New WBB rules assessed

This season’s top 10 Division I women’s basketball teams, led by Baylor (90.7 ppg) and Maryland (90.5), are all averaging between 82 and 91 points a contest. UConn last season led the nation with 88 points a game.

Many argue that this is the result of the changes to the women’s game last season, including changing from two 20-minute halves to four 10-minute quarters. This has sped up the game in such fashion that seeing 90-point games from one team or over 180 combined points is now commonplace.

“I like the four quarters,” declared Michigan Coach Kim Barnes Arico in a media conference call that included the MSR.

Northwestern Coach Joe McKeown admitted that initially he was “not a big fan” of the changes but now says, “The quarters are fine.”

However, many Big Ten coaches, when asked, pointed out that they aren’t as high on the two-shot automatic free throws after the fifth team foul in each quarter.

“I’ve heard some coaches who lament the loss of the one-and-one,” explained Penn State’s Coquese Washington, a former Women’s Basketball Coaches Association president. “I’ve heard some other coaches that have been really pleased with the two-shot foul. My guess that there will be more dialogue and discussion in the next year on where the overall membership is.”

“I don’t like the two shots,” stated Maryland Coach Brenda Frese. “I’d rather have the pressure of the one-and-one where kids have to step up to the line.”

Washington pointed out that she would like the women’s basketball rules committee to revisit the “freedom of movement” for post players: “We have to really focus on cleaning up the post play so that there is that same freedom of movement that we are [now] getting on the perimeter.”

The final word came from Rutgers Coach C. Vivian Stringer on the changes, now a little over a season old. “Sometimes I wonder why [the NCAA] needs a brand new [rule] book for one or two changes,” she said.

 

Michigan State adjusts to changes

Amaka Agugua (Onika Nicole Craven/MSR News)

Michigan State Associate Head Coach Amaka Agugua is now .500 (2-2) since becoming interim head coach on Jan. 17 after Head Coach Suzy Merchant took a medical leave of absence.

Agugua, only the second visiting Black female coach this season, told the MSR Monday night after the Spartans’ 93-74 win at Williams Arena, “This team has been through a lot — a lot of adversity, a lot of changes within.”

Michigan State improved to 5-4 in conference play, 15-7 overall.

“I don’t want to let Suzy down,” stated Agugua, who is in her fourth season at State. “She [Merchant] gave me a lot of leeway before she went out, and she prepared me for this moment. I don’t want to let these kids down.”

Nia Hollie (Onika Nicole Craven/MSR News)

“We have adjusted really, really well” with Agugua now in charge, said Freshman Nia Hollie, who played in her first collegiate game in front of hometown folk and friends and scored nine points in Monday’s win. The 6’-0” forward was a four-year starter at Hopkins, where she finished second on the school’s all-time scoring list and was named 2016 Minnesota Miss Basketball.

“Nia is very versatile,” said the coach. “She can rebound the ball and drive it and have a midrange game. We love Nia — she brings a lot of energy, a team player.”

“It has been a smooth transition,” said Agugua. “Obviously there are some adjustments for them getting used to me being the lead voice instead of being a complementary voice.”

 

Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to challman@spokesman-recorder.com.