ACC Notebook: Finch out to clean up, speed up women's game
ACC women’s basketball commissioner Nora Lynn Finch says the league is moving back to a game of finesse, speed and quickness this season.
Speaking at the ACC women’s basketball media day commissioner’s forum, Finch said many of the 32 rule changes that take effect this season are focused on allowing freedom of movement for players and eliminating contact on ballhandlers, shooters, cutters and post players.
Finch said there was unanimous agreement among coaches, officiating coordinators and administrators that the game had become too physical.
“It has to be officiated differently,” Finch said. “And this year you’ll see a change.”
Excessive physicality is often mentioned as a major reason why Division I women’s teams shot an all-time low 38.9 percent from the field and scored 62.12 points per game last season, down nearly eight points from 1981-82.
Finch said ACC women’s basketball coordinator of officials Charlene Curtis is on board with the changes.
“Her employment depends on our officials officiating the game tighter,” Finch said. “She’s got that. The message is loud and clear to our officials, and I will reiterate that every time I see them.”
A major focus is that players be permitted to move freely without being held, pushed, re-routed or impeded. The current guideline is that defenders are allowed one “measure-up” touch on the ballhandler, and any additional contact will be a foul.
“There will be more (fouls) in November and December then you’ve ever seen,” Finch said. “And then it will start again in January because people won’t believe that conference games will be called like that too, but they will.”
Finch said that ACC teams will not be at a disadvantage in the NCAA Tournament because officials from other leagues are also under orders to call games tightly.
“I think our game needs to be cleaner,” N.C. State coach Wes Moore said. “I think we need to give these ladies a chance to show off the talents they have.”
POLLS: DUKE NO. 1
Duke was picked as the team to beat in the ACC by both the league’s coaches as well as the ACC’s Blue Ribbon Panel.
Duke has won the ACC Tournament three of the last four years and has won or shared the regular-season title in each of the last four years.
Newcomer Notre Dame was picked No. 2 with Maryland and North Carolina rounding out the top five.
N.C. State was picked 10th in the 15-team league.
Maryland’s Alyssa Thomas was selected as the ACC’s preseason player of the year.
Seniors Chelsea Gray and Tricia Liston, and junior Elizabeth Williams, represented Duke on the Blue Ribbon Pane’s preseason All-ACC team, with UNC sophomore Xylina McDaniel also being picked.
Those four, along with UNC freshman Diamond DeShields, are on the coaches preseason all-ACC team.
The coaches identified DeShields and Duke’s Oderah Chidom on the newcomer watch list. The Blue Ribbon Panel also included Duke’s Kendall McCravey-Cooper on its newcomer watch list.
EX-KNIGHT AT STATE
Durham’s Breezy Williams, a former Northern High School star player, is one of five seniors on N.C. State’s roster for Wes Moore’s first year as the Wolfpack’s coach.
N.C. State hasn’t played in the NCAA Tournament since 2010, which is a major reason why athletics director Debbie Yow replaced Kellie Harper with Moore following last season.
To get the Wolfpack back to the tournament, Moore expects drastic improvement from his players. In that department, Moore said, Williams has worked to get to get playing time.
“Breezy has a lot of athletic ability,” Moore said. “She’s a strong guard. She needs to continue to work to improve her perimeter shot. She can do some little things to help us but she has to work on them – boxing out, defense. We are looking at her as a 3 player. A lot will have to do with how well she handles that offensively. How well she handles the ball. How well she shoots the ball.”
The 5-11 Williams started six of N.C. State’s 34 games last year, including five starts in ACC play. She averaged 3.7 points per game while playing 10.2 minutes a game.