Women’s basketball’s response to cleaning up physical play could be as easy as Aleighsa Welch’s advice last week as SEC Media Days.
“Hands up but not hands on,” said the South Carolina forward, coining a useful defensive directive.
Then again, the reaction could be more problematic and impede the sport’s intention of attracting more fans by putting a more appealing product on the court.
“We’re going to have some fans,” Tennessee assistant coach Dean Lockwood said, “that won’t want to go to games to see 47 (fouls) called.”
The process likely will play out somewhere between these two extremes and proceed toward some sort of middle ground. The key variables are the rate of this transition and the manner in which it occurs.
Here’s some thoughts on what might happen:
— Hand checking probably will be the most difficult adjustment. Players are allowed one touch and that’s it. But many players reach on instinct, particularly when the opposing player makes a sudden move.
— Officials have been instructed to watch for illegal contact on shooters after the shot is released. Expect a controversial ending or two if this guideline is followed to the letter.
— With a greater premium being placed on freedom of movement, many teams will resort to zone defenses. In such alignments, it will be easier to beat opposing players to spots on the court. Plus, foul-prone players can be protected.