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Women’s hoops must count to 10

It would echo throughout gyms across the country. Well-meaning fans who would adamantly yell out “10 seconds!” at women’s basketball games.

Everyone else would roll their eyes and gently shake their heads. There was no backcourt rule in women’s basketball. Until now.

The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel has approved a 10-second backcourt rule for women’s basketball, starting in the 2013-14 season. The shot clock remains at 30 seconds.

There is a key difference between the men’s and women’s 10-second backcourt rule. In the men’s game, the count is kept by the official on the court and can be restarted with a timeout.

In the women’s game, it will be kept strictly by the shot clock. A timeout in the backcourt does not give the team a fresh 10 seconds to advance the ball past half court.

The intention of the rule is to increase the tempo of the game and increase scoring in women’s basketball.

“I think it’s going to help the women’s game move faster and allow teams to score a lot more points,” Buffalo coach Felisha Legette-Jack said. “I think that’s what people would like to see in our sport – they’d like to see high point totals. I think it can be really exciting for women’s basketball. I wish they had done it sooner.”

Scoring is down in women’s basketball and the trend has been for lower scoring games.

When the NCAA first started administering women’s basketball championships in the 1981-82 season, women’s Division I teams averaged 70.2 points a game. The all-time high was set the next season – 70.7 points per game.

Last season, women’s Division I teams averaged only 62.12 points per game.

“I think the 10-second rule innately speeds the game up,” Niagara coach Kendra Faustin said. “I think the whole thought behind it was: we want to put a higher scoring product on the court and we can facilitate that with a rule. I think it will change the way some people play.”

Faustin said her Niagara team was already looking to press more next season, which means the Purple Eagles have the opportunity to be rewarded for their efforts, even if they don’t get a steal.

Buffalo has been looking to address speed with its younger players and incoming recruiting class.

Canisius coach Terry Zeh doesn’t see the new rule changing much for the Golden Griffins, though.

“It will be interesting to see how it affects the game,” Zeh said. “I don’t on a regular basis think teams are taking more than 10 seconds to move the ball over half court. It’s going to affect if people decide that pressure in the backcourt is an advantage now that you’ve added a 10-second count.”

But for St. Bonaventure coach Jim Crowley, the 10-second rule and speeding up the game is the antithesis of what has made the Bonnies successful for the better part of the last five seasons.

“It’s a rule to speed the game up and what we try to do is slow the game down,” Crowley said. “The thinking is that it will speed up the game and increase shooting percentage. I think you’re going to see an increase in the number of bad shots people take because they’re rushed.

“Before, if you didn’t get a steal, the press didn’t work. Now you can get a 10-second call, which is the equivalent of taking a charge on defense. It can change the momentum.”