But there appears to be agreement on rule changes
College basketball is now off and running. Here are a couple of the least-discussed story lines:
Gender inequity in sports reigns supreme
ESPN next Monday (November 11) will hold its 24 hours of hoops. Once again the four-letter sports network, using three of its umpteen channels, will show only two women’s basketball games among its 18-game marathon coverage that starts at 6 pm Central next Monday and goes through next Tuesday.
And although the two women’s games kick off the coverage, it remains a head scratcher that the self-appointed sports leader can’t or won’t find other female programs to show. After all, if ESPN can dedicate three channels to over 24 hours of live hoops, certainly, if they really were committed to women’s sports coverage besides the typical lip service, then what would it hurt to add a fourth channel for it?
But when you ask the ESPN brain wizards about this like I did several years ago during a women’s basketball media conference call, they brushed my inquiries off like dandruff on a dark-colored sweater. Oh, by the way, the network hasn’t held a media call like that since.
At last week’s Big Ten media day in suburban Chicago, much was asked about this season’s rule changes (more on that later). But no one in the media seemed to care about the fact that it’s been almost 40 years — since 1976 — that the Big Ten Conference has been without a single Black men’s head basketball coach. Until now.
Hopefully, diversity will return next season when Rutgers joins the league. Both the school’s men’s and women’s teams are led by Black coaches.
The new or renewed emphasis on hand checking and a new emphasis on the block-charge rule, however, came up often at last week’s conference media day: “Are we going to be consistent all the way through the year on [enforcing the rules]?” asked Bo Ryan of Wisconsin.
“It may be subtle changes, it may be big changes that we have to make just in terms both offensively and defensively to adjust and as all coaches try to gain an advantage,” said Ohio State’s Thad Matta.
“I’m really in favor of the block charge because I felt people were just running under guys and falling down like bowling pins,” observed Tom Izzo (Michigan State). “But if we want to make this into a complete non-physical game, I worry that [there are] going to be longer games, boring games.”
“I’ve been saying for years we need to clean up those collisions at the rim,” Fran McCaffery of Iowa pointed out.
“I believe we all agree that the physicality was getting to the point in women’s basketball which some nights it looked like a street fight and not a basketball game,” recalled Indiana’s Curt Miller.
“I think it’s a great thing for women’s basketball,” said Iowa’s Lisa Bluder on all the rule changes, including the return of the 10-second backcourt rule to women’s college basketball.
The only two Big Ten Black head coaches were asked their thoughts last week about the 10-second rule. “We don’t ever have a problem taking 10 seconds to get the ball up the floor. We like to play fast and get up and down the floor,” admitted Penn State’s Coquese Washington.
“I don’t think the 10-second backcourt rule is going to have a lot of bearing on us, added Wisconsin’s Bobbie Kelsey. “We’re going to try to get the ball to the frontcourt faster.”
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to [email protected].