I'm not going to sit here and pretend I'm an avid women's basketball fan—although if you haven't watched UConn's Maya Moore, you should tune in; she's got mad game.
But I have covered several women's games this season at North Carolina and Duke, two top-10 teams. And besides the completely different atmosphere from men's games, the lack of dunking and the frequent turnover wars of attrition, there is one thing about the women's game noticeably different from the men's.
Here's what will happen. Sitting on press row, I'll watch as the point guard receives the ball under the opposing team's basket and begins to slowly dribble up the floor. Then, after going maybe 25 feet, she'll look over to her coach to get instructions. Then, after a few more seconds, maybe she'll pass laterally to a teammate as she's hounded by the opposing team's point guard.
By this time, I'm usually thinking, hasn't it been 10 seconds? Why haven't the refs blown their whistles? And then, within a split second, I remember: There is no 10-second rule in women's college basketball!
I mean, give me a break for the brain lapses. Covering a men's game one day and a women's the next ain't easy.
That shouldn't be the case—and not just for my sake (no, I'll be fine), but for the players, the coaches and the fans.
You want to make your game more exciting? You want to draw in a few more people? Make the simple change.
Here's how inane it is that there's no 10-second violation in women's college basketball: It's the only level of hoops in this country—and, as far as I know, in the world—that doesn't have the rule.
All the men's levels, including middle school and rec ball (as far as I got with the game)? Check.
High school girls hoops? Check.
The WNBA? Check.
C'mon, people. This is downright silly.
Apparently, when the women's game added its 30-second shot clock back in 1970 the NCAA committee didn't feel that a 10-second rule was needed. The members' reasoning was that if there were only 30 seconds to shoot, teams wouldn't turtle their way up the court anyway. They'd never take 10 seconds to cross midcourt, so why add another page to the rulebook?
My interpretation: They were tree huggers. After all, the '60s had just ended.
Hey, I love tree huggers—and I'm one myself. But not when it comes to this case.
Besides the simple reasoning that every other level of hoops has the 10-second violation, I can add a few other spicy incentives to implement the rule.
Both North Carolina and Duke are very athletic teams that like to use a full-court press once in a while. Their pressuring defenses occasionally cause turnovers and result in easy baskets for them.
But they could cause even more havoc if teams were in a rush to get the ball over what every other level of basketball calls the "time line." When there's no rush, teams can take their time—passing the ball backward instead of forward and basically using any strategy to eventually move the ball toward their basket.
Sure, it's to a defense's advantage when a team has to use 20 seconds to get into its half-court offense. But it still has the ball with a chance to score (and the defense has already worked hard for those 20 seconds), and anything can happen in those 10 ticks.
Nothing's more demoralizing than getting scored on with the shot clock running down, right?
Well, maybe not: How about getting scored on with the shot clock running down after the opposing team spent 19 seconds getting the ball into the frontcourt against your defense?
The other reason is how the rule affects late-game situations. Say a team's up eight points with 54 seconds remaining and has the ball 94 feet away from its hoop.
If you're the team that's down, you know you have to foul. But at this point, your only real chance is to create turnovers. The team with the ball, however, doesn't have to do anything with the ball except not lose it to you.
They can inbound it under your basket and continue to dribble and pass without even thinking of crossing midcourt. A shot-clock violation is not a worry of theirs. If that much time runs off the clock, the game will be baked, burned and well done.
A 10-second rule would at least make the team have to try to break the press in order to maintain possession and run clock.
I can't remember seeing a dramatic highlight of a women's team coming down from 10 points in the final minute of a game like the Duke men did against Maryland in 2001. I'm not saying it hasn't happened, but the lack of the rule makes it more difficult for stunning comebacks—for SportsCenter material—to occur.
In a sport starved for attention, that can't be a good thing.
I know women's basketball is very different from the men's game. I think that's obvious to all of us. And I'm not trying to say it should attempt to emulate the men's game.
But this rule is evident at all levels. It's not a guys vs. girls battle.
It's time the women's college game joins the party.
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