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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Geno dishes on "White Paper"

UConn women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma is a past president of the Women's Basketball Coaches Association and is passionate about generating more interest in the sport of basketball. So it should not come as a surprise that Auriemma had strong opinions about the recently released "White Page" by former WNBA Preisdent Val Ackerman which outlines suggestions for furthering the main stream appeal of women's basketball.

While most coaches in between taking part in a charity mini-golf event and teeing off in a celebrity pro-am at the Travelers Championship might give a 20-30 word response, Auriemma went on for nearly 10 minutes giving his take on the best way to grow the sport.

Auriemma is in favor of one of Ackerman's report's suggestion of moving the Final Four from its current Sunday-Tuesday format to a Friday-Sunday event.

"I definitely think the Final Four should be Friday-Sunday and it shouldn't be at the same place where the guys have theirs but same thing it makes no sense whatsoever in my mind,"  Auriemma said. "The Sunday-Tuesday thing might work for TV and worked for a little while but you will find that attendance isn't working because you don't want to take that much time out of work and it is unnatural you can't do that."

However, Ackerman mentioned the possibility of having the men's and women's Final Fours in the same location which is not something he is in favor of..

"I haven't read it all," Auriemma said. "I talked to Val a little bit but I am sure there are things that have been mentioned before or things we have talked about before. One of the problems we have in women's basketball is we have too many people have any opinion so nothing gets done and we want to poll all 365 coaches, all Division II schools all Division III schools to see what we should do so things gets done so until a group of people who have the best interest of the game get together and say this is what we are going to do then we are always going to be writing white papers and making suggestions, have meetings, have committees and have another focus group and we are going to be . Look at how long it took to get the 10-second rule and 20 years from now what is in the white paper will get acted upon unless people might say 'this is not in my best interest but it is in the best interest of the game.' If we could ever get to that point then a lot of things that are in that report, from what I am told, could actually benefit the game things that we as coaches have talked about.

"The one thing is maybe all 64 teams shouldn't play in the NCAA tournament as it is structured right now. Everybody made a big deal with the women's tournament that we have to be just like the men and at the same time don't compare us to the men. Make up your mind, this isn't men's basketball this is women's basketball. They play at neutral sites because they get a million dollars from television and we don't. It doesn't help us to be just like them so we need to figure out what that is. If it is 32 teams get a bye and the other 32 play their way in, it is still the NCAA tournament but in baseball you have regionals and super regionals and it works pretty well for them. Softball does it their way and it is time we stop trying to be like everybody else and like men's basketball and just do what is in our best interest.

"One of the things we suggested is having it at five sites, (DePaul coach) Doug Bruno and I talked about it a lot and let's do it like the BCS BCS championship series, you pick five cities and one year four of them host the regionals and the other hosts the Final Four, the following year four host the regionals and one hosts the Final Four. You go to the five cities who do the best job and give it to them and say it is yours until you say you can't have it until you bid on it and it is that guy, that guy and that guy and at the end of 10 years you are no further along. The people in baseball have created a tremendous scenario in Omaha, softball has created a fabulous scenario is Oklahoma City. We are the only ones who follow the men's around, the men get $80,000, we get $20,000 so why would we want to be like them and we are not. It is about time that we look out for our best interest, what the rules should be and what the style of play should be."

Auriemma is happy that there is dialogue about improving the game rather than those who believe all is right in the world of women's basketball.

"There are things that work and things that don't but at least we are talking about it," Auriemma said. "When I said 'lower the rims' people had a heart attack about it but the reason I said it is let's get people talking about what makes the game better. Let's stop people saying the game is great, the game is fabulous, we play on the ground, it is great, there is no dunking and it is pure. Really, what is so pure about every team shooting 38 percent from the floor? That's pure? That is pure misery if you are on the stands. You want to see games where people are successful. If you came out to the PGA Tour and everybody shot 85 do you think everybody would keep coming out of here? The game has to get better, the players have to get better, coaches have to get better It is a comprehensive thing, it is not one thing. If you go and saying everything is great, nothing is great. If I go to work every day and saying 'we are not good enough and we just won our eighth national championship then nobody is good enough. We are trying to get better so everybody else should try to get better. These are opinions that a lot of people have but again I keep going back to it is a lot of talk but very little action and maybe this will be a wake-up call for everybody.

"At the end of the day we have something that could be really, really good. We have a game that is fun to watch when it is played right. We have a game that can attract a certain audience when it is played right and when we need to nurture it, we need to grow it, we need to help it be as good as it could be."



Anonymous Joe said...

Geno has some really good ideas here. The most important of which is "stop trying to emulate the men."

I like very much his idea of having fixed sites for regionals and finals, and his examples from college baseball and college softball were right on target too.

Another idea that he didn't mention that might be good for women's college basketball would be a defensive three seconds rule. Stop the Britney Griners of the world from camping out under the basket to block any layup attempts. Open up the floor for more drives to the hoop, more drive and kick out to the open shooter.

11:28 AM 

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