"Men play above the rim, and women play below the rim," says Ann Meyers, summing up her view of the difference between men's and women's basketball. The four-time All-American basketball player from the University of California at Los Angeles will co-broadcast the women's NCAA Final Four basketball tournament in Phoenix this weekend.
Meyers was also an analyst for early rounds in the men's Division I, paired with play-caller Brad Nessler. "The NCAA tournament generates as much viewer comment on our announcers as any event in sports," says CBS senior producer Ed Goren. "So far, people are very pleased with Ann because she can articulate strategies and tactics, and she does her homework."
The first woman nominee for basketball's Hall of Fame and the first woman to try out for the NBA (Indiana Pacers, 1980), Meyers unabashedly plugs her gender's division. Men's superior size, speed, and weight make for a more power-oriented game, she says. The women's game relies more on strategy and finesse.
"When the ball goes inside [in the women's game], you are going to see more hook shots, layups, and assists," Meyers says. "They also lay [the ball] softly off the backboard, whereas men are flying by for the stuff [shot]."
The use of a smaller ball than in the men's division, begun eight seasons ago, sped up and widened the range of the women's game, she says.
"Increasing the shooting range has been an adjustment for many," she says of using a ball that is two ounces lighter and an inch smaller in diameter than the men's ball. Women first found the lighter ball harder to control, and there was "more room for the ball to rattle out of the basket," she says. Statistics on inside shooting and turnovers now are back to previous levels.