Daily Egyptian

Women’s basketball reaping benefits of rule changes

By Thomas Donley, @tdonleyDE

The 2015-16 women’s basketball season is the first season under a new set of rules meant to make the sport more popular by improving the flow of the game.

The rules have succeeded in speeding up the game, as scoring and possessions have increased, and game times are down.

Through Jan. 24, NCAA teams were scoring 65.03 points per game, up from 64.80 last season. SIU women’s basketball has seen a bigger increase in scoring than the average. Through Feb. 14, SIU has averaged 69.3 points per game, up from 66.2 for the 2014-15 season.

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But that hasn’t necessarily translated to increased popularity.  Average attendance at SIU Arena this year is 665, down 135 from last season. Saluki road games have also been more sparsely attended, at an average of 1,219, down from 1,422 last year.

Teams are combining for 1.2 more possessions per game while free throws are down 1.3 per team. As a result, games have been completed about a minute faster than in 2014-15.

Rule changes for this season include a change to 10-minute quarters, as opposed to 20-minute halves. Media timeouts come after five minutes in each quarter, as opposed to once every four minutes.

Teams can advance the ball to the frontcourt by taking a timeout after a made basket in the final minute of the fourth quarter and overtime.

SIU coach Cindy Stein said she is still adjusting to the new rules.

“Since we’re stuck with them, it doesn’t matter whether we like them or not,” she said. “The one that gives me trouble is advancing the ball after the timeout. I keep forgetting we get the ball out there, but I like it. I liked the two halves better, but it doesn’t matter.”

The move from quarters to halves has been easier for Stein’s players.

“I think we all like the quarters,” SIU junior forward Carlie Corrigan said. “It breaks up the game a little differently. If you have a bad first quarter, you can refocus and go on to the next one.”

Bonus free throws were changed from a one-and-one opportunity awarded on the seventh, eighth and ninth common fouls of a half to two shots awarded after the fifth common foul of each quarter.

However, the Salukis are taking an average of 16 foul shots per game, up 0.6 from last year. 

Patty Broderick, coordinator for the Women’s Basketball Officiating Consortium said perhaps all but one rule has been well received across the board.

“There are still some people — probably in the minority — who don’t like the fact that you don’t have the opportunity to shoot a one-and-one,” she said. “If there is any rule that people may not like, from what I have heard, it would probably be that one.”

Thomas Donley can be reached at [email protected] or at 618-536-3307

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