If you haven’t noticed, NCAA women’s basketball has made the switch from 20-minute halves to four 10-minute quarters this season.
Every team and conference that the NCAA governs, from the Big Ten to the IIAC, was informed of the ruling by the NCAA in June of 2015.
For head coach Brian Niemuth, the switch has affected the way he and his staff plan and prepare more than he anticipated.
“It’s affected it a lot,” Niemuth said. “We’ve changed how we play a little bit. We don’t press as much. We used to press to wear teams out. You can’t wear teams out now with those two extra breaks. Most teams have gone from playing nine to 10 players to playing seven or eight. It’s changed how many people play and our style of play a little bit.
With more breaks for players in the new format, there’s less of a need to sub players as frequently and with that come less minutes for players.
According to Niemuth, the players have handled the decrease in minutes well.
“It’s an adjustment,” he said. “It’s something we talk about a lot. It’s not about the quantity of minutes; it’s about the quality of minutes you give, but I think they’ve handled it OK.”
The biggest change Niemuth has noticed hasn’t been an Xs and Os adjustment, but the competiveness of the game.
“Starters are playing more minutes,” Niemuth said. “You’re not going as deep into the bench, so the quality of players on the floor is always pretty high for every team you play. It just keeps things a little more intense on the court.”
From a player’s perspective, not much has changed.
“I don’t think having four quarters has changed much,” senior Morgan Mauro said. “It just allows for more breaks during the game. Other than that, it hasn’t changed much in the way we play because we have a lot of depth, allowing the people on the court to play as hard as they can because when they need a break, the next person up is ready to go.”