Basketball changes give fans more of the fun they want

Richard Pitino (MSR file photo)

Once with traditional spots on the floor for two guards, two forwards and a center, basketball has now moved to “position-less” play. Big guys now are found outside the paint shooting threes, while diminutive point guards have become an endangered species.

NBA champion Golden State, for example, regularly goes “small” with only one post. WNBA champion Minnesota is known for its perimeter ball handling as well as its post play.

“The one great thing about the NBA right now is moving into the position of position-less basketball,” Gophers Men’s Coach Richard Pitino says. Players now figure it out and make it work, he advises. “What I do like about our team is that we can figure it out. We can play a bunch of different positions and are very versatile that way.”

Being versatile isn’t just a factor in men’s hoops. “When I played, I was the average height of a point guard,” recalls Penn State Head Women’s Coach Coquese Washington, a former college star who played in the WNBA before going into coaching. “Now I’d be a small point guard” at 5’-6”, she admits. “I absolutely think there’s been a transformation in the position.”

Today’s point guards are taller. “They’re dual and triple threats,” Washington says, and do not just rely upon traditional “floor generals” to run the offense. “Their ability to score and create shots for themselves as well as creating shots for their teammates now is a premium. You are getting players who can do more things and impact the game in different ways.”

Nikita Lowry Dawkins (MSR file photo)

Minnesota freshman 5’-10” guard-forward Destiny Pitts notes, “I play all over, wherever the coach needs me.” The Gophers women under Marlene Stollings usually employ a three-guard lineup.

“The days of the one-dimensional player are over,” explains U of M Associate Head Coach Nikita Lowry Dawkins. “You get quality basketball players that can rebound, bring the ball down [the court].”

Scoring for the past two seasons is way up in women’s college basketball — moving to four 10-minute quarters has been a direct result. “Everybody likes offense,” continues the coach. “Nobody asks you how many steals they had but how many points you had.  When I was playing [as an all-Big Ten player at Ohio State] and before that, they didn’t ask you about assists [or] steals but how many points you scored.

“People gravitate to the game because it is fun to watch,” says Dawkins. “I’m a fan of basketball. That’s what I like watching and coaching. The fans like it, so give them what they want.”


W draft gets media shaft

Yet another example of gender inequity in media coverage occurred Monday, Nov. 13. Las Vegas won the first pick of the 2018 draft in Monday’s WNBA draft lottery, an event that was covered like a 30-second commercial squeezed in during ESPN2’s sportscast.

Indiana will pick second, and Chicago will select third and fourth, followed by order as determined by 2017 regular-season records: Seattle, Dallas, Washington, Phoenix, Connecticut, New York, Los Angeles and Minnesota.

The NBA draft is talked about endlessly. Sports Illustrated ( ran a “five to watch” on who might get picked first next June, but the W draft is barely mentioned.

ICYMI — South Carolina senior center Aja Wilson is projected as the league’s first pick next April.


Globe-tracking the Lynx

Temi Fagbenie (Great Britain) and Anna Cruz (Spain) are both in action this week for their respective country’s teams in EuroBasket 2019 Qualifier play.


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