Women’s basketball is gaining ground in the USA
The NBA is viewed as the pinnacle of basketball, but the sport has also been played by women since its very earliest days.
Women’s basketball in America actually tipped off back in 1892 at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts.
It was taught by Senda Berenson, who was taking a huge risk in an age when females were deemed to be ill-suited to playing competitive sports.
Even Berenson was reputedly afraid that women would suffer from nervous fatigue if the games became too highly charged.
So in order to keep things civilised, she introduced modified rules; for example, players weren’t allowed to snatch or battle the ball away from each other. The ball had to move from section to section by either passing or dribbling, however, players were only limited to three dribbles and were only allowed to hold the ball for three seconds.
The first-ever women’s basketball college game took place in Berkeley between Stamford University and the University of California in 1896.
However, while the men’s game was added to the roster of Olympic sports in 1936, it took until 1976 for the women’s version to be included in the Games.
This then led to extra funding to promote women’s basketball, and the sport began to grow dramatically.
The biggest development for the women’s game came in 1982 when the (NCAA) National Collegiate Athletic Association came onboard, given an overall structure to college hoops for women.
In professional terms, though, the best players had to wait until 1996, when the NBA founded the Women’s NBA.
Women’s National Basketball Association
The WNBA scored its the highest total and average attendances since 2011 last year. The total number of spectators 1,574,078, and the average crowd increased to 7,716.
The biggest rises came at the top teams in the league like the Los Angeles Sparks who had an increase of (+17.8%), Connecticut Sun (+15.3%) and Minnesota Lynx (+12.3%).
The WNBA is growing massively on social media as it has nearly reached 14 million likes across all platforms, On Facebook, the WNBA has had now over 1 million likes this season alone. The league is still continuing to break its own records from last year.
The salaries for professional female basketball players are nowhere near what the average male player earns.
On average, the top women make $72,500 a year; a typical contract starts off at $40,00 and can reach up to $75,000. If you compare that to the men’s game, by 2021 the average salary will hit $10m, thanks to TV rights by ESPN.
So there’s still a huge gap that has to filled between the men and women’s game, as the salary cap is nowhere near the same.
Top 5 college basketball stars
A’ja Wilson, South Carolina, F, 6ft 5ins, senior
Wilson was in the running for the Final Four’s most outstanding player last season, and she was also named the SEC’s player of the year for the second campaign in a row.
she will need to step up, though, as three starters from last year’s team have left. So, Wilson, the hometown heroine, will have to inspire her team again after leading them to their first NCAA title.
The next step for Wilson will be moving onto the WNBA, as he has the qualities to make it in the pro league. Last season, she was 17.9 PPG, 7.8 RPG and was able to get 90 blocks.
2. Kelsey Mitchell, Ohio State, G, 5-ft 8ins, senior
Kelsey Mitchell is one of the most aggressive players in the country, she is a relentless attacker when the ball is in her left hand.
Mitchell has great shooting from range, but her most dangerous weapon is her explosive first step. Her scoring average has decreased 3.5 PPG from her sophomore to junior season, yet she is still within striking distance. Mitchell has now more help from other players from the team.
Mitchell who is aiming to break the record of 924 points in a single season which was set by Kelsey Plum in 2017.
Even if she isn’t able to set a new mark, no player can take the game in a blink of an eye like Mitchell does. Last year, she averaged 22.6 PPG, 3.9 APG, and also averaged 36.9 3-point field goal percentage, one of the best in the league.
3. Napheesa Collier, UConn, F, 6ft 1in, junior
Collier might be the best in the league at moving the ball around and creating a play, however, only six other players averaged more points per game a season ago.
Collier is a highly efficient shot-maker. For a player to average more than 20 points and miss fewer than four shots per game is remarkable.
Even her own team-mate Katie Lou Samuelson, who hardly misses any of her shots, missed twice the amount Collier did.
Furthermore, she has also added the three-point game to her play, plus averaging two blocks a game means that Collier is far from a one-dimensional player, as she has variety.
Last season, sher was able to average 20.4 PPG, 9.1 RPG, 67.8 field goal percentage, one of the highest in the league.
4. Gabby Williams, UConn, F, 5ft 11ins, senior
Williams who has an amazing stats sheet was able to get 100 steals and 52 blocked shots last season.
Williams marks the bigger players and is able to outmuscle due to her athleticism.
With new bigger players on the UConn team, it means that Williams will be able to play more freely and operate more around the perimeter.
However, wherever Williams plays she will also make an impact as she is a top talent. In the 2016/17 season, she averaged 14.3 PPG, 8.4 RPG, 5.1 APG, nearly averaging a double double in each game.
5. Katie Lou Samuelson, UConn, G/F, 6ft 3ins, junior
Another player that makes it into the top five is Samuelson who also plays for UConn. At6ft 3in, she is one of the best defensive players in the league.
It’s hard enough to defend against her due to her size, but she also packs a punch at the three-point line, as she makes them look like free throws.
Samuelson has proved herself to be a powerhouse defender but is also a formidable offensive player. If you take away the three-pointers she makes in each game, she still is able to average 17 points per contest.
That’s more than Louisville’s Asia Durr and almost as many as South Carolina’s A’ja Wilson.
Samuelson who averaged 20.2 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 42.0 three-point field goal percentage in the 2016/17 season is going to be a dominant force in this season league.
During the month of March, female college teams compete in the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Tournament. This year’s runs from March 16th until April 1st, with the final four facing off on March 30th and the finals two days later.
On Saturday, UConn showed their class as they eased to an 88 points victory over St. Francis from Pennsylvania. They then played Quinnipiac, who beat Miami on Saturday to advance, UConn went on to beat Quinnipiac 71-46 who now face off against Duke.
The Defending Champions of the tournament South Carolina beat Virginia 66-56 who are ranked 10th in the division. South Carolina will face Buffalo on Saturday, should be an interesting game as both teams are in good form.