. The 5-foot-11 guard was 4-for-11 from the floor, including 1-for-4 from behind the arc, and missed her only free throw.
For the second straight outing, Team USA got off to a slow start. Honduras led 15-12 with eight minutes to go in the first half. But the Americans used a 26-5 run to take an 18-point lead to the locker room at halftime and never looked back.
"Again, we started off slow and we don't want to make that become our ordinary pattern," Team USA coach Dori Oldaker said. "But I think that is kind of good for us to fight through that adversity. Nobody panicked on our team."
Team USA is looking forward to Friday night's showdown with the hosts.
"My thoughts are to just go out, play hard, work together as a team, and hopefully we come out with the W," Scott-Grayson said. "It is going to be a big atmosphere because everybody will be supporting Mexico."
(U-16 quotes courtesy of USA Basketball)