Sports Commentary 5/13/13
Yes, Women’s College Basketball is adopting a rule long overdue…
ABOUT TIME FOR THE “TIME LINE”
It’s about time. It’s been a century long process, dating back to long before Title IX, almost back to the turn of the 20th century, catching women’s basketball up to the men’s game. It’s almost there. Not quite, but women’s basketball may be ready to take another giant step toward equality on the court. It wasn’t that long ago, barely more than two generations, that women’s basketball was played in half courts with players limited to offense or defense, never crossing the midcourt line, and it’s been an NCAA sanctioned sport for less than 40 years. When I first broadcast boys high school basketball games with the legendary George Ehrlich, perhaps still the greatest play by play man to ply the trade in Connecticut, he more frequently than not referred to the mid court line as the “time line”, an affectation that I picked up, a reference to the 10 seconds a team had to get the ball across mid court. When I started to cover the women’s game, thinking it couldn’t be too hard to pick up, basketball being basketball, I was befuddled to see ten seconds go off the clock with the offensive team still in the backcourt without being charged with a turnover. It had to be explained to me there was no “time line” in the women’s game. “This sport has some catching up to do”, I thought. Of course it did, in more ways than just the “time line”, and it’s made more strides in the ensuing three decades than any other sport. Now women’s college basketball is ready to address the issue of the 10 second line and the reaction to the proposed change has been nearly unanimously positive among those who play the game, coach the game, cover the game and are fans of the game. There would be an immediately noticeable increase in the excitement level of the game with the most noticeable difference coming with pressure defenses in the backcourt which won’t be so quick to back off when teams have only 10 seconds to break the press, not as much of the 30 second clock as they need. New coaching strategies to take advantage of a new opportunity for creating turnovers, and to avoid those turnovers, will make the game more intriquing at a time when the interest level appears to have dropped from the peak it enjoyed in the early part of this century. It makes one wonder why it took so long to get the proposal this far. I’d even go as far as to propose one more adjustment that would just about put the women’s game on an even level with the men’s game, now that Brittney Griner has introduced the slam dunk. Increase the shot clock to the men’s game’s 35 seconds. It couldn’t have an adverse affect on the game because the sport has gone a lot more up tempo and teams rarely use the entire 30 second clock right now, but it would give the women’s game an opportunity when needed to showcase the strength it enjoys over the men’s game, good old fashioned ball movement and set plays, particularly in the half court. The proposal to put the “time line” in women’s college basketball doesn’t appear to need one more voice of approval, but it has mine anyway. With a comment from the sports world, I’m Scott Gray.